For Immediate Release - October 11, 2012

GROSSMAN ANNOUNCES LATEST UNCLAIMED PROPERTY EBAY AUCTION

Properties to be Showcased Across the State Starting Monday, October 15th in Boston

            Treasurer Steven Grossman today announced 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 at the State House in Boston on Monday, October 15th, and will subsequently be shown in Yarmouth, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester, all leading up to the online auction going live on Saturday, October 20th.

            “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,” said Grossman.  “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, which represents only a portion of the lots up for bid, will include items such as 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. 

            The times and locations for the display of these select items are as follows:

    • Monday, October 15th from noon to 5:00 p.m. – Third Floor, Massachusetts State House, Boston, MA.
    • Tuesday, October 16th from noon to 6:00 p.m. – Cape Cod Room, Cape Cod Irish Village, 822 Route 28, Yarmouth, MA.
    • Wednesday, October 17th from noon to 5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts State Lottery offices, 200 Theodore H. Rice Road, New Bedford, MA.
    • Thursday, October 18th from noon to 5:00 p.m. – Springfield State Office Building, 436 Dwight Street, Springfield, MA.
    • Friday, October 19th from noon to 5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts State Lottery offices, 151 West Boylston Drive, Worcester, MA.

            This is the eighth time that the Commonwealth has used EBay to liquidate its unclaimed tangible property holdings.  Prior to that, the Treasury held a live auction for such items, a process that was far less profitable because of its limited reach to potential bidders.  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 October 20th, 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.”

            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 individuals 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. 

            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 ramped-up 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).

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