Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Australian Madoff doll 'a smash'

Figurine of US financier Bernard Madoff
Graeme Warring invented the doll to try to console his out-of-pocket friend

An Australian toy designer has created a surprise hit with a doll of the US financier, Bernard Madoff, who is accused of a $50bn (35bn) fraud.

The Smash-Me Bernie figurine wears a devil's red suit, carries a trident and comes with a golden hammer for smashing the doll into pieces.

Creator Graeme Warring said he came up with the idea after a friend of his lost money in the scandal.

Mr Madoff's former clients may not feel like meeting the $100 price tag.

Smash-me Bernie attracted worldwide media interest when it went on display at the New York Toy Fair this week, says the doll's creator.

'Terrifically funny'

Mr Warring, who now lives in the US, told ABC news how he'd invented the figurine to try to console his out-of-pocket friend.

"He lost quite a bit of money and he was pretty grumpy about the whole thing," Mr Warring was quoted as saying.

Bernard Madoff going to court last month
US financier Bernard Madoff is under house arrest pending trial
"So I made him this little action figure of Bernie Madoff... I put a hammer in the box and I said, 'Listen, when you get this thing, just smash it to pieces - it'll make you feel better, and then go bury it in the backyard and put it behind you'.

"So he did it, thought it was terrifically funny, and then he started telling some of his mates about it and before you know it, everyone's started to order these things."

Mr Madoff, 70, a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange, is accused of running a Ponzi scheme - a system whereby early investors are paid off with the money of new clients.

If convicted, Mr Madoff faces up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

The financier is under house arrest while police investigations continue and has not yet entered a plea or responded to the charges.

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