PHOENIX — For generations, safe deposit boxes have been a safe and secure way to store valuables. Starting Friday morning, thousands of items left unclaimed in those boxes – issued by banks and other financial institutions – will go up for auction.
Sierra Auction Phoenix will host the auction of more than 1,300 items, both in-person and online. Some of the items unclaimed in the boxes include gold, silver, diamonds and collectible baseball cards.
How we got here
When banks or other institutions that rent boxes lose contact with the owner, the business may spend years trying to track down that owner, or family of the owner. When that fails, the institution turns the property over to the State of Arizona.
“Whoever left it in the box, there is sentimental value attached to it," said Ed Greenberg, director of communication with Arizona Department of Revenue, the agency tasked with trying to track down the rightful owners.
The Department of Revenue will spend years trying to find the owners of this property. AZDOR even has a website dedicated to advertising the unclaimed property and reuniting owners, or their families, with the items.
“In some cases, someone has passed away and the family members are not aware that there is a safe deposit box that they are entitled to.”
When an owner is not located
When AZDOR fails to find the rightful owner, the department will then auction off the items. Every year, the Department of Revenue partners with Sierra Auction Phoenix to host the auction.
“Anything raised from this auction stage," Greenberg said, “Those proceeds go back into the custodial account in the event that the rightful owner or family members come forward to make a claim.”
The auction house sees a variety of items from AZDOR pass through its doors.
“Baseball memorabilia is always interesting,” said Nick Carr, vice president of Sierra Auctions. “We’ve had cards that go back, geez, 80 years.”
The quickest items to go tend to be the precious metals. Gold and diamonds are among the more popular items.
“We have several bars of 10 troy ounces of gold,” Carr said. “We have a 100 troy ounce bar of silver.”
Never hold a 100 troy ounce bar of silver? Imagine a brick that weighs a bit more than a gallon of milk.
Doors for Sierra Auction Phoenix, located at 3750 Grand Ave. in Phoenix, open at 11 a.m. Friday Morning. Registration begins at 10 a.m.
356 items are available at the in-person auction. However, if a bidder wants to stay home and bid, more than 1,300 online-only items are available until Sunday at 5:00 p.m.