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Minnesota raises $140,000 through online auction of unclaimed items


Minnesota raised just over $140,000 this month through an online auction that listed more than 1,000 items for sale in abandoned safes.

The state Department of Commerce held the auction, as required by state law, for items left in bank vaults where the safe’s lease ended many years ago. .

Going forward, owners or heirs still have the option to submit claims for proceeds from the event, which took place from September 1-13.

Here are the highlights of the sale as reported by Commerce:

  • Bidders: 500, from almost every state and Canada;
  • Buyers: 150;
  • Catalog views: 200,000;
  • Best bid: $7,600 for a women’s ring. Several lots containing jewelry or coins sold for between $1,000 and $4,200. None of the individual bids came close to the $27,500 paid for a piece dating to 1795 at a similar auction in 2013.

State law dictates that the department must hold auctions at least every 10 years. This month’s event was the first since 2019, when items sold for a total of $115,000.

Banks should try to find the owners of items left in safes after the end of the lease. After five years, orphaned items are turned over to the Commerce Unclaimed Property Program.

This month’s auction included gold and silver rings as well as topazes and other gemstones. Watches and pocket watches were auctioned off along with old coins, including an 1853 US gold dollar and an 1852 US silver coin.

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