For guidebook publisher Tim Zagat it was a tax refund worth nearly $3,000. For former Attorney General Michael Mukasey it was a chunk of back pay from Columbia Law School. And for Madonna it was an old paycheck.
Celebs and regular folks alike are among tens of thousands who have recently claimed a portion of the $13.3 billion in "forgotten funds" managed by the New York state comptroller, the New York Times reported during the weekend.
The flurry of checks follows an August story in the Times on the giant pool of back wages, dividend checks and the contents of various accounts held in state coffers (more than $62 billion nationwide). In New York state, the funds represented some 31 million dormant accounts that banks, insurers, utility companies and other creditors turn over to the state when they say they can't locate the rightful owners. Before surrendering the funds, those institutions generally have a two- to five-year window to notify account holders by mail or through newspaper advertisements.
Since that story ran nearly two months ago, 53,000 people have filed claims with state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli -- "several thousand more" claimants than the number who filed during the same time last year, the Times reported in its follow-up piece. DiNapoli's office had paid out $14 million in verified claims by the end of September.
Apparently Madonna was owed "at least two paychecks" from the Walt Disney Co. and Warner Music, the Times said. So far, she's gotten one of them.