For Immediate Release - December 13, 2011


Online Auction Generates 52 Percent More than the Estimated Value of Items up for Bid

          Treasurer Steven Grossman today announced that the recently completed eBay auction conducted by his office’s Unclaimed Property Division has generated $434,000 in revenue for the Commonwealth’s General Fund, a 52 percent increase over the appraised value of the sold items.

          “The eBay auction has been a proven success in reaching the most bidders possible and maximizing revenue for taxpayers,” said Grossman.  “We want to be fast, flexible and entrepreneurial when it comes to managing public resources, and this auction is a great way to liquidate property in a competitive and cost-effective manner.”

          This was the seventh time that the Commonwealth has used EBay to liquidate its unclaimed tangible property holdings.  Prior to using eBay, the Treasury held a live auction for such items, a process that was far less profitable because of its limited reach to potential bidders.  Over a 42-day period starting on October 29th, this year’s auction raised $433,951.30 through the sale of 960 separate lots of items such as gold, silver, jewelry, collectible currency, and high-end wristwatches.  The items carried an appraised value of $285,342.80.

          Some if the items sold thought the eBay auction include: 

    • A gold and diamond pendant sold for $25,000. 
    • A gold and diamond broach pin sold for $23,988. 
    • An 1802 U.S. silver dollar sold for $3,050. 
    • A 1908 $10.00 U.S. silver certificate sold for $2,601. 
    • A woman’s automatic Rolex watch sold for $1,409.

         eBay received 133,773 individual hits associated with this year’s Treasury auction, and 16,920 bids were placed on the items.  Only 40 bid lots were not sold, positioning Massachusetts as one of the most successful auctions among the other states that liquidate their unclaimed tangible property over eBay.

          Grossman said that the Treasury needs to regularly liquidate older portions of its tangible property holdings due to storage constraints and logistical needs.  He noted that if an individual or their heirs later prove that a piece of sold property belonged to them, they will be fully compensated the sale price of the item.  The vast majority of items that were sold came from abandoned safe deposit boxes with contents that had 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.  

          Along with its tangible property holdings, 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 or by calling (888)344-MASS.