The judge ordered the $83 million payment in advance of a trial he ordered for Katz and Wilpon.
A jury will decide whether they will pay another $303 million, the balance of the money sought by Picard.
At issue is whether the Mets owners were aware that Madoff was running a scam investment business.
Picard has said the Mets owners were "willfully blind" to the fraud, given they were reaping steady rewards from their investments.
Some of Madoff's closest associates did extremely well investing in his firm but hundreds of other clients lost tens of billions of dollars.
Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to fraud in 2009.