The Bernard Madoff book collection: Rick Moody, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Boxes of Bernard Madoff’s books
Boxes of Bernard Madoff’s books sold at auction.
(uswego on EBay)

How does an author of seriously literary fiction discover one of his books was owned by Bernie Madoff, the investor who defrauded his clients of billions of dollars? He sees it listed in an auction on EBay. That’s how Rick Moody came to know that Madoff’s library included his novel “Purple America.”

Parts of the Madoff library collection is appearing piecemeal on eBay from a seller who won the books (Lots 750, 751 and 752) in a U.S. Marshall’s auction of some of Madoff’s Florida possessions. The books are listed on eBay in single lots, like Moody’s (currently $50) and also in larger sets. The biggest group, 110 books, is listed for $1,000 plus shipping, which is a hefty $250.

The books provide a window into the intellectual life of Madoff and his family. There are big bestsellers by Leon Uris, Caleb Carr, David Baldacci and Sidney Sheldon, dictionaries and other reference books, and histories and biographies by David Halberstam, Walter Isaacson, David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Classics by Cervantes, Willa Cather and Mark Twain.

And then there are the literary selections, along the lines of Moody’s “Purple America.” Stacks of Philp Roth. E.L. Doctorow’s “Billy Bathgate.” Collections of poems by Emily Dickinson, Lord Byron and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Books by Norman Mailer and Elie Wiesel. Jhuma Lahiri’s “The Interpreter of Maladies.” The stories of Wallace Stegner. And a book by Margaret Atwood still bearing a $6.98 bargain price sticker: “The Robber Bride.”


If that last title seems a little ironic for a book found in a famous Ponzi schemer’s collection, it’s not alone. In fact, there are more than a few titles that echo with Madoff’s offenses. For example:

“Riding the Rap” by Elmore Leonard
“Black Money” by Michael Thomas
“When Genius Failed” by Roger Lowenstein
“Original Sin” by  P.D. James
“The Liars’ Club” by Mary Carr
“Disclosure” by Michael Crichton
“Self Defense” by Jonathan Kellerman
“Nest of Vipers” by Linda Davies
“The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe
“Without Remorse” by Tom Clancy
“Deception” by Philip Roth

And -- yes, really --  Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”



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