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Originally published Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Ponzi schemer's bling goes on the block

The Rothstein collection of ill-gotten bling was auctioned off, piece by glittering piece, at a brisk pace Wednesday.

Sun Sentinel

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Rothstein collection of ill-gotten bling — world-class watches, diamond-encrusted jewelry — was auctioned off, piece by glittering piece, at a brisk pace Wednesday.

It was the second large-scale sell-off of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's material possessions. An auction last year of Rothstein's yachts and exotic supercars brought in $5.8 million for victims of his $1.4 billion investment fraud, the largest ever in Florida.

Some of the more exquisite jewelry pieces on sale Wednesday brought in tens of thousands of dollars. A white gold Piaget sold for $77,500. A men's diamond ring quickly went for $64,000. A yellow gold Patek Philippe watch sold for $61,000.

Also going under the auctioneer's gavel: a collection of stylish lighters used by Rothstein to fire up his premium cigars, two late-model Corvettes and a 2009 Mercedes SL550 sports coupe.

As Rothstein was grabbing tens of millions of dollars from his investor-victims, he spent their money lavishly on jewelry.

For his wife Kim, the now disbarred Fort Lauderdale lawyer bought diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls by the multi-carat-load, with mounts in platinum, gold and silver.

For himself, he stockpiled diamond rings, flashy cufflinks and more than 200 of the world's most prized watches — crafted by the likes of Rolex, Franck Muller, Gerald Genta, Richard Mille, Patek Philippe and Piaget.

"It's high-end jewelry," said Rick Levin, who was handling the auction on behalf of the government.

Rothstein, 48, is serving a 50-year sentence in federal prison, but prosecutors recently filed notice that they intend to ask a judge to reduce his punishment because he is cooperating in the investigation of his co-conspirators.

So far, five other people have pleaded guilty in the case. Prosecutors have filed court documents saying they expect to file criminal charges against more Rothstein associates in coming months.

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