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Another Ticket From the Bad-News Jackpot Is on the Block

September 8, 1994

NEW YORK (AP) _ Like the Hope Diamond or the treasures of Tutankhamen, a $15 million lottery jackpot from 1987 seems to have brought its owners as much grief as gold.

Three people shared the prize. Only one remains. A car wreck and old age sent the other two on to a higher reward before they could collect most of their shares.

What’s more, their estates suffered cash problems - more bad news for the heirs, but good news for anyone rich enough to buy up what remained of the winnings.

Keith Solomon and Dora Saxon are the only New York Lotto jackpot winners ever to have their tickets put up for auction. Solomon’s was sold in 1992; Mrs. Saxon’s goes on the block September 20.

Only Richard E. Cibelli Sr., who was 55 when he won, is still alive and collecting.

Spared from the Curse of the Killer Ticket, Cibelli built a pharmacy and medical supply business and plans to retire this year.

″It’s been a blessing,″ Cibelli said. ″It added years to my life by taking the pressure off. When it happened I was happy that others won too.

″People kidded me that I had lost $10 million, but I was relieved. I didn’t want it to change my life or spoil my family,″ he said by telephone from his (pre-Lotto) home.

The three winners selected numbers 8, 19, 21, 41, 46 and 48 on $1 lottery tickets for the drawing of July 22, 1987. Each received a check for $238,095 on the spot, to be followed by 20 annual payments of about $145,000 after taxes.

Solomon, a 55-year-old porter, cashed only two checks before a fatal auto accident in 1988. With estate taxes and expenses mounting, his heirs had to auction off what was left.

The successful bidder, an insurance company, paid $2.075 million for the last 16 payments - worth $3.8 million - and figured its ultimate return would be a shade under 10 percent a year.

As for Mrs. Saxon, a 78-year-old widow who died in 1992, the Surrogate Court has approved a Sept. 20 auction for the $3.12 million still due her over the next 13 years.

Bidders must post $155,975 bond just to get in the door - 10 percent of the minimum bid set by the estate.

Joseph Kurey of Citibank, which is an executor, called the $1.56 million minimum a bargain, returning nearly 12 percent a year. The estate hoped brisk bidding might boost the price to $1.8 million.

Although Solomon’s was the first ticket ever auctioned by an estate, there have been court-approved cash buyouts of other winners who collected their eternal reward before their cash, said state Lottery spokesman Bill Murray.

In March 1993, heirs of Earl T. Williams, a Buffalo construction worker who won $1.5 million in 1983, sold the $870,000 remaining in his jackpot for $490,000 to pay off estate taxes and debts.

Cibelli’s hoping his good luck can continue. He still buys Lotto tickets every week.

″I bought $300 worth of tickets for the last one,″ he said. ″Nothing won, not even for a small prize, but it’s fun anyway.″

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