The Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office is hosting an online eBay auction of the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes that were turned over to the State of Nebraska between 2006 and 2011, State Treasurer Don Stenberg announced today at a news conference in the Capitol.
The auction will begin at 10 a.m. CT Monday, September 25, at stores.ebay.com/nebraskaunclaimedproperty. Bidders also may access the auction site from the home page of the Treasurer’s website at treasurer.nebraska.gov.
The auction will be open for 10 days, ending at 10 a.m. CT Thursday, October 5. Stenberg said items that are still available for sale at the end of the 10 days may be reposted for a second round of the auction.
“We are looking forward to our online eBay auction, and we are excited with the quality and variety of items that will be available for sale, from diamonds and sterling silver to sports trading cards and collectible coins,” Treasurer Stenberg said.
“While we would like nothing better than to see these items back in the hands of their owners or the owners’ heirs, we do not have the storage space to keep these items indefinitely, and we would like to see them used and enjoyed by new owners. Also, state law requires that we conduct an auction at least every five years. Proceeds from the sale of each item will be recorded in the original owner’s name and be held in that name in perpetuity,” Stenberg said.
The last auction conducted by the Treasurer’s Office was in 2012. That auction resulted in almost $15,000 in sales.
All items for the upcoming auction have been inspected and appraised by Tom Bassett of Lincoln, an independent appraiser. Bassett is a member of the New England Appraisers Association and past president of both the Lincoln Coin Club and the Nebraska Numismatic Association.
Stenberg said multiple efforts over many years to locate the original owners of the safe deposit boxes have been unsuccessful. Those efforts include letters to owners for which the Treasurer’s Office has addresses, skip tracing, in-house research, publication of names on the Treasurer’s website, and publication of names in an annual tabloid in Nebraska newspapers. The Unclaimed Property staff also attends outreach events throughout the state to help visitors search the database and file claims.
“As many of you know, one of the duties of the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office is to receive unclaimed property from banks, financial institutions, businesses, and organizations and to try to locate the rightful owners and return the property to them,” Stenberg said.
“Unclaimed property comes in many forms. Among the most common are utility deposits, dividends, gift certificates, insurance payments, lost IRAs and matured CDs, money orders, rebates, refunds, savings bonds, stock and mutual funds—all long lost and forgotten by the owners and perhaps never even known about by the owners’ heirs. We also receive the contents of safe deposit boxes that have been forgotten or abandoned or whose owners have died and whose heirs have not come forward,” he said.
“Our office works diligently to promote awareness of our Unclaimed Property program and to help owners locate and document their property. We returned a record $16.3 million of unclaimed property to rightful owners in 2016 and almost $11 million so far this year. But we are still holding more than $170 million for more than 350,000 Nebraskans or former Nebraskans,” Stenberg said.
The auction beginning Monday contains 940 appraised lots, including collectable sports cards, collectable coins, Morgan and Peace silver dollars, jewelry, watches, pocket watches, and sterling silver pieces. The items range in appraised value from $1 to $1,800. The appraised value of all items totals $56,000.
“We have a wide variety of items to auction, ranging from sports cards featuring Shaquille O’Neal as a rookie and Roberto Clemente to a beautiful metal box with tole painting dating from before 1880. You will also find a ladies 14k gold ring with 11 diamonds, size 8 ½, and a 1930s bar pin with nine diamonds, believed to be white gold,” Stenberg said.
A sample of the items to be auctioned was displayed at the news conference in the Treasurer’s office in the Capitol. Among the items displayed were the following:
Items to be sold on the auction will be available for viewing at the auction site when the auction begins at 10 a.m. Monday. Interested bidders are encouraged to follow the Nebraska State Treasurer’s office on facebook.com/NebraskaTreasurer for a preview of items offered for sale. Treasurer’s office employees and their immediate families are excluded from bidding in the auction.
Nebraskans can check at their convenience for unclaimed property at the Treasurer’s Office website, treasurer.nebraska.gov, by typing their names in the search box on the home page.