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State Raises Record Amount for Public Education in Unclaimed Property Auction

8/2/2004

CONTACT: Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-As a result of the Florida Department of Financial Services' annual Unclaimed Property Auction held in Miami on Saturday, more than $800,000 was raised to benefit public education, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today.

More than 30,000 items were put on the auction block, including antique jewelry, sports memorabilia and Mayan artifacts. The state's most valuable item, a 6.9-carat diamond ring, set in platinum, fetched a record $25,000. The items come from abandoned safe deposit boxes in Florida banks and credit unions, which are turned over to the department's Bureau of Unclaimed Property when the owners can't be found. The proceeds from auction are deposited in the State School Trust Fund, managed by the Department of Education, and held indefinitely until the rightful owner is found.

"We're excited to draw a record crowd and raise a record amount for public schools," said Gallagher, who kicked off Saturday's event as guest auctioneer. "The Unclaimed Property Auction is always a great way for Floridians to see their government in action and support education."

The dollars can be used by schools to fund reading and mentoring initiatives as well as to buy needed supplies, Gallagher added.

More than 300 Floridians, a program record, attended a day-long preview of items last Friday and registered as bidders to participate in Saturday's auction.

In addition to safe deposit box items, the state also receives funds from unclaimed bank accounts, utility deposits, insurance refunds and stock payments. According to Gallagher, the state is holding more than $1.1 billion in unclaimed property waiting to be returned to the rightful owners. No fees are ever charged for this state service, he said.

To find out if cash or property is being held by the state for you, or if you are an heir to unclaimed property, log on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or call toll-free 1-88-VALUABLE.