U.S. marshals began auctioning Bernard and Ruth Madoff's personal possessions Saturday in a New York hotel in the first of a series of sales.

At least 500 people showed up at the New York Sheraton Hotel and Towers and another 1,000 registered on line, The New York Times reported. They could bid on anything from Ruth Madoff's diamonds to her kitchen equipment. Rubber waders, duck decoys and furniture also were on the block.

Some appeared prepared to pay extra for something that had belonged to Madoff or for something with his monogram on it. They could also take consolation in knowing their money would go to help out his victims.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term for running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. His wife made a deal to keep about $2 million, giving up everything else.

People who showed up at a preview Friday night seemed unimpressed by the Madoff possessions. Jennifer Crane, who works in the Marshals Service forfeiture division, found some of the items a bit worn.

"You think you're going to see something spectacular," she told the Times. "It was the home of a 68-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man. It was well-lived-in."