Largest online auction for unclaimed property held this month on eBay

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander announced her office will hold the biggest online auction of unclaimed property ever conducted by a state. From Oct. 1 through Oct. 26, online bidders will be offered 8,335 items with an estimated value of more than $35,000. The jewelry, coins, collectibles and other valuables come from abandoned safe deposit boxes whose owners cannot be located. The online auction will be conducted on the eBay auction website. “This is an opportunity for seasoned and novice bidders to add wonderful items to their collections, or to do some early Christmas shopping,” Comptroller Rylander said. The auction began Oct. 1 with 520 items up for sale. Bidding on those items will close Oct. 8. Bidding on other items will open and close on an overlapping schedule: Oct. 3-10, 236 items; Oct. 5-12, 372 items; Oct. 9-16, 1,214 items; Oct. 11-18, 3,336 items; Oct. 15-22, 931 items; Oct. 17-24, 887 items; and Oct. 19-26, 839 items. Among the items for sale are a 14 karat gold mesh handbag; gold, silver and other collectible coins; vintage jewelry; a pair of antique opera glasses and a 1930 leather-bound edition of John G. Whittier poems. Bidders may view the auction items on the Comptroller’s website at www.window.state.tx.us. The site links bidders directly to the unclaimed property auction on eBay. Texas continues to lead the nation in using technology to sell unclaimed items whose rightful owners cannot be found. In December 1999, Texas was the first state to auction unclaimed property on the Internet. In July 2000, Texas was the first to combine an online auction with a traditional unclaimed property auction’allowing bidders in cyberspace to compete in real time with bidders on the auction floor. “Online unclaimed property auctions ace my Yellow Pages test,” Comptroller Rylander said. “Online selling costs less per item than a live auction, and often generates higher bids, because the field of bidders is expanded. Bidders from throughout the U.S. and the world can participate.” This year, technology allows Texas to proceed with an unclaimed property auction at a time when traditional live auction would not be possible, following the Sept. 11 attack on America. “We can conduct the state’s business as usual, clear items from our vault and raise needed revenue for public education and other state services, without concerns about security and air travel that we would face if we had scheduled a live auction this fall,” Rylander said. The next live auction of unclaimed property, offering about 200,000 items for sale, may be held next summer. Banks turn abandoned safe deposit box contents over to the Comptroller when they have been unable to locate the bow owners for five years. The Comptroller continues to hold the property for at least a year, and publishes the owners’ names in newspapers and on the Internet before auctioning the items. If the property owners turn up after the auction, the receive the proceeds from the sale of the property.

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