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In Hindsight, 37.5 Million Dollars Isn't Cool. You Know What's Cool? A Billion Dollars.

Bruce Carton | May 30, 2012

"A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion dollars." -- Sean Parker, The Social Network

Yes, Sean Parker's character (played by Justin Timberlake) uttered that memorable line in The Social Network, but you know who else might be saying that soon? Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee in the Madoff case who is tasked with recovering funds for the victims of Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Back in 2009, when Picard and his law firm Baker & Hostetler had been working on the Madoff case for less than a year, I observed that the firm had already been awarded total attorneys' fees of $37.5 million with "no end in sight." The fees paid to Picard and his firm come from SIPC, not from any recovery obtained by the trustee.

While that quick $37.5 million seemed cool back in 2009, an post on DealBook this week shows how quaint that figure is in hindsight. After four years, DealBook reports, Picard's efforts have now generated $554 million in legal and other fees (with Picard himself receiving just $5.1 million of that total). By 2014, Picard estimates, his fees will reach $1 billion.