Madoff Victims Peddle Jewels to Pay Bills

Brokers report heavy traffic in heirlooms, other baubles, to recoup losses in investment scandal
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Jan 5, 2009 12:15 PM CST
Pawnbroker Levi Touger looks over jewelry that a couple has brought into his shop. Royal Pawn & Jewelry has made loans to some well-heeled Palm Beach investors caught in the $50 billion Madoff scam.   (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
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(Newser) – Victims of investment scammer Bernard Madoff are selling off the family jewels—and sometimes their houses, too—to stay solvent. Jewelry buyers report steady traffic since the scandal, from a Beverly Hills woman sacrificing a 9-carat diamond to pay her bills to Palm Beach residents unloading more than $250,000 in a single day, the New Yorker notes.

The sale of heirlooms can prove as traumatic as being swindled. “We become the priest and the rabbi, the psychiatrist,” said one bauble broker. “Most never thought about having to come up with money to pay regular expenses. I say, ‘Be glad you had these things, and be glad you had great taste, so now you can sell it in order to continue.’ ”