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PA Treasury Sets New Record for Unclaimed Property Auction Proceeds

(From a press release)

Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced today that Treasury’s fall unclaimed property auction brought in more than $298,000, the most ever generated by an unclaimed property auction in Pennsylvania. All proceeds are carefully logged by Treasury and will remain available for the rightful owners to claim no matter how much time passes.

“This is outstanding news, and we’re very pleased that the auction generated such an incredible result,” Treasurer Garrity said. “We work for at least three years to find the rightful owners of every item that comes to Treasury’s vault. But eventually, we do have to auction items to make room for incoming property. All auction proceeds remain at Treasury for a rightful owner to claim anytime – whether that’s tomorrow, a few months from now, or many years down the road.”

More than 4,200 items were sold during the auction that took place online on October 25 and 26, 2023. Treasury partners with Pook & Pook, Inc., of Downingtown for auctioneer and appraisal services.

“This was another tremendously successful collaboration with the Pennsylvania Treasury,” President of Pook & Pook Deidre Pook Magarelli said. “I believe this was our biggest Coins & Jewelry auction to date, and strong prices were achieved across the board in all categories. I’m continually impressed with the stellar effort the Pennsylvania Treasury puts forth into reuniting unclaimed property with its original owners, and, when that is not possible, making sure that monetary compensation for that unclaimed property is available to those individuals in perpetuity. It’s a huge undertaking, and Pook & Pook appreciates playing a part in this important process. We look forward to our next collaboration, a Coins & Jewelry auction scheduled for March 27, 2024.”

The highest selling price of a Treasury item was $27,000 for a collection of 25 early baseball tobacco cards, including Cy Young, Pennsylvania’s own Christy Mathewson and other Hall of Famers. Other high-price items included:

  • US Proof Set of collectible coins sold for $7,500
  • Two Platinum and diamond engagement rings sold for $6,500 each
  • 14K white gold ring with a 3.6 carat pear-shaped diamond sold for $4,400
  • Vietnamese gold bars sold for $2,200
  • $20 Gold St. Gaudens Double Eagle coin sold for $1,800

Treasury expects to net $298,029.60 after Pook & Pook receives its 12 percent commission of the full auction total of $338,670.00. The profits from the auction were more than $60,000 over the high estimate.

Items that are not sold at auction, or those not paid for by a winning bidder, are returned to Treasury to be listed in future auctions.

Treasury receives unclaimed property from businesses if the property has been dormant for three years. Tangible property, most often the contents of forgotten about safe deposit boxes, is stored in Treasury’s vault for another three years while Treasury tries to find the rightful owners. Treasury never auctions military decorations or memorabilia.

More than $4.5 billion in unclaimed property is available to be claimed. More than one in ten Pennsylvanians is owed unclaimed property, and the average claim is worth about $1,600.

To learn more about unclaimed property or to search Treasury’s database.

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Treasurer Stacy Garrity Announces Auction of Unclaimed Property

From a press release

Treasurer Stacy Garrity today announced that the upcoming online auction of unclaimed property will take place Wednesday, April 12, and Thursday, April 13. This auction includes fine jewelry, coins, currency, and many other items that have been safeguarded in Treasury’s vault. The majority of Treasury’s items will be featured on April 12.

“We have the largest working vault in the nation, but we’re constantly receiving new unclaimed property,” Garrity said. “Sometimes, we have to auction off items to make space for that incoming property. We’ve worked for at least three years to find the rightful owner of every item being auctioned. I hope that learning about this auction will inspire more Pennsylvanians to see if they have any unclaimed property waiting by searching here.”

Treasury partners with Pook & Pook, Inc., in Downingtown for appraisal and auctioneer services. Items up for auction can be previewed here.  Interested bidders can also register on Pook & Pook’s website.

The auction will feature 4,250 items from Treasury’s vault, including:

  • A 14K two-tone gold stick pin brooch with 2-carat diamond;
  • Multiple Engelhard 100 Troy ounce 999+ fine silver bars;
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coins;
  • One-ounce fine gold Canadian $50 Maple Leaf coins;
  • Morgan dollars;
  • An 18K yellow gold George Melleze pocket watch with a silver-colored key attached; and
  • Various comic books and magazines.

All Treasury items listed in the auction are subject to change at any time prior to the sale. In this case, Treasury is made aware of changes that may be made due to new information regarding an item’s authenticity, change in value, quality or other determining factor.

“There are some remarkable items available to bid on in this auction,” Garrity said. “Any proceeds will be carefully tracked – and will always be available for the rightful owner to claim any time, even years or decades from now.”

Unclaimed property comes to Treasury in accordance with state law. Tangible property, like the items being auctioned, most often comes from abandoned safe deposit boxes, with other items coming from college dorms, nursing homes, or police evidence rooms. Unclaimed property also includes balances of forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, stocks, insurance policies and more.

The online auctions will also include items from other consignors. Treasury items may be combined into lots but will never be comingled with non-Treasury items. Treasury employees and immediate family members are prohibited from bidding in the auctions.

Property is safeguarded in the vault for at least three years before being auctioned. Treasury updates its unclaimed property records to reflect the proceeds from an item’s sale, so if a rightful owner comes forward the proceeds are available to claim.

About one in ten Pennsylvanians is owed some of the more than $4 billion in unclaimed property. The average value of a claim is $1,600.

 

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 U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of PA Treasury in Landmark Unclaimed Property Case

From a press release

Tuesday, the U. S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department in a landmark unclaimed property case, creating the potential return of nearly $19 million in escheated funds to Pennsylvania from Delaware.

The case, Delaware v. Pennsylvania et al, was originally filed by Pennsylvania in 2016. It was subsequently joined by 29 other states.

“This ruling means that Pennsylvania residents will have a real opportunity to reclaim millions of dollars in unclaimed property,” Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity said. “The Supreme Court rejected Delaware’s attempt to gain an unfair windfall and struck a strong blow in favor of consumers. I’m eager to get to the business of returning this money to the hardworking people it rightfully belongs to.”

The Court’s decision adopted much of the reasoning and many of the arguments advanced by Pennsylvania Treasury.

The next step is for the Special Master appointed by the Supreme Court to determine exactly how much money is owed to Pennsylvania and other states. It’s estimated that Delaware could owe as much as $400 million in escheated funds to other states – including the nearly $19 million to Pennsylvania – as unclaimed property from MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., a provider of money transfer and bill payment services.

This is the first time in almost 30 years that the Supreme Court considered a question involving the laws governing unclaimed property.

Pennsylvania argued that uncashed “official checks” sold by MoneyGram in Pennsylvania are a form of money order. According to the Federal Disposition Act (FDA), uncashed money orders and similar instruments are to be escheated to the state in which they were originally purchased. Delaware argued that MoneyGram’s “official checks” do not fall into this FDA classification, and are therefore due to the state where the company is incorporated.

In May 2021, SCOTUS-appointed Special Master Judge Pierre N. Leval of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 100-page report which ruled in Pennsylvania’s favor, finding that Delaware improperly demanded and received uncashed MoneyGram checks purchased in other states. Today’s Supreme Court decision adopted the recommendations of that report.

In Special Master Leval’s 2021 report, he conclusively determined the disputed MoneyGram “official checks” should be returned to the state of original purchase in compliance with the FDA. He found Delaware’s argument to be logically “flawed” and both “insubstantial and unpersuasive.”

In October 2022, Pennsylvania Treasury and other states presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania’s case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The case was subsequently moved to the Supreme Court as a dispute between states that falls within the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction. After Pennsylvania’s filing, 29 other states filed suit using the same legal arguments advanced by Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the only state directly represented by its unclaimed property administrator, Treasurer Garrity. Pennsylvania Treasury is represented by its Chief Counsel, Christopher B. Craig, along with Matthew H. Haverstick and Joshua J. Voss of Philadelphia-based Kleinbard LLC.

The other states were all represented by their respective Attorney General Offices.