Madoff Had No Art But . . . .

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal got called into an art scam that uses Bernie Madoff as a set-up. Northeast Galleries of Leonia, NJ advertised two sales in Connecticut purporting to contain “original oil paintings and prints by artists including Chagall and Picasso.”

Blumenthal said that during a similar auction held by Northeast Galleries on Dec. 5, the auctioneer could not say which goods were actually the former property of the Madoffs and told buyers to contact the company after the auction.

“It’s a scam within a scam,” said Philip Eliasoph, professor of art history at Fairfield University, who complained to Blumenthal’s office Thursday about the scheduled auctions. Eliasoph, who teaches about museums, auctions and the art market, said it’s a classic bait-and-switch tactic.

“The whole pretense is, it’s coming out of Uncle Bernie’s Montauk mansion,” said Eliasoph, a member of the state Commission on Culture and Tourism. “People are so stupid,” he said. “This one in particular is egregious because they’re playing on the whole pretense of the Madoff fraud. It’s a fraud encrypted in a fraud. Most of what is being auctioned, if you showed up with it at the door of Christie’s or one of the other major auction houses, you wouldn’t even get in to see one of the specialists in modern or contemporary art.”

Madoff Auction Items May Be As Phony as His Fund (