The Mystery of Madoff's Million-Dollar MittensS

Bernie Madoff is still at large. Prosecutors are trying to get the financier, accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, thrown in jail for mailing valuables to his brother. Including mittens!

Billions of dollars of investors' lost money are at issue. And yet it's the minutest and most human of details that make the story a gripping saga. Why was Madoff mailing mittens? We don't know, but it has the government officials trying him in a tizzy.

In an appearance before a federal judge, Marc Litt, an assistant U.S. attorney, argued that Madoff had violated his bail agreement by mailing five items to his brother Peter Madoff, who worked at Madoff's securities firm but has not been implicated in the fraud, on December 24. Litt argued that the items were valuables worth $1 million. Madoff's attorney countered that they were heirlooms which included cufflinks worth $25 and a pair of mittens. Oh, and some watches, which were worth much, much more. (Placed inside the mittens, one presumes, to avoid scuffs while mailing.)

Meanwhile, a trustee overseeing the liquidation of Madoff's firm has identified $830 million in assets. Plus, now, the mittens! Which should be a big relief for his investors.

(Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)