U.S. marshals seized the luxury $7 million New York City penthouse apartment of imprisoned fraudster Bernard Madoff and his wife, Ruth, officials said on Thursday.


U.S. Marshal Roland Ubaldo (R) speaks to the media outside the apartment building of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff in New York City's upper east side July 2, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said Mrs. Madoff was present when agents took possession of the four-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's East Side under court orders and then she left. It was not known where she would live and her lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, 71, was sentenced on Monday to an effective life term for Wall Street's biggest investment fraud of as much as $65 billion. He was arrested by the FBI last December and he pleaded guilty in March.

U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Roland Ubaldo told reporters and photographers outside the building that marshals spent about three hours securing the premises.

Restitution for the victims is the government's top priority, the United States Marshal for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) Joseph Guccione, said in an emailed statement.

Ruth Madoff has vacated the residence and surrendered all saleable personal property within the residence to the United States Marshals Service.

The Madoffs agreed with U.S. prosecutors to forfeit any claims to their assets, property and accounts with proceeds going to the thousands of investors defrauded in his worldwide scheme.

Court documents said the apartment's contents include a Steinway piano valued at $39,000, clocks, lamps, lighting fixtures and sconces worth about $1.7 million; paintings, prints and photographs of $1.6 million and other valuables.

Under an agreement with prosecutors made public on Friday night, Ruth Madoff, 68, agreed to forfeit any claims to $80 million in assets and was left with $2.5 million in cash. She also gave up rights to $2.6 million in jewelry, a mink coat appraised at $12,500 and a Russian sable worth $36,000.

The deal includes the Manhattan apartment, an $11 million house in Palm Beach, Florida and a $3 million residence on New York's Long Island. The deal does not rule out future criminal charges or civil charges by regulators.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin handed Bernard Madoff a sentence of 150 years imprisonment on Monday at an emotional proceeding in Manhattan federal court attended by angry former customers whose trust he betrayed.

Madoff was returned to a jail cell near the courthouse until the Federal Bureau of Prisons decides which prison he should be sent to.

Madoff was also ordered to forfeit claims to $170 billion, the amount U.S. prosecutors said flowed through the principal Madoff account over the decades. The figure is symbolic because he is not believed to possess anywhere near that much in money or assets.