The Nebraska State Treasurer’s recent online eBay auction of the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes was a resounding success with strong bidding that brought in gross proceeds of $78,716, State Treasurer Don Stenberg said today.
Stenberg said money from the auction would be held in the owners’ names in perpetuity. The rightful owners or heirs of the owners with proper documentation can claim the money at any time, he said. The public can search the Treasurer’s online database at treasurer.nebraska.gov.
“I am very, very pleased with the outcome of this auction, which generated great interest from the public and attracted a large number of serious bidders,” Stenberg said. “The auction offered many interesting and valuable items, all of which sold at or above the appraised values. We attribute much of the success to our marketing efforts including word-of-mouth outreach, radio spots, and Facebook advertising. Thank you to all the bidders and to our Facebook friends who shared our posts with others.”
Stenberg said one lot made up of 45 pre-1904 Morgan silver dollars and pre-1964 silver dimes, quarters and half dollars sold for $3,350, which was the highest selling price in the auction. One lot of collectable sports trading cards featuring Roger Maris, Roberto Clemente, and Sandy Koufax sold for $1,125 and attracted 57 bidders, the largest number of bidders for a single lot in the auction.
The 10-day online auction, which was open for bidding from October 2 through October 12, was managed by J&J Coins and Collectables with offices in Sioux City, Iowa, and Bellevue, Nebraska. All items in the auction were inspected and appraised by Tom Bassett of Lincoln, an independent appraiser.
The last auction hosted by the Treasurer’s Office brought in $15,000 in sales in 2012.
Stenberg said this year’s auction included coins, jewelry, sports trading cards, watches, pocket watches, and sterling silver flatware that were left in safe deposit boxes turned over to the Treasurer’s Office by banks between 2006 and 2011. Multiple efforts over many years to locate the original owners were unsuccessful, he said. Those efforts include letters to owners for which the Treasurer’s Office had addresses, skip tracing, in-house research, publication of names on the Treasurer’s website, and publication of names in an annual newspaper tabloid. The Unclaimed Property staff also attends outreach events to help visitors search the database and file claims.
State law requires that the Treasurer’s Office conduct an auction of the safe deposit box contents at least once every five years.
Unclaimed property comes in many forms in addition to safe deposit box contents. 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.
“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 more than $11.7 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.