Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

October 27, 2014

Uniform collector and Giants minority owner, Dan Scheinman (top) wrote to the Judge about the sentencing of Bill Mastro (Forbes Photo)

-Bill Mastro, Doug Allen and Mark Theotikos had a status hearing on October 15th in US District Court in Chicago as they await sentencing based on their guilty pleas entered earlier this year.  According to papers filed in Chicago, all three men are scheduled to appear in court again for another status hearing on November 14th.

-Dan Scheinman, a minority owner of the San Francisco Giants and a prominent uniform collector, recently wrote a letter to Judge Ronald A. Guzman in regard to the Mastro case which was published last week in Chicago Federal Court. In the letter, Scheinman has some choice words for Bill Mastro and his partner Doug Allen telling the Judge:

“My view is that the scope and nature of their activities are much deeper and broader than they have admitted in public.  My purpose in writing today is actually not too rehash the harm done by shill bidding or by alteration of items, but instead to seek your help as you approach sentencing.  My current belief is that each of these men has significant information pertaining to the authenticity of many items, and that to date, they have not been completely open with regard to that information. I would welcome them both being honest about which items they have sold where the items have dubious authenticity (or came from dubious sources).”

-Scheinman closed out his letter telling the court that while jail time was necessary he believes that “a more honest telling of their story might be worth a reduction of their time.”

-Forbes published a profile of Scheinman in 2012 showing a jersey in his collection attributed to Bobby Thompson from the “Shot Heard Round The World” game in 1951 as well as others with game-use attributed to Dizzy Dean and Chuck Klein. Forbes mentioned his ownership of other jerseys attributed to several 1927 Yankees players, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial and Ted Williams and also noted that Scheinman’s first significant purchases were made at the 1999 Barry Halper sale at Sotheby’s.  Some of Scheinman’s jerseys have made the rounds through the auction and show circuit with previous sales from “dubious sources” including Wolfers Auctions, Grey Flannel, REA, Barry Halper, Lou Costanza and MastroNet.  Scheinman has purchased several jerseys that have passed through Mastro auctions including Dutch Reuther’s 1927 Yankee road uniform and Christy Mathewson’s c1901 New York Giants jersey (sold by REA/MastroNet in 2000).  Scheinman, a life-long Giant fan who purchased his stake in the club in 2001, declined comment on whether he is questioning any specific Mastro-sourced jerseys in his collection.

-Barry Halper’s dubious and fraudulent jerseys sold in 1999 do resurface in the marketplace and his Bill Bevens jersey is on the block again at Heritage Auctions. In 2012, uniform expert, Dave Grob, confirmed that this Halper jersey sold at Sotheby’s as Bevens’ 1947 Yankee road jersey was misrepresented as evidenced by its button placement. (REA sold the same jersey again in 2001 for $4,591 and Mastro sold it years later in 2006 for $3,361.) When REA sold the jersey they highlighted a letter of authenticity from Bevens, himself, stating that he wore the same jersey when his ho-hitter was broken up by Cookie Lavagetto. But as Grob illustrated in a photographic plate (above), the Halper jersey was not the one that Bevens and the three auctioneers said it was.  What is most amazing about the original offering of this jersey is that Halper and REA President Rob Lifson illustrated a photo of Bevens in the Sotheby’s catalog showing that the button placement was wrong but still sold it as the actual jersey worn for that game. Now Heritage and Chris Ivy are selling the jersey and stating: “Though originally marketed as the uniform sported by Bevens that fateful day, due in large part to a letter from Bevens himself claiming this association, period photography disproves the contention and identifies this as a different, authentic road set. As the MEARS A10 rating illustrates, the uniform is 100% original and unaltered…”

-Dave Grob, the MEARS senior uniform authenticator, told us he did not examine the Bevens jersey for the Heritage sale.  Readers may recall similar authenticity issues with a baseball Barry Halper sold as the actual ball that broke up Bevens’ no-hitter during that same game in the 1947 Series.

-Troy Kinunen, President of MEARS, told us that the authentication was done by Dave Bushing who wrote the jersey LOA in 2006. Kinunen says that the MEARS letter does not identify the garment “as a World Series jersey.”

-Forbes writer Eric Savitz quoted Dan Scheinman calling his collecting focus as the “murky world of jerseys” and, from our perspective, it looks like Scheinman may have avoided scores of fakes and frauds that were offered by Halper and Lifson at Sotheby’s in 1999.  Scheinman’s MLB partners, however, were not as lucky when Bud Selig passed along their money to the Baseball Hall of Fame to purchase millions of dollars worth of fake items from Halper including jerseys fraudulently attributed to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson and Buck Leonard. Ironically, in his report, Savitz identified several other fraudulent Halper items as being genuine including Lou Gehrig’s last glove, Mickey Mantle’s c 1960 glove and Ty Cobb’s dentures (which are believed to be an Al Stump created fake).

REA sold this Upper Deck "Pieces of History" Babe Ruth bat card for $2,500. The back of the card pictures the bat that was allegedly cut up and reveals that it was purchased from Bill Mastro and Mastro Fine Sports.

-Upper Deck’s “Pieces of History” Babe Ruth game-used bat relic card sold for $1,200 in REA’s auction last week and the buyer could probably benefit from the types of revelations Scheinman would like to hear from Bill Mastro.  As indicated on the back of the card Mastro was the seller of the alleged game used Ruth bat that was cut up and destroyed by the trading card company.  The card reads:  ”On the front of this card is an Authentic piece of bat used by Babe Ruth. This bat was obtained from Mastro Fine Sports one of the most highly acclaimed experts of baseball memorabilia in the industry industry.” Sources indicate that Mastro and other auction executives (and experts) supplied the trading card companies with questionable and problematic game-used bats which did not feature the size and weight specifications that would pass as “game-used” in their own auctions and sales.  In addition, the bat illustrated on the Upper Deck card sold at REA does not appear to be one ever sold in a Mastro auction.  We compared the bat depicted to all of the Mastro bat sales dating back to 1997 and could not locate it.

Panini and Upper Deck have created fraudulent "relic cards" like a Jim Thorpe uniform card and other cards with bat fragments attributed to unverified game-use by Babe Ruth and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.

-Heritage Auctions is currently offering a Babe Ruth relic card alleged to house a piece of the Bambino’s actual game used pants.  It would be nice to know which Ruth pants were used to create this card and how the card company determined the pants were authentic and actually worn by the Bambino.  Heritage says the uniform fragment is “a swatch of grey flannel that once served as part of Ruth’s road uniform.”  The current bid on the PSA-graded card is $1,700 with a “$3,000 and up” estimate.

-eBAY is currently offering for sale on its auction site many fraudulent “relic-cards” produced by Panini (and Donruss), Upper Deck, Topps and Leaf.  Like the two bat cards offered by REA and the Ruth “pants card” being offered by Heritage, the offerings show that the card companies have done little due diligence before creating and marketing these products to consumers.  Amazingly, these fraudulent materials (many of which originated with former MLB minority partner Barry Halper) have been endorsed by the Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball and are currently playing a role in an on-going case of consumer fraud. In the course of our own on-going investigation into fraud related to “relic cards” we have confirmed that Heritage Auctions has sold a significant number of cards made from these bogus materials. Look out for more on this in our upcoming reports.

The website (left) for the class action lawsuit against Bob Eaton's RR Auctions posted information stating that PSA/DNA and attorney Keith Attlesey (right, top) failed to appear for depositions last week. Sources say PSA has rejected service of subpoenas for Steve Grad and Joe Orlando.

-PSA was scheduled for depositions last week according to the website for the class action suit filed against RR Auctions. But an update to the site late last week indicates that PSA’s “Custodian of Records” and the company’s lawyers from Attlesey & Storm (also the lawyers for Bob Eaton and RR) failed to show up for the court-ordered proceedings “in violation of a duly served civil subpoena.”

-Michael Johnson, the collector who is the plaintiff in the lawsuit declined comment on the case but said that the lawsuit website would be updated with new information early this week.

-Robert Edward Auctions sold a Babe Ruth single-signed ball for close to $40,000 last week despite the fact that several experts questioned its authenticity.  The ball was signed on an American Association ball bearing the facsimile signature of the league president George Trautman and a reader sent us images of four other Trautman-Ruth balls that have sold at auction since 1998 at Mastro & Steinbach; Huggins & Scott; Mastro Auctions and a second example at REA.  We presented the images of all the balls together to several experts and others we consider sharp on Ruth’s signature and several of them indicated they were of the opinion that all of the balls were signed in the same hand and that the hand was not that of Ruth. One expert told us, “I’d agree the same forger did them all, particularly if all of them just came to the market  in the past 16 years.” If you have knowledge of any other Trautman-Ruth balls please send images to us at:  Tips@haulsofshame.com

The Babe Ruth ball sold by REA last week was signed on an American Association Ball just like four others sold at auction since 1998.

-Barry Halper’s alleged Babe Ruth suitcase sold for $5,000 in the REA sale last week despite the fact that HOS called it out as a fraud without any verifiable provenance.  One reader pointed out that the embossed “Babe Ruth” name in gold leaf was applied to the leather luggage over pre-existing damage and wear and tear. As one of our readers commented, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

A close up of the alleged Babe Ruth suitcase sold at REA reveals that the gold embossed name was applied on top of pre-existing wear and tear to the leather bag.

-Linda Ruth Tosetti, the Babe’s granddaughter, is very skeptical of the suitcase sold by REA and told us she has a genuine Ruth suitcase that has been in her family since the 1940s and shows consistent wear. There is no existing evidence to support Halper’s claims that he purchased items directly from the Ruth family and as readers may recall it was Halper who lied about purchasing Ruth’s 1927 World Series ring from Tosetti’s mother, Dorothy Ruth-Pirone.

A 1917 letter written by Branch Rickey to August Herrmann was withdrawn from Heritage Auctions' current sale under suspicion it was stolen from the Hall of Fame.

-The National Baseball Hall of Fame has still not honored our FOIA request for documents related to the stolen 1909 Pirate photo that was pulled from the recent Huggins & Scott sale.  In addition to that incident being investigated by the local Cooperstown Police, another item stolen from the Hall’s National Baseball Library appeared in Heritage’s current sale but was pulled after HOS identified it as a stolen item on Twitter.  The letter was slated as Lot #82800–a 1917 letter written by Branch Rickey to August Herrmann as the Vice President of the St. Louis Cardinals.

-Jimmy Spence and JSA have been in the news lately  since the company was linked to authentications of large groups of autographed items signed by college football stars Jameis Winston of Florida St. and Todd Gurley of Georgia.  JSA, however, has had an easier time rubber stamping items they witnessed being signed right under their own noses than they have authenticating a football dating back to the pioneer days of the NFL. (Although JSA also denies witnessing the Heisman trophy winner’s signing sessions.)

-MEARS Auctions just sold a football alleged to have been signed by the 1931 Green Bay Packers and authenticated by Jimmy Spence and JSA. The ball was advertised by the auction house as the “Finest Known Example Extant.”

Jimmy Spence (right) has been in the news for his authentications of items signed by Heisman winner Jamies Winston. MEARS Auctions sold an alleged 1931 Green Bay Packer signed football for over $13,000 with an LOA issued by JSA. Experts, however, say the signatures are not genuine and contrast authentic examples, one of which JSA previously authenticated on a 1938 Packer football.

-Hauls of Shame readers tipped us off about the 1931 Packer ball and one of them said:  ”Not many authentic autographs on this football.  Some of the autographs appear to have been written by a grade school child (e.g., that of Johnny “Blood” McNally or Bo Molenda).  Another key autograph, that of Curly Lambeau, is almost completely wrong.  I don’t see any evidence where Lambeau added quotation marks around Curly that early in his coaching career, nor should there be a break between the “m” and “b” in Lambeau.  Also, the “L” is very unusual and unlike any other I have seen.  Other autographs such as those penned by Arnie Herber and Cal Hubbard are also very different from known authentic examples.  There are many more deviations from the signatory norm with some of the players’ names (Dick Stahlman, Hurdis McCraray, Arnold Herber) being written by the same hand (the “H” in Herber perfectly matches the “H” in “Hurdis”).” Two experts we showed this ball to echoed our reader’s sentiments calling the ball “a joke” and one added, “These are not autographs but someone chiseling in names on an old football.  No way can someone call these autographs. What exemplars did they use?  I can’t find any that match.” The other expert who is very familiar with the handwriting of Lambeau and Hubbard said, “I couldn’t get beyond the Cal Hubbard and Curly Lambeau signatures, total fakes.”

-Troy Kinunen, of MEARS, told us that when JSA issued its full LOA for the 1931 Packer football, the alleged signature of Arnie Herber was identified as a secretarial.

-A Hauls of Shame reader may have given us the quote of the year in regard to the TPAs: “Two people control a billion dollar industry and both of them were put on their pedestal by the guy who is about to go away to prison for committing some of the hobby’s greatest frauds.”


By Peter J. Nash

October 16, 2014

The Yogi Berra Museum (top left) was robbed last week and NYDN reporter Michael O'Keeffe (bottom right) went to Rob Lifson (top right) for an expert opinion on museum thefts. Lifson's current REA sale includes a bogus Jackie Robinson ring (bottom left).

(Scroll to Bottom For Updates)

-Yogi Berra is famous for saying “It’s Deja Vu all over again” but he never thought that classic line would link himself and his museum to other baseball legends like A.G. Spalding, Harry Wright, Henry Chadwick, and the New York Public Library’s famous Spalding Collection. When Berra’s museum was robbed last week, he unfortunately became forever linked with the multi-million dollar heist at the Fifth-Avenue branch of the library as robbers raided museum display cases and boosted sixteen of his treasured World Series rings (a mix of period and replacement rings) and his two MVP awards.

-David Kaplan, the director of the Berra Museum, refuted several published reports which said that the historic glove Berra used to catch Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series was also stolen. Kaplan confirmed for Hauls of Shame that the glove is safe and secure.  The value of the items stolen from Berra easily exceeds $1 million.

-Michael O’Keeffe and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News broke the story last Wednesday and credit has to go to O’Keeffe who opted to quote REA auctioneer Rob Lifson as an expert on institutional thefts.

-Rob Lifson told the Daily News, “This is very unique material and it would have to stay underground. These are not mass-produced items — it’s like trying to sell a famous painting. Anyone who bought them would have to keep it secret. Why not just steal the Mona Lisa and try to sell that instead?”  Having been caught stealing rare artifacts from NYPLs Spalding Collection and having trafficked more stolen materials than any other auctioneer, Lifson definitely delevered an “expert opinion.”

-Detective Dean Cioppa of the Passaic County Prosecutors Office has been identified on Twitter by Yogi’s granddaughter, Lindsay Berra, as looking for information and leads from collectors in connection with the robbery. He can be reached at 973-837-7667. A $5,000 reward was initially offered by Crimestoppers according to Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and that reward has increased to over $30,000 thanks to donations from Berra fans and supporters.

-The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center’s recent loss has also rekindled interest in claims that the museum purchased and then sold a large Negro League collection from a patron (who had also donated significant materials to the museum). Sources indicate that the museum leadership, under the auspices of director David Kaplan, bought the collection for several hundred thousand dollars and then sold the collection to a private collector for a profit.  One source also says the original owner of the collection sold his artifacts to the museum at a discount so that the local African-American community could have access to it and that he was never officially notified of the sale. The seller thought his valuable collection had found a permanent home at Montclair St. and museum officials allegedly told the patron that an expansion of the museum would ultimately house his entire collection. David Kaplan confirmed that the museum sold the collection “several years ago” and claims that the museum had the legal right to dispose of the entire collection.

Yogi Berra joins Henry Chadwick, Harry Wright, and A.G. Spalding as a fellow Hall of Famer whose collection has been compromised and burglarized in the Tri-State area.

-Yogi Berra’s loss of the treasured items from his Yankee career also links him to fellow Hall of Famers Chadwick, Spalding and Wright in that all of their institutional baseball collections were robbed in the Tri-State area.

-Robert Edward Auctions is offering several fraudulent items in its current Fall 2014 sale.  The first problematic item our readers alerted us of is an alleged 1946 Montreal Royals championship ring “attributed to Jackie Robinson.”  The first and most glaring problem facing this item is that it comes with an LOA from Barry Halper who claimed to have purchased it from Rachel Robinson in 1976.  A source close to the Robinson family tells us that Robinson’s widow never sold anything to Barry Halper in his lifetime. Another source told us that he attended the premiere of the Robinson bio-pic 42 and that at the event Rachel Robinson introduced auctioneer Josh Evans of Lelands as the only person she had ever sold any of her husband’s memorabilia to.  In addition, several collectors and dealers who knew him in 1976 said Halper was not a big collector of rings at that time and refuted the claims in his LOA noting that collector-dealer George Lyons was the most prolific buyer of championship rings in the mid 1970s through the early 1980s.  Considering Halper’s outright fraud related to fabricating the provenance of  Joe Jackson and Mickey Mantle materials he falsely claimed he purchased or acquired from the Jackson family and Yankee clubhouse man Pete Sheehy, REA should have rejected the tainted ring without a second thought.  (And we didn’t even mention yet that Halper also sold a 1970’s Rawlings jersey to the Hall of Fame claiming it was Jackie Robinson’s last game-used jersey from 1956.)

-Rob Lifson and REA claim in the lot description: “We even contacted Rachel Robinson about this ring, but unfortunately, according to her assistant, Mrs. Robinson could neither confirm nor deny its provenance or provide any information.”  Our source says he knows for sure she never sold any such ring to Halper and most all hobbyists we spoke with find it hard to believe that Robinson’s widow was selling off his personal awards and artifacts just a few years after he passed away. REA has not posted the Halper letter on its website although sources indicate that requests have been made for Lifson to post the LOA which is believed to be fraudulent. That being said, the ring has failed to receive an opening bid of $10,000.

Evidence shows that Barry Halper (center) lied about the provenance of REAs alleged 1946 Jackie Robinson ring (left). Halper also sold a fraudulent Robinson jersey to MLB and the HOF in 1998. Halper said it was Robinson's last from 1956, but it didn't match photos of Robinson's jerseys in 1956 (right) and was manufactured in the 1970s.

-Robert Edward Auctions in its lot description also establishes that the only link to Robinson is the Halper story and the “JRR” initials engraved on one side of the ring (with the other side left blank). Engraving initials on the exterior of a ring is highly unorthodox for the period and the fact that no other example has ever surfaced (other than Halper’s rarity) has also fueled speculation that the ring is not genuine. Instead of rejecting the item after learning of these issues, REA added this to the lot description: “Given the information we have, we seem to be left with the following additional possibilities: that either Robinson, the Montreal Royals, or someone else had this ring specially made years afterwards. While that might seem unlikely to some, it is not, and we have firsthand experience with regard to such a circumstance.” REA leaves out the likelier third option:  The ring is an outright fraud and fake.

-Michael Borken, the championship ring watchdog from Sportsrings.com, has no opinion on the fraudulent Robinson ring and told us, “I had no interest in the ring from a collecting standpoint so I did not spend any time looking into the ring or formulating an opinion based on Halper’s letter.”

-The Jackie Robinson Foundation’s communications director, Josh Balber, passed along our inquiry to the Robinson family but they have not yet responded to Halper’s claim of purchasing the ring from Mrs. Robinson in 1976.

Experts say the Babe Ruth ball in REAs current sale (left) and an encapsulated example (right) are forgeries and contrast the genuine handwriting of Babe Ruth placed upon a ball signed for Ted Williams in the 1943(center).

-Rob Lifson is notorious for selling Babe Ruth fakes, even when experts and other hobbyists present clear and convincing evidence showing that the items are bogus. A perfect example of his peddling fakes is his sale of the now infamous Ruth forgery inscribed to Gary Cooper from his Spring 2013 sale. Now, in his current auction, he includes another Ruth item that experts tell us is a fairly well-done single-signed forgery of Babe Ruth.  The signature on the ball appears to be executed in a slower and more deliberate hand that merely mimics Ruth’s genuine scrawl and lacks the quick movements and a visible “bounce” of his handwriting. The Ruth signature on the REA signed ball appears to the untrained eye as being signed perfectly and neatly but never descends below the straight baseline of the autograph—a tell-tale sign of a Ruth forgery.  The ball is certified genuine by JSA and Jimmy Spence and it now joins a large group of Spence-authenticated forgeries that have flooded the marketplace.

REA is offering an alleged 1925 Senator team ball (bottom) but it features forged signatures on a ball created between 1928 and 1931. HA sold a genuine 1925 team ball (top) which shows the correct stamping and patent information for 1925 on its sweet spot.

-Mastro Auctions was the previous seller of REAs current lot 691, an alleged 1925 AL Champion Washington Senators signed ball featuring Walter “Big Train” Johnson and Clark Griffith.  Mike Gutierrez authenticated the ball for Mastro and JSA and Jimmy Spence have authenticated it for REA.  The problem is that all of the signatures on the ball are poorly executed forgeries which exhibit labored and slowly signed examples of alleged members of the 1925 team.  In addition to that opinion, it is actual fact that the Official AL ball it is signed on was manufactured between 1929 and 1931, according to ball expert Brandon Grunbaum in the Official American League Baseball Guide. The REA ball has stamping that reads: “PAT’D RE. 17200,” which indicates it is impossible for the ball to represent the champion 1925 club. Some collectors have pointed to a Johnson 20th anniversary event in 1927 as the reason for the ball being post-1925, but the REA ball was not created by 1927 either. Considering the expert opinions that strongly identify every signature on the ball as a forgery, the belief that the ball is real appears to be just wishful thinking fueled by a false sense of security created by the LOA from JSA, Jimmy Spence Jr. and Jimbo Spence III.

-Hauls of Shame readers regularly tip us off to items that are misrepresented and identified as rarities in auctions when they are not. One such reader recently pointed out a Chicago Cubs pennant that REA and Lifson call “exceedingly rare” and dates to “the 1920s.”  REA says they have never sold one “over the past forty years” but our reader, collector and pennant expert Dave Maus, from Iowa, quickly pointed out that the same style pennant sold previously at: Legendary in 2011 for $269 (1920’s), Huggins & Scott (1920’s) in 2007 for $325 (as one in a 15 pennant lot), sold as a 1920’s-1930’s pennant at Antiquesportsshop.com for an undisclosed amount and was also offered on the B/S/T section of the website Net54 by member “Perezfan” and described as 1920.  (In addition, another Net54 member “Matty39″ showed off his example (1910) in another thread.)  An identical version of another color was also auctioned by Legendary Auctions in a group of 6 pennants for $658, however, now the pennant was described as having been produced in the 30’s or 40’s. In conclusion, at least (6) six of these “exceedingly rare” Cubs pennants from the “1920s” turned up in just a 15 minute cursory search of the internet and they are described as being produced in different eras ranging from 1910 to the 1940’s.

REA is selling a Chicago Cub pennant as a rarity despite the fact it is quite common. Net54s Leon Luckey and REAs Rob Lifson falsely claim HOS is posting on the collector forum under "fake names."

-Net54 moderator Leon Luckey and his pal Rob Lifson went off the deep end this week and falsely accused this writer of posting on the chat board under fictitious handles.  The episode apparently took place when someone called “The Big Train” posted on a thread about the Yogi Berra thefts and chronicled the misdeeds and fraud of late collector Barry Halper.  In response, another 54 member named Tom Russo, an attorney from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and Cooperstown, New York, who goes by the online name “BigTrain,” defended Halper’s well documented fraud and denied his direct ties to the NYPL thefts. Soon after, “The Big Train” (who posted a link to an old Hauls of Shame article) was suspended from the site and was bizarrely accused of being yours truly by both Lifson and moderator Luckey.

Tom Russo (inset), an attorney from Scotch Plains, NJ, posted slanderous statements about HOS on Net54 under the name "BigTrain" and made additional claims stating he has never seen direct or indirect "proof" that Barry Halper "orchestrated or commissioned thefts" from the NYPL. The montage above features images of items stolen from the NYPL and nearly all of them were once owned by Barry Halper.

-Rob Lifson said, “The very person who has fraudulently signed up on Net54 with a fake name and contact info with the user ID “thebigtrain” (a name obviously chosen to create confusion with longtime poster “BigTrain”) is – I personally have no doubt – none other than Peter Nash himself.” (Hauls of Shame will bet Lifson $293,102.55 that his claim is false and slanderous.)

-Leon Luckey said, “In my mind it is a 99% probability it is Nash. Could I be wrong, maybe….but I absolutely don’t think so.” Luckey added, “I have information that 100% puts Nash on this board, more than once, as an impostor. I have kicked off at least a few aliases, almost assuredly him, in the last few days.”  Perhaps Mr. Luckey can share that information with “The Big Train” and his lawyer.  It appears that super-sleuths Luckey and Lifson were unable to figure out that “The Big Train” is, in fact, a real live person who has no affiliation with Hauls of Shame and is also a practicing attorney who lives in New Jersey.

-Hauls of Shame apologizes to “TheBigTrain” for not responding to an email he sent us back in October of 2013.  We incorrectly thought you were Tom Russo the liar and slanderer who calls himself “BigTrain” and appears to be the charter member of the Halper-Truther Society. It seems only fitting that Tom “BigTrain” Russo’s pal, Rob Lifson, is selling a JSA-certed forgery of Walter “Big Train” Johnson in his current sale.

Net54 members think this JSA-certed signed baseball bat was signed by Hugh Jennings but next to an authentic example (bottom) it bears little resemblance to Jennings own handwriting. Spence originally authenticated the Ty Cobb signature on the bat (top right) but has now reversed his opinion.

-Leon Luckey was nice enough to invite this writer to join his forum at Net54, but I have no desire to jump into that cesspool. Sorry Leon, I already email most of your knowledgeable members regularly as sources for various reports (some of whom also send me your personal emails). I think I’d put a gun to my head if I had to deal with guys like Brendan Mullen posting pics of Hughie Jennings forgeries on baseball bats while Scott Forrest and other “experts” give JSA-certed fakes their thumbs up. Didn’t  Josh Evans tell the owner that bat was a ridiculous fake?

-Net54 threads are sometimes informative and I do read them, but mostly to see what your fellow fraudsters are up to.  I had to ask one of your members to send me the images posted of the bogus Hughie Jennings bat since I have never been a member and have no ability to access photos on your site.  But don’t let that get in the way  of your posting of entirely false and slanderous claims with no evidence whatsoever to back them up. I presume you have lost what little credibility you had with your recent delusional post in which you stated you had “information that 100% puts Nash on this board, more than once, as an impostor.”

-Howard Chasser, another Net54 member, responded to Luckey and wrote, “If and when the posters identity is uncovered – if it turns out to be Nash I am sure the net 54 community will be first to “cry foul” and consider it when assessing our own confidence in his integrity.”  When the “community” learns that Luckey has intentionally posted fraudulent claims about the non-existant “imposters” they can assess his integrity as the board moderator. Looks like Leon Luckey is a card doctor, a shill bidder and a pathological liar to boot.

Joe Orlando and Steve Grad will be deposed in the class action suit vs. RR Auctions. The class action website posts disturbing emails from PSA and JSA authenticator Roger Epperson (above second from right).

-Joe Orlando and Steve Grad are scheduled to be in the deposition chair again on October 24th in conjunction with the class-action lawsuit filed against PSA authenticator Bob Eaton and his auction house RR Auctions.  Interestingly, Eaton and RR are being represented by PSA and Collectors Universe’s attorneys at Attlesey Storm LLC. The website for the class action says that they will be posting video links of the depositions of Eaton and Bobby Livingston but does not indicate if the deps of Orlando and Grad will be on video.  We’re hoping the Grad deposition is posted so collectors can see the Pawn Stars authenticator field his first questions about never being a “grad.”  We suggest anyone collecting autographs check out the class auction website for the section which posts email exchanges between collector Michael Johnson and Roger Epperson. They are eye-opening to say the least.  Sources indicate that RR has attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed several times via motions which have all been unsuccessful.

-The Baseball Hall of Fame and its President Jeff Idelson have still failed to respond to Hauls of Shame’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to the stolen 1909 Pirate photo that was pulled from the recent Huggins & Scott sale.

-Hauls of Shame would like to thank our loyal readers for their support as we are now averaging close to 250,000 page views and over 75,000 unique users per month.

This Babe Ruth photograph was not personalized to the recipient by the Bambino. The solo signature is a red-flag that has prompted experts to take a closer look at the item REA calls, "the finest" Ruth photo they have ever seen.

UPDATE (Oct. 17, 2014 11:20PM):  Another REA/JSA-Babe Ruth Autograph Questioned By Experts-Portrait Of A Problematic Bambino Portrait

REA is offering another questionable Babe Ruth autograph as Lot #729 and in its lot description states:

“This photo features one of the finest Babe Ruth signatures we have ever seen on a photo, with each flawless pen stroke contrasting magnificently against the light background. When JSA examined this photo, we were particularly fascinated that they were able to date the signature with some degree of confidence to circa 1943 (such a specific year), and that it appeared they were able to actually match the writing instrument (or at least the style of writing instrument) as well as the specific color of the ink Ruth used in signing this photo with other items signed by Ruth at approximately the very same time (by comparing this signature to others that were dated in their exemplar file).”

We would love to hear more about how JSA determined the date of the photo related to the writing instrument used and the ink color.  Several experts we consulted with thought the color of the ink was similar to the ink used on many of the “Gary Cooper-style” Ruth forgeries that first appeared in Mastro auctions.  While the auction house and JSA focus on the dating of the signature, they fail to inform bidders of other more important issues:

1. This Ruth portrait is said to have been produced in conjunction with the movie Pride of the Yankees in 1942 and in our exemplar file we found sixteen different examples (including the current REA offering) that have been offered at public auction since 1990. Of those sixteen examples, twelve were personalized with salutations to the recipient; two were signed “Sincerely”; and just two were signed “Babe Ruth.”

The Ruth portrait from the film "Pride of the Yankees" was usually inscribed and personalized by the Bambino. Above are (8) examples of the photo that have sold at auction and have been certified genuine by either JSA or PSA/DNA. The example from the current REA sale is highlighted in red.

2. Aside from determining the authenticity of all sixteen examples, it can be said that the two examples signed “Babe Ruth” without any inscription are suspicious to say the least.  And considering the existence of “Gary Cooper-style” forgeries on other photos signed in the same manner, the REA lot should face even greater scrutiny.

3. The REA signed photo exhibits considerable differences when compared to the other examples and appears much more uniform and “perfect.”  The experts we spoke with did not think the REA photo was signed by the “Gary Cooper-style” forger, but it does share similarities in letter construction, spacing, slant and pen pressure.

4.  REA includes an alleged unverifiable provenance story in the lot description that reminded us of the story accompanied by the multiple Ruth forgeries on photos which were pulled from REAs 2013 sale.

PSA/DNA and JSA authenticated and later rejected the top Ruth signature. The bottom signature appears in the current REA sale with a JSA letter of authenticity.

5. If you are perplexed with how the experts determine whether a Ruth is genuine or bogus, don’t feel embarrassed. The forgers are that good and it is sometimes difficult to identify their work.  As an example we leave prospective bidders on REAs lot 729 with the above Ruth signature comparison.  The signature at the bottom is the current REA lot and above it is another example that sold for $10,000 at a MastroNet sale c.2000. The top signature was authenticated by Jimmy Spence for PSA/DNA but when it was recently submitted to both companies they refused to write an LOA for their clients.  We agree with the TPAs opinion that the top signature is a forgery and, along with several non-TPA experts, we believe that the current Ruth signature featured in lot 729 is a forgery accompanied by a fraudulent LOA.

REA is selling this suitcase and claims it was once owned by Babe Ruth, but they have no provenance to support the claim outside of Barry Halper's former ownership of the bag.

UPDATE: (October 18, 2014) Is REA Selling Babe Ruth’s Suitcase Or Just A Big Bag Of Halper-Lifson Bullshit?

Another lot in the current REA sale with Barry Halper provenance (that has not yet received its opening bid) is what the auction house says is Babe Ruth’s suitcase.  REAs lot description says:

“The brown-leather suitcase, featuring twin handles and two locking clasps, was manufactured by Oshkosh Luggage and represents the larger of the two matching Babe Ruth suitcases that once resided in the fabled Barry Halper Collection. (Ruth was perhaps the single favorite area of collecting for Halper, whose collection also included Babe Ruth’s equipment bag, player contracts, 1927 World series ring, and many other significant and not-so-significant personal effects.) Those two bags first appeared at auction as Lot 84 in the 1999 Barry Halper Sale, where they realized $14,950.”

It is appropriate for Rob Lifson to refer to the Halper Collection as “fabled” because many of the alleged historic items Lifson and Halper sold at Sotheby’s in 1999 were accompanied by unsubstantiated and, in some cases, fraudulent fables.  This suitcase is one of them.  Halper claimed to have purchased suitcases and other items from Claire Ruth but there is no direct evidence whatsoever that he ever bought anything directly from Ruth’s widow.  It is also well documented that Halper lied about purchasing Ruth’s alleged 1927 World Series ring from his daughter Dorothy Ruth-Pirone. In fact, there is only one bag from the Halper Collection that appears to have an actual Halper provenance, and it is not the suitcase being sold by REA.  In an interview the late Bert Sugar for our upcoming book, Sugar revealed to this writer that the only bag he knew of which actually had Ruth family provenance was the equipment bag that was also sold at Sotheby’s. Sugar told us that Claire Ruth gave him the bag and one of Ruth’s old ashtrays when he was ghost-writing a magazine article with Mrs. Ruth in the 1970s. Sugar also said he traded the equipment bag to Halper for a large 1914 Miracle Braves display piece and also confirmed that when he had the bag it did not contain a card with Ruth’s autograph on it.

The late Bert Sugar said that he acquired Babe Ruth's equipment bag from Claire Ruth and later traded it to Barry Halper.

But when Halper appeared on Good Morning America with Charles Gibson before the Halper Auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 Sugar’s story transformed and he told the host that Bert Sugar retrieved the equipment bag out of a dumpster behind Mrs. Ruth’s apartment building.  Halper attached entirely fraudulent provenance stories to some items and also invented or expanded upon others with more fantastic or newsworthy information.  His Babe Ruth equipment bag story is a good example of the latter and when Bert Sugar was told of the GMA interview he laughed and said, “Really a dumpster?  Well, Barry was always making up stories and bullshitting.  He was a master at it.  I’ve embellished a few good ones over the years, too, but the Babe’s equipment bag came from his old apartment and Claire.  I’m smoking a cigar right now and using his ashtray she gave to me.  I held onto that.”

The current suitcase being offered by REA has the name “BABE RUTH” embossed in gold leaf and this identification does not exhibit “wear and tear” that is consistent with the rest of the suitcase.  The embossed name appears to have been added or at best re-embossed at a later date.  Considering all of the fraudulent provenance stories created by Halper and no evidence of a direct link to an acquisition from the Ruth family, it is hard to believe that REA could offer this bag as definitively being Ruth’s former property. Having not received an opening bid for $5,000, it appears that collectors are not buying the Halper-Lifson fables.

(If you have any hobby news or tips on auction fraud or stolen artifacts please drop us a line at: Tips@haulsofshame.com)


By Peter J. Nash

October 3, 2014

(Scroll to bottom for Update)

It is nothing new for an artifact stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame to turn up for sale in a Huggins & Scott auction as there have been a bunch of them sold by the Maryland auction house in the past few years. There have been rare 19th century season passes for the Boston BBC; letters sent to Hall officials by legends like Nap Lajoie and even documents from the famed August Herrmann Papers collection. The most recent entry of auction house contraband is the current Huggins & Scott lot consisting of a rare composite photo of Honus Wagner and the champion 1909 Pirates which they describe as: “…the lone example we have encountered.” It is likely the lone example because the photograph is believed to be unique and has evidence of its HOF accession number being scraped off the reverse of the cabinet mount and is the exact same photo that appeared in a Society For American Baseball Research (SABR) pictorial publication dedicated to the Dead-Ball Era in 1986 with a credit to the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown. It’s most definitely stolen and it is also New York State property that the Hall of Fame will likely never claim title to, just as they have failed to take action over the past decade with many other problematic offerings at H&S, Heritage, REA and Legendary Auctions.

What makes this artifact most remarkable, however, is that it had already been identified in 1994 as an item stolen from the Hall and was returned to the Cooperstown institution by this writer after I purchased it at a baseball card show in Westchester.  The photo originated from the late dealer and auctioneer, Don Flanagan, and after I purchased the image, I realized the exact same photo had been featured in SABR’s National Pastime-Dead-Ball Era Pictorial issue edited by John Thorn and Mark Rucker. Thorn and Rucker had photographed the original at the museum in 1985 and it is documented on the surviving contact sheets for that shoot which were the basis for all of the images included in the publication. The original SABR contact sheet is marked on its reverse, “H.O.F. B20.”

The 1909 Pirate photo being sold by Huggins & Scott was featured in the 1986 SABR Dead-Ball Era Pictorial (inset) with a credit to the National Baseball Library (top right).

At the same baseball card show I purchased another rare photograph that I also discovered had been stolen from the Hall, an 1897 Elmer Chickering cabinet photo of the Boston Beaneaters and the Royal Rooters including super-fan “Nuf Ced” McGreevy and Congressman John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald posing on the steps of the Eutaw Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.  That photo also showed visible evidence of the Hall of Fame library accession number being removed and defaced on the reverse but more importantly I noticed that the exact same photo with the same creases and damage appeared enlarged as an approximately ten foot by twelve foot image posted on the wall in the Hall of Fame’s 19th century exhibition room.  I purchased the photo from New York dealer Ron Vitro who currently works as a consignment agent for Huggins & Scott.  I reported my acquisition of both stolen photographs to then Hall of Fame librarian Tom Heitz and returned both photos to the museum along with the contact information of the sellers.

The Huggins & Scott auction lot shows the removal of the HOF accession number on its reverse (left). The exact same cabinet photo appears on SABR contact sheets as HOF property via a 1985 photo shoot (right).

Since 2010, the Hall’s 1909 Pirate composite photo has appeared along with the 1897 Boston photo on the Hauls of Shame website’s “Recovered Artifacts” section, however, it turns out that the same Pirate photo had already left the Hall of Fame’s possession and was previously offered and sold by Huggins & Scott in a 2007 auction where it realized a price of $3,000.  The images of the photo in the 1986 SABR pictorial publication, the 2007 Huggins & Scott sale and the current auction all share unique imperfections on the photographs which are identical.  The most pronounced identical damage on each image from 1986 to 2014 is located below the portrait of Honus Wagner at the center of the lower portion of the mounted photo.

Images of the 1909 Pirate photo (l. to r.) in 1986, 2007 and 2014 all show the exact same surface damage (in red) on the silver gelatin print stolen from the NBL.

Interestingly enough, images of the reverse of the photo from the 2007 and 2014 sales reveals that additional notations were added to the mount since it was returned to the Hall including the year “1909″ and the phrase, “We know not without you Honus.” Huggins & Scott makes no mention of the writing added to the reverse of the cabinet in its current lot description and they also fail to note that the “Fred C. Clarke” inscription appears to be written in Clarke’s own hand.  Evidence suggests that the 1909 photograph was actually donated to the Hall of Fame by the Hall of Famer, himself, along with a treasure trove of other items and ephemera.  The consignor of the 1909 Pirate photo, Michael Calvello, has also consigned several other fraudulently misrepresented photos to the current H&S auction which he claimed were of Hall of Famer Amos Rusie, Moses Fleetwood Walker and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson based solely on handwritten information fraudulently added to the reverse of each item.

An image of the back of the stolen 1909 Pirate photo as it appeared in the 2007 H&S auction. The current offering shows "1909" and "We know not without you Honus" notations (outlined in red) that were added post-2007. The evidence of the defaced HOF accession number and Fred Clarke's signature are clearly visible on both offerings.

Hauls of Shame contacted former Hall of Fame head librarian, Tom Heitz in Fly Creek, New York, and, while he declined comment on the appearance of the 1909 photo in the current Huggins & Scott sale, he did confirm that two photographs were returned to him at the National Baseball Library in December of 1994.  Heitz could not recall the exact images returned but did recall that upon the return of the items to the library he drafted and sent a memo to then Hall of Fame Vice President Frank Simio.  Heitz’ twelve-year tenure at the Hall of Fame ended just a week after the stolen photos were returned to the library.  Since Heitz left the Hall of Fame in 1995 he has been active in the baseball research community and in 2014 was honored by the Society For American Baseball Research with its Henry Chadwick Award.

Tom Heitz (left) served as the HOFs head librarian for 12 years and in 1994 accepted the return of the 1909 Pirate photo in the current Huggins & Scott sale and an 1897 Chickering photo of the Boston BBC in Baltimore. The reverse of the photo sold by Huggins & Scott rep Ron Vitro (inset) shows the defacement of the HOF library accession numbers.

Hauls of Shame also contacted Baseball Hall of Fame President, Jeff Idelson, asking for an explanation as to how a stolen item that was actually returned to the institution is now being sold by an auction house for the second time?  This writer also sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter request to Idelson last Friday which read:

“I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that pertain to the return of New York State Property (a c.1909 silver gelatin photograph of the Pittsburgh Pirate team) to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in December of 1994.  I am requesting any and all documents related to: the photograph’s original donation to the Museum and all accession records for the donations of Fred C. Clarke; all documents and correspondence between Tom Heitz, Frank Simio, Donald Marr, James Gates or any other Museum employee regarding the return of New York State property to Tom Heitz by Peter Nash in 1994; all correspondence of documents related to baseball dealers Ron Vitro and Donald Flanagan; all documents related to the additional return of New York State Property (an 1897 Elmer Chickering photo of the Boston BBC), and any and all documentation regarding the 1909 Pirate photograph being disposed of to any entity or person not affiliated with the Museum or New York State.”

Idelson and the Hall of Fame have yet to respond to the request which FOIA guidelines state should be answered within five days.  All of the information sent to Hall of Fame officials was also forwarded to the Cooperstown Police Department and Chief Michael Covert last Friday.

Auctioneer Bill Huggins (center) has been selling New York State property and Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson (right) has failed to pursue recovery or claim title to stolen artifacts.

Huggins & Scott representatives Josh Wulkan and Bill Huggins refused to respond to our inquiry about the photo and who consigned it to the auction back in 2007.  Dealer and current H&S consignment rep Ron Vitro confirmed for Hauls of Shame that the 1897 Boston photo he sold in 1994 was, in fact, returned to the Hall of Fame.

We also contacted Michael Calvello, the consignor of the pirated Pittsburgh photograph and the bogus Joe Jackson WWI panoramic photo that was already withdrawn from the same sale on account of its being an outright fraud. Calvello told us, “The markings were on the (Pirate) photo when I purchased it in July of 2014.” Calvello also said that someone went to the Cooperstown Police on his behalf and was told that  ”as of yesterday (Sept. 30) there was never a police report filed back in the 1980’s, 1990, 2000, 2010 (or) 2014.”

A call on Wednesday to the Cooperstown Police Department by Hauls of Shame revealed that Chief Michael Covert has been out of the station and will return to his office next week.

The current eBay listing of a 1916 letter believed stolen from the HOF includes information about its previous offering at REA and the HOFs failure to claim title to it.

In the past few years, several letters and documents believed to have been stolen from the Hall of Fame’s August Herrmann Papers Collection have appeared in auctions conducted by Heritage, Legendary, Huggins & Scott and REA.  Some of them were removed from the sales but recently Heritage and Huggins and Scott have proceeded with auctioning off the stolen and suspected stolen items because the Hall of Fame has failed to claim title to the items.  One of those documents, a 1916 protested game letter from George Stallings to NL President John Tener, was previously withdrawn from an REA sale but has resurfaced on eBay with an interesting note from a California seller called “filmdom” who was also the REA consignor.  Although he has no provenance information whatsoever for the letter he is offering, the eBay seller discusses the prior removal from REA and says:

“The Baseball Hall of Fame objected to its sale, claiming they believed the letter was once in their protested games file. This is based on circumstantial evidence, as there is insignificant information. Meaning, that the HOF has items in their file surrounding the date of this letter, hence, the assumption that it was stolen from them. Again, there is no photographic evidence or otherwise, but based on assumption. I was a somewhat new collector in buying vintage items back in 1993. I just felt great having a part of baseball history.”

The eBay seller also claims to have additional information related to the Hall of Fame stating:

“The HOF didn’t ask that this letter be returned to them, though I’m sure they would like having it. There is no way of positively knowing its link. It would be subjective to know what Tener (or predecessors of) did to all the documents once in his/their possession, as this one in question could have been sent to an umpire, executive or even a collector. In review: I must state mentioned so that the potential buyer understands this letter can be resold to a dealer or collector, but not necessarily to a big name auction house, unless the HOF gives their permission. I do not know if the HOF has changed their stance since three years ago.”

The seller ended the sale yesterday and the eBay site says it is no longer available.

Hauls of Shame will post updates on the Hall of Fame responses to our FOIA request as soon as we receive answers from the office of President Jeff Idelson.

Jane Forbes Clark was recently profiled on CBS News (left); Huggins & Scott has removed the 1909 photo stolen from the HOF (center); HOF President Jeff Idelson has refused to honor a FOIA request (right)

UPDATE (Oct. 9, 2014): Huggins & Scott Removes Photo Stolen From Hall of Fame While Cooperstown Police Investigate; Museum Officials & President Jeff Idelson Fail To Respond To Freedom Of Information Act Request

Huggins & Scott Auctions removed the stolen 1909 Pittsburgh Pirate photograph from its current sale while the Cooperstown Police Department investigates the details of the crime that was committed sometime between 1986 and 1994.   The exact same 1909 image was photographed at the Baseball Hall of Fame in the National Baseball Library in 1985 and appeared with a credit in a 1986 SABR publication with an ownership credit to the NBL. The consignor of the stolen photograph, Michael Calvello, did not end the auction himself to pursue a reimbursement of the $3,500 from the individual he bought the tainted artifact from this past July.

A source familiar with Hall of Fame operations is not surprised with the Hall of Fame’s failure to respond to Hauls of Shame’s FOIA request for documents related to the donation and theft of the 1909 Pittsburgh photograph which appears to have been donated by Hall of Famer Fred C. Clarke.  The source told us, “Jeff Idelson is not pulling any strings over at the Hall, it is all Jane Clark’s operation.  The buck stops with her. She thinks she is above the law and can get away with her cover-ups of these thefts.  She thinks she is untouchable.”

Jane Forbes Clark is the Chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the sole heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune.  She is considered one of the wealthiest women in the world and hails from the family that founded the Hall of Fame in the mid-1930s.  Her late grandfather, Stephen Carlton Clark, was recently in the news regarding other stolen artifacts in a lawsuit alleging that he knowingly purchased (from the now defunct Knoedler Galleries) a Van Gogh painting, The Night Cafe, that had been stolen from a Russian family during the Bolshevik Revolution.  Clark had bequeathed the painting, valued at close to $150 million, to Yale University which was sued by a relative of the Russian family trying to recover the plundered masterpiece.  A Federal Judge in Connecticut recently ruled that Yale could keep the painting that was wrongfully seized from the Russian family.

The Clark family and the Hall of Fame do not own any of the artifacts housed in its museum and library collections as all donated materials are the property of New York State.  The removal of the stolen 1909 Pirate photograph from the Huggins & Scott sale was not initiated by the Hall of Fame which has failed to pursue recovery of stolen items in accordance with state law.