Treasurer Deborah Goldberg on Monday showcased items from the Unclaimed Property Division she oversees that will soon be auctioned on eBay.com.
"Holding onto these items is not going to do anything for us," Goldberg said. "We want to generate revenue for the state. That's why we auction these items. We want to make wonderful things available to the people of Massachusetts and pay for important services in the state. We really look at it as a win-win-win."
According to the treasurer's office, most of the items were kept in safe deposit boxes that went on to belong to an estate that had no heirs. After nine years of dormancy, the items become state property. Once the items are in the hands of the treasurer, her office spends time traveling the state, showing the items to as many people possible. If somebody can prove their familial relationship to the item, the state will return it.
"We're in no hurry to get these items sold," Goldberg said. "If this belonged to somebody's great-grandfather, and they can prove it, we would be happy to give it back."
Among the items are gold, silver, jewelry, and collectible sports cards and currency. This is the 12th time that the state has used eBay to liquidate its unclaimed tangible property holdings. Prior to that, a live auction was held, which according to the treasurer's office was far less profitable due to its limited reach.
Goldberg's opponent in the Nov. 6 election, Rep. Keiko Orrall, said that the treasurer's office should stop the planned auction in order to "increase efforts to actively find the owners of the $3.4 billion in unclaimed property currently held by the state."
Goldberg responded to Orrall's claims by touting her office's work so far. "Massachusetts is first in the country in terms of returning unclaimed property. In the past year, with our new systems, the amount of people that we've gotten property back to is really amazing," Goldberg said.
On Oct. 20, 100 lots will be posted at 12 p.m., followed by a gradual release of additional items over the course of two months. According to the treasurer's office, eBay auctions have raised $2,676,445 for the state's general fund through the sale of 10,480 separate bid lots since 2005.