The following is an edited press release from the state's Department of the Treasury:
State Treasurer Steven Grossman announced Friday that his office will be displaying select items from its Unclaimed Property Division that will soon go up for bid on eBay.com.
The items will first be displayed in Boston Monday from noon to 5 p.m. on the third floor of the State House. They will subsequently be shown in Yarmouth, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester, all leading up to the online auction going live on Saturday, Oct. 20.
“Reuniting people with their rightfully-owned property is our first priority, but in cases where these individuals cannot be located, we want to ensure that we maximize the revenue that is generated from this auction,” Grossman said in the press release. “Selling these items through eBay offers a competitive bidding environment, reaches a high number of potential buyers, and maximizes revenue for taxpayers.”
The traveling showcase represents a portion of the lots up for bid and includes gold, silver, jewelry, collectible currency and high-end watches. The vast majority of items come from safe deposit boxes with contents that have gone unclaimed for a period of at least nine years. After a lengthy period of going unclaimed, the state is legally permitted to liquidate these items at auction.
Last year’s eBay auction raised over $434,000 for the state’s General Fund through the sale of approximately 1,000 separate bid lots, nearly three times the amount of money generated from comparable live auctions of the past.
On Oct. 20, 100 lots will be posted on eBay for bid, followed by a gradual release of additional items over the next two months. In all, the Treasury expects to put approximately 2,000 lots out to bid. The items will be able to be viewed by using the eBay seller ID “mass.state.treasury.”
Since the beginning of 2011, the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division has dramatically increased its outreach activities, both directly to individual owners of unclaimed property and to the general public by setting up booths at fairs, sporting events, and other events. Because of this outreach, the Division was able to return $93 million in unclaimed property to individuals last fiscal year, a 42 percent increase from just two years prior.
The Treasury also maintains a comprehensive list of approximately $2 billion in unclaimed monetary property, such as stock, insurance payments, and bank accounts. Individuals can search to see if they own such property at www.findmassmoney.com or by calling (888)344-MASS (6277).