WEST PALM BEACH – To simplify the task of sifting through the thousands of jewels that will soon be auctioned, Charles Prudhomme carries a small magnifying glass and a powerful magnet in his pockets.
The man from Charlotte, NC, admits it’s difficult to closely examine the vast collections of gold and silver coins, which are organized by lot number in thick plastic pockets, “but it’s is better than nothing “. The magnet, on the other hand, will give it a quick response if the metal is pure. If the metal sticks to the magnet, it moves on to the next batch.
On Friday, dozens of people like Prudhomme mulled over the 491 lots containing 88,919 items in a ballroom at the Embassy Suites on Belvedere Road, searching for treasures among items left in abandoned safes.
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At 9 a.m. on Saturday, the Florida Department of Financial Services auction of unclaimed property will begin. Friday noon, 63 people were registered for the auction. Anyone who is still interested can register as of 7 a.m., but will not have the benefit of reviewing the exhibits in person.
This is the second in-person auction this year, after the department held a virtual auction for the first time in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
âIt’s pretty exciting, as you can see people are looking at (the inventory),â said Jimmy Patronis, Florida chief financial officer. âThey are all experts. They have a sense of value.
Gray plastic bins were filled with commemorative coins and collectible sports cards; Iraqi dinars and Brazilian cruzados; and, of course, lots and lots of jewelry, like a 4.5 carat pear shaped diamond ring or a Rolex Presidential watch worth thousands.
How does unclaimed property end up in an auction?
Florida’s Unclaimed Property Division keeps these unclaimed items for two years, after a bank failed to track down the owner of a safe that has not paid rent for three consecutive years. If the owner is still not found, the items in the box are auctioned.
In some cases, the owner of the box will discover that they have unclaimed goods and can claim them before the auction. These Thursday items included a collection of jewelry valued over $ 3,000, two 1976 Eisenhower dollar coins valued at approximately $ 500, and a pocket watch valued at $ 140 .
But if that realization comes too late, the state will write the owner a check for how much the items were auctioned off. Anyone can check if they own any unclaimed property, which can also include items like rental property deposits, by visiting FLTreasureHunt.gov. Last year, the state paid $ 349 million in unclaimed property.
How do you know if you have funds waiting to be claimed?
The state says one in five Floridians has funds waiting to be claimed in a long forgotten account. Rebecca Westra was one of them.
After entering her name on the Florida Treasure Hunt website, the Loxahatchee resident learned that an insurance company owed her $ 140.
This will be Westra’s first auction. But like the experts who circled the lots for a treasure on Friday, she too was on a mission. Westra looked for a replacement for something that was irreplaceable: her engagement ring which she lost 10 years ago.
As a massage therapist, she took off her ring because it scratched her clients; afterwards, she put her ring back on, saying that she was always “very careful”. But she remembered putting it in the coin compartment of her car, and there haven’t been any since.
Westra wanted to try her hand at bidding for a ring because the starting auction is cheaper than a retail store. She spotted a few rings she liked at auction. Westra hopes she won’t be outbid, but understands the competition she may face.
âNo one is going to take pity on me. They also want to get it, so they can sell it or whatever, âshe said.
Prudhomme has attended auctions like these for about 15 years in Florida and states like Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. The Sunshine State stands out for the number of retirees, he said.
âA lot of people have different things from different areas, so it’s a place where things sort of come from all different areas and all end up in the same place,â Prudhomme said.
He usually looks for gold, silver, and diamonds to resell to make ends meet.
âYou are not going to get rich. It’s a work. It’s work, âhe said. âThere are a lot of different things to bet on. Sometimes you go out on top and sometimes you lose.
If you are going to
What: Auction of unclaimed goods
Or: Embassy Suites, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach
When: Saturday September 25
Time: Registration at 7 a.m. 9h auction
More information: https://www.fltreasurehunt.gov/Auction.jsp