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Going Once, Twice, Sold – Commerce Holds Unclaimed Safe-Deposit Box Auction

July 22, 2013

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL, MN – After a record year of reuniting almost 21,000 Minnesotans with their unclaimed property, the Department of Commerce is continuing to raise awareness about the state’s unclaimed property program by holding a two-day auction of an estimated 5,000 abandoned safe-deposit box contents.  

This year’s auction will be held July 25 and 26 at the Sheraton Minneapolis West Hotel in Minnetonka both in person and online.  The auction features ten years’ worth of unclaimed items left behind in safe-deposit boxes by people who have passed away or have left the boxes dormant for an extended period of time.  Money from all of the safe-deposit box items that are sold will remain in the accounts of the original owners, ready to be claimed.  The auction starts each day at 8:30 a.m. and a preview will be held on July 24 from 5-8:00 p.m.

The items up for bid this year include: rare currency such as $1,000 bills, vintage coins, historical Minnesota state bank notes; collectable sports memorabilia including autographed baseball cards of Sandy Koufax, an autographed Joe DiMaggio picture, a Babe Ruth signed baseball; and other items including a tiffany cigarette lighter, and a wide variety of gold and vintage jewelry.  Also up for bidding is a particularly noteworthy collection of over 80 works of art from internationally-known modernist artist Jenny de Bloot. Pictures of select items are available upon request.

“This auction is a good reminder for Minnesotans to discuss their investments, finances, and personal wishes for their belongings with their loved ones,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.  “Often, family members are unaware of the finances or holdings, like safe deposit boxes, which contain pieces of value and priceless mementos. But, when people forget, the Commerce Department is there to hold the property until the rightful owners claim it.”

Many people forget to tell their relatives that they used safe-deposit boxes to safeguard their valuables.  In Minnesota, if the lease or the rental period on the safe-deposit box has expired due to non-payment for five years, the box is considered abandoned and the financial institution turns the contents to the Commerce Department for safe keeping.  

Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has not generated activity for an extended period of time, including: savings and checking accounts, paychecks, stocks and bonds, credit balances, money orders, and safe-deposit boxes.  The unclaimed property laws were established in each state, to protect the property rights of the owner, and to help reunite the owner with the funds by providing one centralized location of contact for potential owners or beneficiaries.  

“One in twenty Minnesotans has more than $100 waiting for them in the State’s Unclaimed Property Fund and now, the entire state has an opportunity to bid on a treasure at the safe-deposit box auction,” said Rothman.

Year in Review: Unclaimed Property Unit Performance 

As of July 15, 2013, the Unclaimed Property Division has remitted $61,552,504 and returned $33,859,870. 

  • Has received nearly $62 million in unclaimed property funds voluntarily reported by holders.
  • Returned 55% of unclaimed property reported to the State in Fiscal Year 2013 to the rightful owners
  • To date, the Unclaimed Property Unit has returned 31% of unclaimed property reported to the State to the rightful owners through the unclaimed property program.

Claiming money is easy.  Visit to search for your name of the names of your family and friends to see if the State of Minnesota is holding your unclaimed property.  Or, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce website to access the unclaimed property search, view frequently asked questions, or learn more about the program.

Consumers with questions can contact the Commerce Department at or by calling 651-539-1545 or toll-free at 800-925-5668.