Unclaimed property auction comes to Columbia

Friday, September 17, 2010 | 6:29 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A signed Mickey Mantle baseball card, a “Gone With the Wind” theater booklet and a 1979 1-ounce gold Krugerrand coin are among hundreds of items being sold at an unclaimed property auction on Monday morning.

Under Missouri law, contents of safe deposit boxes must be turned over to the state if the owners cannot be contacted for five years or more. The state treasurer’s office, which oversees unclaimed property, is required to store property for at least one year, at which point it becomes eligible to be auctioned off.

If you go

What: Unclaimed property auction.

When: 9 a.m. Monday. The public can preview the items from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday and from 7 to 9 a.m. Monday.

Admission: Free

For information: unclaimed property auction website

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The auction is open to the public. Items to be auctioned may be previewed on Sunday evening and before the auction on Monday.

This year’s auction, held at Stoney Creek Inn & Conference Center, includes jewelry, coins, collectibles and tableware but will not include military medals or insignia, as it has in past years. A law banning the auction of such items went into effect in August.

“I think the issue is one of respect for Missouri heroes,” state Treasurer Clint Zweifel said.

Zweifel’s office works to find heirs of medal recipients.

“We begin going back through family histories,” he said. “If we can’t do that, we try to make sure these medals see the light of day.”

Zweifel said that if families cannot be located, medals will be sent to an appropriate new home, such as a museum.

Neither unclaimed property nor proceeds from the auctions ever become property of the state. The amount each item is sold for is recorded in the name of the owner. Original owners or legal heirs are able to claim the money, which is kept in trust until claimed.

“We returned $35 million last year,” Zweifel said. “Thirty-five million back in the Missouri economy is a good thing.”

Both the amount of money returned and the number of people who claimed it, 92,000, set new state records.

The treasurer’s office reports more than $600 million in unclaimed assets are currently in the trust, and one in 10 Missourians has unclaimed property. An online database,, allows people to view outstanding accounts and file claims.

“The auction serves a statutory purpose, but it also gives us a chance to highlight the program,” Zweifel said.

Auctions are held when the storage vault fills up. The last auction was held in 2004.

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