PHOTOS: Mother lode of Massachusetts’ unclaimed property going up for sale on eBay
Last chance to claim your gold watch or pearl necklace or collectible Bruce Jenner card before the state sells it off
It’s October, 2015. Do you know where your Rolex is?
The state was showing off its haul of unclaimed property this week, a pile of merchandise with top-shelf finds like a $2,500 necklace made out of gold coins, a diamond engagement ring and a rare Babe Ruth collectible card. One item, an 1851 US $1 coin the size of a nickel, was valued at a stunning $5,500.
The total value of the goods hovered around $325,000, officials said.
If they belong to you, or a long-lost relative, now is your last chance to claim them. They were set to go up for sale on eBay starting on Halloween at 12 p.m. via the seller ID “mass.state.treasury.”
The items ended up in the state’s possession after they were found in safe deposit boxes at banks or left over after an owner dies, said Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.
“There’s always a different story for almost every single item,” Goldberg said Monday during a show-and-tell in her office.
The goods were set to go on a tour of the state this week, with showings in South Yarmouth, New Bedford, Springfield and Worcester. A cadre of state troopers planned to accompany the items and keep watch over viewers statewide.
The majority were items collected from safe deposit boxes in banks, officials said. The Treasury typically holds on to them for seven years before it’s time to liquidate them. There are over 10,000 items in storage at an undisclosed location waiting to be found or sold, Goldberg said.
The state had been holding online auctions for 10 years, netting $2.1 million for the state’s coffers. It’s been much more profitable to do it that way, instead of reaching just a few bidders at live auctions, Goldberg said.
Before they hit the online marketplace (100 or so at a time for seven weeks of one-week bidding wars), though, Goldberg said the state tries to find the items’ owners via placing ads, setting up at fairs and visiting senior centers.
“It is amazing how many people’s things come up on the list and how excited they are, even if it’s only a $50 gift card they forgot to use,” she said. “When we go around the state, those people will say, ‘Oh my goodness. I could have sworn in a picture of my great aunt Lucy she was wearing that necklace.’ That is the kind of thing that happens.”
The onus is often on the supposed owners to prove that the pewter tray or the massive silver dollar or pearl necklace is theirs, said Mark Bracken, the state’s assistant treasurer in charge of unclaimed property.
Customer service at the Treasury is standing by to help with paperwork, he said.
The state expects to take in $325,000 or more this year – but they also have to fork over those pesky eBay sellers’ fees, which Bracken said even the Commonwealth has to pay.
Nearly half of all the items end up being sold to people who live in Massachusetts, according to Goldberg.
A reminder: the state maintains a list of unclaimed monetary policy - stocks, bank accounts, insurance payments – that officials recently valued at about $2 billion.
The state also estimated 1 in 10 people have unclaimed property. Are you one of them? Searchthe Treasury's online database.