Bernard Madoff ran his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme for at least 15 years. Some of his victims could be battling nearly that long to get their money back.

The court-appointed trustee of the defunct Madoff firm, attorney Irving Picard, has recovered just $1.2 billion of the $13.2 billion in estimated net losses suffered by investors since December 1995.

While eligible victims may get payments of up to $500,000 from the Securities Investor Protection Corp., set up to compensate investors for theft or proven unauthorized trading in brokerage accounts, the rest of their losses will be partially recouped from whatever assets Picard manages to gather in the liquidation process.

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On Friday, Madoff's wife, Ruth, agreed to a settlement with prosecutors in which she relinquished all the assets she shared with her husband. Mrs. Madoff will keep $2.5 million. Mr. Madoff will be sentenced Monday.

Mrs. Madoff gave up tens of millions in cash and securities as well as her $7.5 million interest in a New York City apartment and a $7 million Montauk, N.Y., property, and jewelry insured at more than $2.6 million. The agreement covers scores of items, including two fur coats valued at $48,500, $18,000 in linens and bedding, and $8,500 in silverware.

Prosecutors, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Picard's office are coordinating how to recover assets now considered tainted that were received by other Madoff family members and close associates, according to people familiar with the matter.

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