Madoff did not speak as he was ushered into the courthouse around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. Metal barricades held back a large group of photographers.
Earlier, a silver sport utility vehicle had pulled out of the driveway in front of Madoff's home. Paper on its side windows blocked journalists from seeing inside it.
He was scheduled to appear in court around 2:30 p.m.
Prosecutors are appealing a judge's ruling that Madoff could remain free in his $7 million penthouse despite government claims he was trying to disperse valuable jewelry and watches to close relatives and friends.
Authorities say Madoff has described what he did as a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, paying investors with money raised from new clients.