Nevada Sells Unclaimed Property on eBay

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A bar of silver, gold coins and a basketball jersey autographed by former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson are just a few items Nevada is auctioning to the highest bidder.

Though the state routinely auctions unclaimed property, these treasures are the first to be offered by the state on the Internet auction site eBay.

"Previously, our annual live auction was limited to those who lived in or were willing to travel to Las Vegas," said state Treasurer Brian Krolicki, whose office administers unclaimed property in Nevada.

Turnout at the auctions, said Kathy Besser, the office coordinator of the sale, "was limited to the number of people who would show up on a Saturday morning in December."

Using the Internet auction site will allow more people a chance to bid on the items and possibly bring in more money.

"We will be able to ensure that we have obtained the fairest price for both the rightful owners or heirs and the state treasury," Krolicki said.

Bidding opened at 8 a.m. Wednesday and continues until 7:59 a.m. Nov. 19, Besser said.

"The nice thing is eBay costs are so low and the buyer pays all the shipping," Besser said. "And it allows a lot of people to see it."

There are 26 items in all, including 17 gold coins; two gold and two silver pocket watches; a gold cigarette case; 1973 Willnauer Mint Christmas plate; a 25.31 ounce bar of pure Nevada silver; a 59-piece sterling silverware set; and the autographed Magic Johnson jersey (signature authenticity not verified).

Opening and minimum bids have been set on the various items, which are from abandoned safety deposit boxes.

Banks hold such items for three years after rental payments on the boxes stop, Besser said. The property is then turned over to the state treasurer's office, which holds the goods for at least a year before auctioning them.

Money raised from the sale goes to the state.

"But we keep track of how much the items went for," Besser said. If an owner or heir later makes a valid claim for the property, they are given the proceeds.

"We'd much rather give the property back to the rightful owner than sell it," Besser said.

She said the treasurer's office plans to sell unclaimed property more frequently than once a year on the eBay site, depending on the success of the auction.

All items to be sold are viewable on the state treasurer's Web site, she said.


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