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JPMorgan Is Being Sued For Allegedly Selling $10 Million in Jewelry in a Couple’s Safe Deposit Boxes

Jorge and Stella Araneta claim that the bank auctioned off their items for just $550,000.

Safe deposit boxes Unsplash

You would think that safes would keep your valuables, well, safe. But that may not always be the case.

A couple is suing JPMorgan Chase for allegedly selling off about $10 million in jewelry, precious metals, and coins they were storing in safe deposit boxes, according to Bloomberg. A district judge threw out one of the claims on Wednesday, but the case is continuing with negligence and other counts. (JPMorgan declined to comment to Robb Report.)

Jorge and Stella Araneta—a prominent Filipino businessman and pageant director, respectively—sued the bank last year. The couple, who live mainly in the Philippines but keep an apartment in Manhattan, say that they have leased safe deposit boxes at JPMorgan branches in New York since 2006, renewing them annually. Typically, the payments were taken out of their checking accounts, and invoices and statements were sent to addresses in Manhattan and Miami.

However, the Aranetas claim that the bank mailed notices in March 2016 to a P.O. box in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the couple says they never saw them. The bank claims that the Louisiana address had been on checks the couple had paid their account with previously. In those notices JPMorgan informed the couple that two of their safe deposit boxes would be drilled open and the contents removed if the bank didn’t receive payment within 60 days.

Since the couple was apparently unaware, the bank drilled into four of their seven boxes in February 2017, taking out the contents and transferring them to a secure location. The Aranetas claim that they didn’t learn about what had happened until more than two years later, in October 2019, and they squared up their accounts to make them current. In response, the bank allegedly said that their valuables would be returned.

Yet, less than 10 months later, JPMorgan sold the various items at auction for more than $552,700, according to the lawsuit. That’s a hefty sum, but still way less than the Aranetas say the jewels and more were worth. They estimate that the total is somewhere between $8 million and $10 million—a whole lot to just lose apparently out of nowhere.

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