The 2011 unclaimed property auction held Saturday in Ponte Vedra Beach was the third highest-grossing auction in the 50-year history of Florida?s unclaimed property program, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced Tuesday.
The even drew about 350 attendees, including 205 bidders, and raising $1.09 million for Florida?s public schools.
The auction, held at the Sawgrass Marriott, also produced the highest-ever sales percentage above reserve: 338.62 percent.
?The auction was a huge success, and I thank everyone who put the auction together and those who attended and placed bids,? said Atwater. ?The department holds about $1 billion in unclaimed cash and property, and I encourage Floridians to frequently check for items we may be holding. It is our goal to give back to Floridians what rightfully belongs to them.?
Atwater opened as guest auctioneer, selling several featured items such as a gold Elgin pocket watch, a Native American belt with 200 grams of silver, a vintage Leica camera, and a personal, hand-written letter, signed by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. All of the auctioned items were from abandoned safe deposit boxes at Florida banks.
Unclaimed money, along with earnings from the auction, is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used for public education. There is, however, no statute of limitations, and citizens have the right to claim their property, or the earnings derived from their abandoned property, any time at no cost.
During Jeff Atwater?s tenure as CFO, the department has returned record amounts to citizens, with more than $134 million this calendar year alone. The Bureau of Unclaimed Property returned $189.32 million in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 -- the largest amount in state history, with a record $24.7 million in the month of June. Since the program?s inception 50 years ago, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property has successfully reunited owners or relatives of deceased owners with more than $2.2 billion in unclaimed property.
To look for or claim unclaimed property, visit FLTreasureHunt.org or call 1-88-VALUABLE or 850-413-3089.