RALEIGH, N.C. – If you're in the market for a diamond-studded gold gorilla pendant, the North Carolina Department of Revenue may have just what you're looking for — thanks to busted drug dealers.
The department hopes to auction hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry — including a $38,000 watch and a $23,000 gold pendant depicting Jesus — confiscated during drug busts over the past year by the department's unauthorized substances division.
Necklaces, rings and bracelets will be available alongside more unique items, such as a $29,500 Jacob & Co. five time zone watch with a face of sparkling yellow, pink and blue stones forming the continents on a world map. A silver-colored men's Breitling 1884 chronometre watch is listed at $38,000.
The diamond gorilla has a stone missing, but it's still appraised at $21,600.
"You'd be surprised who buys this stuff," Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kim Brooks said Monday.
New owners won't get the stories behind the jewelry, though some collectors have bought pieces because they knew their history.
The public auction, scheduled for Thursday at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, will be the first of its kind in nine years.
Law enforcement agencies pick up cars, boats and other items, too, but usually everything is sold through a sealed bid process. This year, enough jewelry was confiscated to put together a public auction, Brooks said.
"We felt we had enough items that would be of interest to folks that might generate a little more money," she said.
The seized pieces often find new homes with husbands shopping for their wives or jewelers looking for merchandise to sell. Some are melted down.
The names of people who purchase items during the auction will be public record, but requests for that information must go through the revenue department's public information officer.
Three-quarters of the profits will go to law enforcement agencies responsible for the arrests. The rest will go to the state's general fund.