beware fake bowie and prince autographs and memorabilia

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

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. (



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 cannot 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 . . .

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