FAKE AUTOGRAPHS are back in the news, this time featuring a mother-son combo forging the signatures on thousands of sports items. And while it hasn’t made any headlines, the recent unexpected deaths of two beloved superstars should have every collector of Bowie and Prince autographs treading cautiously as this is when they are ripest for a rip-off!
A Grand Jury in Mahoning County, Ohio, is reviewing evidence concerning Cliff and Ruth Panezich as perpetrating “the biggest case of domestic fraud in the history of the online auction site eBay.” The mother-son combo is accused of forging autographs, printing up phony certificates of authenticity, using multiple eBay and PayPal accounts, and laundering money through the accounts of colleagues. (WFMJ.com)
Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat,” remains the most sought-after autograph in the sports memorabilia field. While this 1930s signature is genuine, who among us mere mortals could know? PSA/DNA rejects almost 2/3 of the Ruth signatures submitted to them for authentication!
25,000 eBay buyers ripped off
Allegedly, the Paneziches bilked 25,000 buyers out of more than $2,000,000 over a period of years with auctions on eBay. There’s nothing new here, as fake autographs and ersatz memorabilia is BIG business in the world of collectables.
“Since 1998, PSA/DNA has evaluated several million autographs. Last year alone, PSA/DNA’s team of experts reviewed well over 400,000 autographs from collectors and dealers worldwide. It is not uncommon for the rejection rate at PSA/DNA to exceed 50% on some of the more prominent names.
What is most startling about that statistic is the fact that PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries since hobbyists are well aware of our expertise and standing in the industry. In other words, if the rejection rate for a particular autograph approaches 50% with PSA/DNA, you can only imagine how high that percentage of forgeries might be in the overall marketplace.” (PSA/DNA)
This early Bowie piece is apparently legitimate, but not even the Prince Online Fan Community can agree on how to determine genuine Prince autographs.
Beware Bowie and Prince autographs
And it’s not just sports signatures, as rock forgeries are still a fixture on the Internet: “Ebay Seller Selling Dozens of Fake Rock Autographs!” The death of a popular artist brings lots of “autographs” out of lots of fan’s closets. Bogus Elvis items have been a fixture on the collectables market for almost forty years now.
While there is nothing startling on the Internet concerning the shocking deaths of Bowie and Prince, I would be remiss in my expertly duties if I did not at least suggest that readers beware fake Bowie and Prince autographs and memorabilia.
I am posting this as a follow-up to “Fake Autographed Rock Memorabilia Sold At Charity Fundraisers,” which I posted here on September 9, 2014. Finally, and I suppose not really ironically, Cliff Panezich played professional baseball for several years with major league ambitions and even a few possibilities …