The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

Turning Abandoned Property into Cash for Wisconsinites


Since 2007, the Office of State Treasurer has been involved with EBay in selling the abandoned contents of safe deposit boxes.

These items are turned over to our office after non-payment of rent for 5 years. We then hold onto them for several more years. If the contents have value, we sell the items on EBay and have been very successful in turning the items into cash.

There are several reasons we need to hold these auctions – the biggest is space. Our vault is not that large and every year we receive, on average, the contents of about 200 abandoned safe deposit boxes. A lot of these boxes contain important paperwork. But some have collectible coins, jewelry, savings bonds and physical stock certificates. We hold onto the savings bonds and try to find the owners. The important documents are held for 2 years until we shred them. The coins and jewelry are held for 3 years until they are sold on EBay.

The second reason we sell the items on EBay is that we can make more money for the owners. EBay is a cheap way for us to quickly unload the items and turn them into cash. That cash is then held in the property owners name until they claim it. All items are taken to an appraiser prior to sale and we have noticed the coins sold are going for double their appraised value; the jewelry is bought for just about appraised value. With the prices of gold and silver so high, we have noticed amazingly high bids for jewelry.

In November of 2009, we started doing monthly auctions and in 2010 made more than $120,000 in our EBay Auctions! All of that money is waiting to be claimed by the owners who abandoned their safe deposit boxes or their heirs.

If you want to get an email notice of when our monthly auction will begin, click here and sign up for an alert!

If you want to visit our EBay page, click here.

We have an auction going on right now with lots of silver coins and a few gold coins!

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