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The BVG auction: Where to buy what’s lost and found

Ever wondered what happens to all the stuff left on Berlin's public transport? Every three months, it gets sold off at the BVG auction.

Photo: IMAGO / Funke Foto Services

We’ve all been there. Can’t find your headphones, your wallet, your prosthetic leg and then you realise: you left it on the bus! Well, if you didn’t weren’t able to track it down earlier, you can always turn up for Berlin’s BVG auction and try to buy it back. Here’s everything you need to know about this public transport sell-off.

What happens to stuff that gets lost on Berlin public transport?

Each year, more than 40,000 items end up here at the BVG lost property office, restoring our faith in humanity that if someone comes across your bag or wallet or Persian rug (a genuine item that has ended up in BVG lost property) then they’ll hand it in rather than keep it for themselves. That’s why it’s always worth checking at the BVG lost and found before giving up on your favourite pair of sunglasses.

Get your sunglasses by the bag full at the BVG auction. Photo: Christopher Bouchard

The actual lost property storeroom of the BVG is located near Warschauer straße – and they get some unusual stuff. Some of the more surprising items to have been handed in have included prosthetic legs, large construction equipment, ornate artwork and confusingly large furniture. But what happens if someone never comes back for their items? You can’t have that gold-framed picture of Jesus lying abandoned in the storeroom for months on end…

What is the BVG Auction?

This is where the BVG Auction comes in. Four times a year, items that have surpassed the 6-week holding period are taken from lost property and sold off to the highest bidder. Seeing as almost anything can be lost on public transport, pretty much anything can end up on sale at this auction.

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Expect umbrellas and bikes, jewellery and tool kits, musical instruments and whole bags stuffed with sunglasses and headphones. What you won’t find though are electronics which might have stuff saved on them: some of the most commonly lost items on public transport like phones, tablets or laptops must be professionally destroyed for data protection reasons.

Photo: IMAGO / Funke Foto Services

When is it?

The auction happens four times a year. Last time we checked, they sold off 1,900 items. But those shelves start to fill up again pretty quickly. To find out when the next one is click here.

Where is it?

The BVG auction is usually held at the Ulrich Beier Auction House in Tempelhof. This place is worth a visit in itself, as it hosts regular auctions, including some rather unusual ones like when they sold off the contents of a former DDR Museum in Brandenburg. When you turn up, you need to leave a small deposit for your bidding number – and then you can start to bid for all everything and anything left behind on the BVG. Happy hunting! 

Photo: Christopher Bouchard