For Immediate Release - January 03, 2013

Grossman Announces Record eBay Auction Yield of $545,000 for Taxpayers

Online Auction Generates 92 Percent More than the Estimated Value of Items up for Bid

Items being sold via eBay auction

Treasurer Steven Grossman today announced that the recently completed eBay auction conducted by his office’s Unclaimed Property Division has generated a record-setting $544,552 in revenue for the Commonwealth’s General Fund, a 92 percent increase over the appraised value of the sold items.

“Maximizing value and revenue for taxpayers is a top priority, and the eBay auction is a great way to reach as many potential bidders as possible,” said Grossman.  “This year’s auction was a resounding success that far outpaced the appraised value of the items up for bid, and it broke all prior eBay auction records at Treasury.”

This was the eighth 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 $544,552 through the sale of 1,830 separate lots of items such as gold, silver, jewelry, collectible currency, and high-end wristwatches.  The items carried an appraised value of $283,500.

Some if the items sold thought the Treasury’s eBay auction include:
• A 1707 silver brandy warmer that sold for $990
• An 18K white gold diamond solitaire ring that sold for $17,000
• An 18K gold Tiffany & Co. pocket watch that sold for $2,025
• A Vulcain wristwatch that sold for $3,728

eBay received 253,000 individual hits associated with this year’s Treasury auction, and 26,300 bids were placed on the items.  The revenue generated and the high level of interest in the items up for bid made this one of the most successful auctions among all 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 individuals or their heirs later prove that a piece of sold property belonged to them, they will be fully compensated based on 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 www.findmassmoney.com or by calling (888)344-MASS.

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