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By Peter J. Nash

Dec.  30, 2011

2011 was a bad year for the "Barry Halper Collection".

 

The investigative reports published by Haulsofshame.com in 2011 exposed the deceased legendary baseball collector and New York Yankees minority owner Barry Halper as a fraudster who duped scores of collectors, auction houses (including Sotheby’s), Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame by selling both counterfeit and stolen artifacts.  Halper ended up pocketing millions and, despite his deceptions, was even immortalized in Cooperstown with a Hall of Fame wing named in his honor.

From 1999 through 2011, the “Barry Halper Gallery” was located on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s first level exhibition floor plan, but as the troubling reports about the Halper Collection circulated everywhere from the New York Post to Deadspin this past Summer, the space once dedicated to Halper was no longer identified on Hall of Fame brochures and its dedication plaque was no longer visible to museum visitors. 

As a result of the investigations focused on the Halper Collection it has been established that the majority of his early vintage uniforms, including everything from John J. McGraw’s 1905 World Series uniform to Mickey Mantle’s 1951 rookie jersey, were forgeries.  In addition, signature items that helped cultivate his reputation as the ultimate collector have similarly been tarnished.  The Babe Ruth signature on his famous 500 Home Run Club sheet, the one that he said he got from Ruth in person in 1948, was a fake too.  Halper said he also added the autograph of his coach, Jimmy Foxx, to that same sheet when  he was a pitcher for the University of Miami baseball team.  But Halper never made the U of M team and Foxx wasn’t even the coach during the years Halper attended the school.     

The first-baseman’s mitt Halper sold at Sotheby’s as Lou Gehrig’s “last glove,” for close to $400,000, was fraudulently misrepresented as well.  Gehrig’s authentic last glove was donated to the Hall of Fame by his mother and has been on display in Cooperstown for decades.  Equally disturbing are the revelations that rare documents Halper sold at Sotheby’s, addressed to Hall of Famer Harry Wright and Cincinnati Reds owner August Herrmann, were stolen from the collections of the New York Public Library and the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The list goes on and on.  Even the self-promoting profiles of Halper and his collection published in Smithsonian Magazine, Sports Illustrated and the New York Times are littered with forgeries and fraudulent items once held out as genuine to the general public.

Here are the reports published in 2011 that helped to expose the once revered Halper Collection (click on titles):

1. Damned Yankee: Was Steinbrenner’s Partner the “Madoff of Memorabilia”?  -HOS, July 6, 2011

2. TREASURE TROVE IS BASEBALL\’S HISTORY IN THE FAKING; RULED FOUL: SHOCK AS TOP COLLECTOR IS REVEALED AS SCAMMER-ABILIA KING-New York Post, July 24, 2011 (Click here for NY POST Halper 1) (Click here for NY POST Halper 2)

3. The Downfall Of Barry Halper, Baseball Collecting’s Bernie Madoff - Deadspin, July 6, 2011

4. The Messy History of Charlie Sheen’s “Winning Ring”Deadspin, March 4, 2011

(Top) Ruth signature from alleged letter authenticating his own hair. (Middle) Ruth signature from alleged envelope with typed authentication of his hair. (Bottom) Allleged Ruth signature that Halper said he got in person 1948 from his 500 HR Club Sheet. Expert Ron Keurajian believes all three signatures are forgeries and signed by the same forger.

5. Halper’s Famous 500 HR Club Sheet Has Fake Babe Ruth Autograph;His Tall-Tales of Bambino and Jimmie Foxx Exposed - HOS,  Feb. 9, 2011

6. JSA & REA Cost Collector $38k on Babe Ruth Forgeries and Bogus Bambino Hair; Sony Exec Spent $57k on 500 HR Club Fake; Was Barry Halper the Forger? - HOS, Sept. 29, 2011

7. The Halper “HOT 100”: The Top 100 Stolen Baseball Memorabilia Items Once Owned By Collector Barry Halper.- HOS, January 18, 2011

(L to R) Numbers 8, 58 and 59 from the "Halper Hot 100" list. All three rare documents are "Challenge Letters" sent either to or from the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. All three letters were stolen from the NYPL Spalding Collections' Knick Correspondence Scrapbooks. The letter to the far right, is an 1856 "Challenge Letter" that is still found at the lirary. Barry Halper sold the 1859 letter to the left at Sotheby's in 1999 and once owned the other two examples sold later at other auctions.

8. Betting on the Gehrig’s: Expert’s Report Shows Lou Gehrig’s “Last Glove” was Donated to Cooperstown; Halper’s $387,500 “Last Glove” a Fraud - HOS Staff Report, May 31, 2011

9, Yogi Wearing a Bogus “Mugsy McGraw”; Another Halper Jersey from Sotheby’s Bites the Dust -HOS, January 10, 2011

10. Before the Sox Were Red: Sotheby’s Sold Fake Red Sox Jersey to Boston Collector for $26k - HOS, Feb. 28, 2011

11. Risky Business - HOS, by Dave Grob, March 11, 2011

12. More Letters Suspected Stolen from Hall of Fame Offered by REA and on EBAY; REA’s Bill Klem Letter on “Halper Hot 100 List” - HOS, April 19, 2011

This gallery of problematic artifacts from the Halper Collection was published in the New York Post on July 24, 2011.

13. Penny Marshall Denies Daily News Report She Paid $387,500 for Lou Gehrig’s Alleged “Last Glove”; Who’s the “Unluckiest Collector on the Face of the Earth?” - HOS, June 16, 2011

14. Hauls of Shame Releases FBI Report on Fake Ty Cobb Diary; Halper Kin Say Hall of Fame has not Pursued Million-Dollar Recovery from NY Yankee Partner - HOS, July 1, 2011

15. Chin Music: Halper Gallery Vanishes from the Baseball Hall of Fame; Hauls of Shame Responds to False Claims Made by Halper’s Son and Baseball Digest - HOS, July 28, 2011

16. Cy Young’s Red Sox Uniform on Auction Block; Is Hall of Fame’s 1908 Young Jersey Another Halper Fake? - HOS, Aug. 2, 2011

This dedication plaque used to hang in the "Barry Halper Gallery" on the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's first floor. The exhibition space and plaque dedicated to Halper in 1999 appear to have been removed. Hall officials have declined comment.

 

7 Comments

  1. Great reporting, Peter! Halper was a total fraud. Now let’s see if the likes of Madden and O’Keeffe, who were in bed with him, will admit it.

    Comment by Al Young — December 30, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  2. There is no doubt about it,BARRY HALPER WAS THE BIGGEST THIEF GOING,his actions and trail,make the Prohibition Days look like childs play.It is a damn shame, that so many people were screwed out of so much $, for worthless junk and they cant do a damn thing about it, cause he is where he belongs,IN HELL.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — December 30, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  3. After all that has been proven aganist him,if Jeff Idelson had any balls, he would remove the piece of crap,phoney plaque out of the HOF and take the Bonds steriod ball with it.Both are no examples for the young folks of today,to be looking at.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — December 30, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  4. I’ve seen the Halper Hot 100. Is this the Halper “Sweet Sixteen”?

    Comment by Harry — December 30, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  5. nice year in review, however, you should call it the Halper Year in review, because you have many other noteworthy achievements during the last year as regular readers would know, great job

    Merry new year!

    speaking of new year, 2012 is the year the scammer james spence and his fraud gang at JSA go down, js

    Comment by Joseph — December 30, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  6. How Halper could look into the camera and say his college coach was J. Foxx when Halper didnt even make the team and Foxx wasnt even there when he went to school, shows he was capable of anything.

    Comment by Travis Roste — December 30, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  7. So happy a good chunk of Halper’s items are being found out stolen and fake. I just hope the people who bought anything can get their money back.

    Comment by Chris — December 30, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

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