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By Peter J. Nash

April 28, 2013

REA uses Babe Ruth's likeness in advertisements to solicit materials for auctions.

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As Bill Mastro prepares for his next court appearance, perplexed that Federal Judge Ronald A. Guzman has tossed his guilty plea agreement with the government two times already, his ex-partner and the alleged government informant who dropped dime on him, Rob Lifson, is still operating his auction business, Robert Edward Auctions, and continuing his sales of fraudulent and counterfeit items, one of which is an item Mastro once owned and quite possibly shill bid back when he and Lifson were buddies and business partners.

Lot 931 in the current REA auction is described as an incredible autographed photograph allegedly presented to Pride of the Yankees star Gary Cooper by Babe Ruth.  Ruth allegedly inscribed the photo, “A pleasure working with you.”  The photograph was previously offered by Mastro Fine Sports Auctions back in 1999 but was sold again in December of 2010 at Legendary Auctions as part of the Bill Mastro Collection auction for $15,600. Legendary described the photo as “among the finest and most important association pieces on which the Bambino ever put pen to paper.” Next month REA will auction the photo it describes as “one of finest Babe Ruth signed photos we have ever seen and we cannot imagine a more significant Ruth-signed Pride of the Yankees piece.” The photo is authenticated by both PSA/DNA and JSA but Lifson fails to mention the photograph’s “Mastro provenance.”  PSA and Steve Grad say they even graded the photo “Mint-9.”  The earliest LOA linked to the photo was written in February of 1999 by Mike Gutierrez who stated, “I believe that Babe Ruth signed this in his handwriting.  The signature matches that in my file.”

But there’s a very big problem with this too-good-to-be-true Lifson-REA offering: It features a bogus autograph and inscription of the Babe considered by several experts a well-executed forgery created by a forger with a distinctive style that has been appearing in sales and auctions since the 1990s.

The current high-bidder on the item at $8,000, however, reached out to Haulsofshame.com after recently learning about an article published on this site in 2010.  Said collector, Ralph Gary Brauner, “After bidding $8,000 on the above item in the ongoing REA 2013 auction, I found an article saying it is a fraud.  It has 3 COA’s.  They will not remove my bid.  Can you help me?”

REA is offering this photo that was formerly auctioned and owned by former Memorabilia King Bill Mastro. Expert Ron Keurajian believes it is a well-executed forgery.

The photograph the REA bidder is concerned with was featured in a Haulsofshame.com report in 2010 which chronicled the many questionable Ruth signed items that authenticated by Jimmy Spence. In that report, author and expert Ron Keurajian said of the alleged Cooper photo, “In my opinion, its a well executed forgery.”

What’s more, Keurajian specifically referenced this same photograph and the forger in his recently published autograph handbook, Baseball Hall of Fame Autographs: A Reference Guide, stating:

“One forger has created some very convincing forgeries with baseballs and 8 x 10 photographs his favorite target. The famous image of Ruth swinging and facing directly into the camera is one of his favorites. He signs the forgery “Sincerely, Babe Ruth” across his chest. He has Ruth’s hand allmost down to the fine points. Letter construction is very good but unlike a true master forger, he does not have the right speed. The forgeries are clean but methodic. The hand does not evidence a shakiness nor does it have the fast bouncy feel of a genuine Ruth. The lines are uniform and lack variant pressure. He has gone as far as to create a forged 8 x 10 photo inscribed to movie star Gary Cooper. Overall, these forgeries are very nice but they look too perfect.”

(Left) Close up of the detail of the forger's work, creating a bogus inscription to Gary Cooper. Keurajian's book points out the slow and methodical style of the forger and the fact that his creation is just "too beautiful" to be a genuine Ruth. (Right) An authentic Ruth inscription c. 1934 shows the true fluidity and bounce of Ruth's signature as described by Ron Keurajian in his book.

Perhaps the greatest irony of REA’s inclusion of this blatant forgery in its current sale is the fact that REA president Rob Lifson was featured in a Q&A section in Keurajian’s book where he gave advice for collectors on how to obtain authentic autographed items.  As for Ruth signatures, Lifson said:

“If a Babe Ruth autograph is of interest and it looks good to your eye, but an authenticator whose knowledge you respect regarding Babe Ruth signatures is not comfortable writing a letter on it (or even worse, states that he believes it is a forgery) that should be of great concern.”

Apparently this wasn’t a great concern for Lifson when he accepted the forged Ruth photo as a consignment knowing full-well that expert Keurajian had already deemed it a forgery.

Incredibly, these same style forgeries have already even been identified by authenticator PSA/DNA who included a similar Ruth forgery in a 2012 report illustrating what to look for to avoid buying a fake.  That forgery, usually signed “To John” was also found created in the form of a laser-printed forgery which featured what appears to be an original handwritten forgery of the “Gary Cooper” forger.  While on one hand PSA appears to admit being duped by this particular forgery, on the other they have not been forthright in reversing their opinions on LOA’s already issued for other forgeries.

The Babe Ruth forgery authenticated by Spence and Grad for Mastro (left) was executed by the same hand of the forger who created the "To John" Ruth laser-printed forgeries (right) that hit the market in 2000. John Rogers posted warnings for collectors in SCD (inset, bottom right).

The laser-printer scam was uncovered back in 2001 by Ruth collector John Rogers of North Little Rock, Arkansas.  Other similar forgeries infiltrated the market and appeared previously in Mastro auctions and were authenticated by both Steve Grad and James Spence.

PSA/DNA was still using this Ruth forgery in their print advertisements as late as 2005, evidenced by this ad from SCD in April of 2005.

The same style of forgery was even featured and utilized in PSA/DNA print advertisements placed in Sports Collectors Digest and other hobby publications.  Third-Party authentication companies like PSA/DNA and JSA were first developed as the brainchild of Bill Mastro in the late 1990s and perfected by 2001 when Mastro joined forces with Lifson to form hobby auction behemoth MastroNet.com.

Mastro devised a business model that absolved auction houses of virtually all liabilities related to fakes and frauds he sold as long as they had a “Letter of Authenticity” (LOA) from his preferred authenticator.  The “third-party authenticator” then crafted its own LOA incorporating language that protected itself from any liability, just like the auction house.  The collusion between the two companies MastroNet and PSA/DNA (and later also adding JSA to that scheme) sufficiently shielded both entities from liability and granted the authenticators the power to turn worthless forgeries into expensive treasures, simply by writing a fancy letter.  In a nutshell, Mastro and Lifson came up with a successful scheme to tell their customers:  ”All Sales Final- No Returns.”

The current offering of the bogus Babe Ruth photo to Gary Cooper illustrates this perfectly as Rob Lifson and REA, who have full knowledge that experts have reported and deemed the item a forgery, feel they can justify its sale and the collection of their auction commission simply because the third party authenticators have issued a fraudulent LOA.  Solidifying this point is a long-winded disclaimer printed in REA’s current catalog which basically states Lifson has no responsibility whatsoever if the autographs he sells are fakes.

Bill Mastro (left) created the system by which auctioneers like his old partner Rob Lifson (center) can knowingly ofer bogus materials to the general public like the forged Babe Ruth photo to Gary Cooper (right) with virtually no recourse for buyers.

One collector told us, “All Lifson is doing is playing a game created by him and Mastro.  Play dumb and blame the authenticator who has no real liability and says he’s only offering an opinion.  He plays Mickey the Dunce while he’s fleecing customers.  He knows exactly what he’s doing.  He’s lucky he ratted out Mastro to save his own skin I guess.”

Lifson has a long history of selling Ruth fakes dating back to his close association with former Yankee partner and collector Barry Halper.  Halper hand-picked Lifson as the special consultant for the 1999 liquidation of his collection at Sotheby’s and Lifson handled and wrote the description for one of the most infamous Ruth fakes of all-time featured on what Halper bragged was his “500 Home Run Club Sheet” which allegedly featured Ruth’s signature along with every player who also hit 500 or more homers in their career.  In a 1989 interview with Ruth biographer Robert Creamer for a Smithsonian Magazine cover story Halper said he first got the sheet from his father with Ruth’s signature already on it.  Halper did not tell Creamer he had ever met Ruth in person.

Halper's Ruth signature on his famous 500 HR Club sheet was a forgery and starkly contrasts authentic examples of the Bambino's signature.

However, by 1999, Halper and Lifson wrote up the sheet’s Sotheby’s description and claimed that Halper obtained Ruth’s signature in person at Babe Ruth Day in 1948.  Experts agree that the Ruth signature is a poorly executed forgery and several sources believe that Halper himself was the forger.  Lifson and Halper sold the sheet to SONY Music Publishing CEO Martin Bandier at the Sotheby’s sale for over $55,000, despite the fact that many hobby insiders questioned the authenticity of the alleged Ruth scrawl.

Gary Cooper’s daughter, Maria Cooper Janis, heads the Gary Cooper Endowed Fund For Students and has also established the Cooper Collection at the University of Southern California School of Cinema, an archive of memorabilia and films related to the Hollywood legend.  The spokesperson at Cooper’s foundation, Bettina L. Klinger, confirmed to Haulsofshame.com that the Cooper collection is maintained by Mrs. Cooper-Janis and that it has never been the practice of the family to let go of or sell memorabilia or artifacts from Cooper’s acting career.

The forged Ruth-Gary Cooper photo appeared in a 1999 Mastro Fine Sports sale as lot 833 and sold for over $22,000. Mastro offered no provenance information on the photo.

We sent Cooper’s daughter a scan of the photo being offered by REA and she is currently checking the collection for any similar items.

UPDATE: Gary Cooper’s daughter, Maria Cooper-Janis, responded to our inquiry and said, “I, of course, have seen that photograph in our family archives, (and) have several shots of Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth at some moment, but none of them are autographed and the picture you refer to was never in our possession.”

Collector John Rogers recalls the photograph surfacing at a National Convention in the mid-1990s as part of several “too-good-to-be-true” offerings of signed materials ranging from Ruth to Walt Disney.  Rogers told us, “I remember at the time someone warning me to stay away from this guy’s stuff, including the Cooper photo.”  It’s not clear how the photograph made its way into the Mastro auction.

Back in 1998 a similar Ruth signature appeared in a Mastro auction on a c. 1928 OAL Barnard baseball.  Several experts we consulted with agreed that the signature appears to be a forgery and shares several characteristics with the forged Ruth signature on the Gary Cooper photo.  The Mastro catalog description stated, “This one should inspire PSA to branch out and grade autographed balls, it would be a 10.”  While the experts we spoke with would not go as far as saying the two forgeries were executed by the same hand it is clear that the PSA-Mastro connection kick-started the PSA/DNA autograph division and as they did with baseball cards and the infamous trimmed T-206 Wagner, likely founded the enterprise by authenticating Ruth fakes at its inception.

This single signed ball sold by Bill Mastro in 1998 appears to have been created by the same forger who crafted the Ruth photo inscribed to Gary Cooper.

The forged Babe Ruth signature on the Gary Cooper photo (bottom left) shares similarities with another alleged Ruth forgery executed on a baseball sold by Mastro Fine Sports in 1998 (right). The lot description staes that the ball "should inspire PSA to branch out and grade autographed balls."

In addition to the problematic Ruth photo alleged to have been presented to Gary Cooper, Lifson and REA include another group of highly questionable Babe Ruth signed photographs in its current sale.  The group of signed photos is described by REA as:

“eleven extraordinary signed photos (six Babe Ruth, three Ty Cobb, one Honus Wagner, and one Joe Cronin) that for over thirty years have been in the possession of our consignor’s family. All of the photos appear in this auction and each shares the same unique provenance. Our consignor’s mother was a state-employed healthcare worker in Maine, where she provided “in home” care to elderly residents. During the early 1980s one of her patients was a former Boston-area sports photographer. He had no wife or children and in his declining health he began giving her some of his possessions, as thanks for her kindness. One of the last gifts he presented her with was a stack of signed photos that he had accumulated during his career. He had told her that they were the only things of value he had left and he wanted her to have them. She graciously accepted them and then simply put them away in a drawer, where they remained until her son recently found them while helping her clean out the house.

REA's questionable offering of a cache of alleged Babe Ruth signed photographs is attributed to a Boston photographer but the auction house offers no solid provenance information.

The lot description reveals little about the true provenance of the photographs, only an unsubstantiated story that many times accompanies forged material.

A close inspection of the alleged Ruth signatures, however, reveals an assortment of red flags as to the genuineness of the handwriting.  None of the photographs are inscribed or personalized and all appear on unusual second generation photos.  Most importantly, over a dozen hobbyists and experts we respect agreed with us that every one of the Ruth signatures appears to be a forgery.  One even relpied, “Ugh.”

Incredibly, one of the photographs is even signed “George H. Babe Ruth.”  Every expert, dealer and collector we spoke with said they have never seen a photo signed that way, let alone without an inscription or personalization.  In our voluminous exemplar files we could only find several instances of Ruth signing “George H. Herman Ruth” on documents and contracts and “George H. Babe Ruth” on 1935 All-America Board of Baseball certificates.  REA doesn’t even mention the unusual nature of this ultra-rare version of Ruth’s signature.

In addition to REA offering the Ruth-Cooper photo for sale knowing full well that experts had deemed it a fake, the auction house’s inclusion of the dubious Ruth 8 x 10s from a mysterious Boston sportswriter highlights the fact that Jimmy Spence at JSA and Steve Grad at PSA/DNA do not know Babe Ruth’s signature or handwriting.  Considering the high volume of Ruth authentications these companies have turned out to auction houses like REA and Heritage, collectors should be on guard and not content that the Ruth in their collection is authentic.  Says one of the most prominent collectors in the country, “Just because you have a fancy letter with fancy signatures and stickers or a plastic slab that doesn’t mean you have something that is real.  Isn’t that what this hobby is supposed to be all about?”

Halfway through our independent “Operation Bambino” investigation we believe we are close to blowing the lid off the network of Ruth forgers and the massive work product they have been introducing into the marketplace for decades.  (These forgeries are far superior and dwarf the scope of the FBI’s previous “Operation Bullpen”).  Based upon the evidence uncovered by Hauls of Shame to date we have made this preliminary conclusion:  If you own an autographed Babe Ruth item with an LOA from either JSA or PSA/DNA you should be scared, very scared.  The likelihood it is authentic could be a 50/50 proposition.

Collectors are gullible and dealers and auctioneers like Rob Lifson and REA are quick to post disclaimers stating they are not autograph experts and that:  ”The bottom line is that neither REA nor any other auction house or any dealer or any collector can truly “guarantee” that a given autograph is authentic. It can even be difficult to prove with certainty that an autograph is not authentic.”

The bottom line, however, is this:  If a dealer or an auction house hides behind the philosophy of a Bill Mastro or a Rob Lifson they shouldn’t be selling autographs and collecting commissions.  If they don’t stand behind what they are selling and look the other way when the 3rd party authenticators they rely upon are exposed as inept and quite possibly committing fraud, why do uninformed collectors keep coming back for more?

A perfect example of the gullible nature of collectors and dealers is a recent offering by Huggins & Scott of a Babe Ruth signature on an alleged ticket from his 700 HR game in Detroit.  The alleged Ruth ticket sold for $12,000.

The alleged Ruth signature on the 700 HR-Game ticket shows an unusual formation of the letter "a" in Babe. It appears to have been written backwards in the wrong direction than the Babe would actually sign his name. In addition, the very short and abrupt crossing of the "t" and the arrow-like formation ending on the "h" are highly uncharacteristic of a genuine Ruth and further suggest forgery.

Experts we spoke with quickly dismissed the Ruth signature as a forgery pointing to the signature itself as not having the look and feel of Ruth’s genuine handwriting.  In fact, as examined by the naked eye and also under high magnification it is visible that the letter “a” in “Babe” was written backwards, a clear mistake of the forger and a tell-tale sign of a Bambino fake.  The signature also exhibits highly unusual and uncharacteristic ink distribution throughout the signature, especially in the “a” in “Babe.”  In addition, the short and abrupt crossing of the “t” and the unusual formation created at the very end of the signatures “h” also highly suggest forgery.

Hauls of Shame voiced concerns about the Ruth ticket to Huggins & Scott via Twitter on April 6 and again via email to Huggins VP Josh Wulken on April 10.  When informed that we had spoken with an expert and well-known author who had indicated that he could not authenticate the Ruth ticket Wulken responded, “I have no idea who that is and everybody has opinions.  We are selling the opinions of those who authenticated it.”  Jimmy Spence and JSA authenticated the ticket and in the past have issued LOA’s for several high ticket Christy Mathewson signed baseball’s that are considered by several experts to be forgeries.  Huggins & Scott say they stand 100% behind Spence.

One prominent collector told us, “When collectors ignore the evidence and the opinions of true experts they set themselves up for disaster.  Sad to say, but most of them get what they deserve and their collections are filled with fakes.”

Babe Ruth’s own granddaughter, Linda Ruth-Tosetti, endorsed “Operation Bambino” at its inception back in 2010 and is even more concerned now with the proliferation of Ruth fakes in the marketplace.  In regard to the current offering at REA Ruth-Tosetti told us, “This is really getting out of hand.  The collectors better start doing homework on what they are buying!  Just because a “so called” expert says it is real does not make it so.  Maybe only in the mind of the sucker who buys one of these forgeries.”

When asked what she thinks the solution might be to the problem Ruth -Tosetti added,  ”The authorities should get on these “experts” along with the auction houses.  What are their credentials?  How do they come to a conclusion that the autograph is real?
What I have seen was deemed fake once already.  Are they thinking, that it is forgotten, so lets run the fakes again?  When is this insanity and greed  going to stop?”

Sources indicate that the FBI is aware of the REA Ruth offerings and are investigating the sales of the questioned items.

UPDATE (April 29): The highly questionable Babe Ruth signed photographs, which several experts have deemed forgeries, have been withdrawn from the current REA auction.  The auction house posted this language on each lot description:

LOT WITHDRAWN (along with lot #’s 861, 862, 881, 917, 929, 975, 977, 983, 984): This lot has been withdrawn at the request of our consignor due to REA’s efforts to provide additional information regarding provenance being excessive (which they may have been). We are honoring the consignor’s request and apologize for any inconvenience to the consignor and to bidders.”

UPDATE (May 1):  Experts Uncover More Ruth Fakes in Heritage and REA Auctions; Feds Building Cases Against PSA, Joe Orlando, Steve Grad, Jimmy Spence and Auctioneers

REA and Rob Lifson just withdrew ten autographed lots that Haulsofshame.com and other experts called out as fakes and the auctioneer’s disingenuous explanation that the withdrawal was at the request of its consignor is being widely ridiculed by collectors and dealers throughout the hobby.  REA, however, has not removed the alleged photo signed by Babe Ruth to Gary Cooper despite expert Ron Keurajian calling it a fake and Gary Cooper’s own daughter confirming that the photo was never in the possession of her family or the “Cooper Collection” the family archive she curates.  Sources indicate that Lifson does not believe that Cooper’s daughter Maria Cooper-Janis confirmed this information for Haulsofshame.com.

Experts say the three Babe Ruth signed Goudey's being offered by HA (top row) are poorly executed forgeries as is the one being sold by REA (bottom left). A forgery sold at Coaches Corner (bottom right) appears to be a better forgery than the others being offered by the major auctioneers.

In addition, more questioned Ruth items have been presented to Haulsofshame.com for examination and it has been determined that REA and Heritage Auction Galleries are offering for sale what experts are calling four bogus Babe Ruth signed 1933 Goudey baseball cards.  The cards currently have bids ranging from $8,500 to $25,000 but are all poorly executed forgeries.  In fact, a forgery sold previously by Coaches Corner on a ‘33 Goudey is actually more well-executed than any of the cards currently being offered by Chris Ivy and Rob Lifson (see example above).

In his lot description for the alleged fake he is offering, Rob Lifson, states, “An autographed example of this card is virtually non-existent.”  Lifson adds, “This is one of only a small number of Babe Ruth signed 1933 Goudey cards we have seen (probably fewer than 10) and the first we have handled since 1999.”

As evidenced by the REA and Heritage catalogs, amazingly, four are now available for gullible collectors to purchase, three of which have been authenticated and encapsulated by PSA/DNA.  The REA example comes with an LOA from James Spence/JSA.

REA’s withdrawal of the forged Ruth photographs and their continued sale of the Ruth-Cooper photograph are currently being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a source who has been in contact with a Federal agent confirmed for Haulsofshame.com that the Feds are building cases against PSA/DNA, Joe Orlando, Steve Grad, JSA, Jimmy Spence and auctioneers like Lifson and Ivy who continue to offer bogus material with fraudulent LOA’s.  The source told us, “They are just trying to get prosecutors involved to take it further.”

A source says the Feds are building cases against (l to r) Joe Orlando, Rob Lifson, Jimmy Spence and Steve Grad.

Babe Ruth’s granddaughter, Linda Ruth-Tosetti, has been at the forefront trying to stop the proliferation of forgeries of her grandfather’s signature and has spoken with an FBI agent about how serious the problem is.

UPDATE (May 7): Operation Bambino: Heritage Sells Alleged Bogus Babe Sigs For $82,000; REA Still Selling Fake Ruth to Gary Cooper Photo and Alleged Fake Signed 1933 Goudey; Rob Lifson Sold Barry Halper’s Fake Goudey At Sotheby’s in 1999; Spence Authenticated Sig In 2005 For SGC

Despite ridicule from a small contingent of experts who know Babe Ruth’s signature and handwriting well, Heritage Auction Galleries went ahead with the sale of the three 1933 Goudey cards alleged to have been signed by Ruth for the alleged “son of a Depression-era newspaper vendor at Fenway Park.”  One card sold for $50,787 and the other two for $20,315 and $11,352 respectively.  It’s true, there is a sucker born every minute.

These three Ruth Goudey cards are considered fakes by experts but were sold at Heritage for over $80,000.

Meanwhile, REA is still offering the bogus Babe Ruth inscribed photograph to Gary Cooper despite the fact that expert Ron Keurajian has identified it as a forgery and the Cooper family has confirmed that the photo was never part of their well known “Cooper Collection” maintained by Cooper’s daughter Maria Cooper-Janis.  The bidder, who asked that his bid be removed after learning in a Hauls of Shame article that the item was a fraud, was actually outbid by someone who placed a bid of $9,000.  But then that bidder, Ralph Gary Brauner, called REA again and was told by REA’s Tom D’Alonzo that the consignor of the fraudulent photo directed REA to remove Brauner’s bid, thus dropping the high bid to $8,000.  It appears that another bid has been placed since at $8,500. REA has also added what appears to be a new JSA auction LOA that is undated.

Barry Halper's alleged bogus Babe Ruth signed Goudey was sold by Rob Lifson at Sotheby's in 1999. The same card was certed authentic by Jimmy Spence (center) for SGC years later. The current offering by REA (right) is also alleged to be a counterfeit.

REA is also still offering its own alleged autographed 1933 Ruth Goudey card despite the opinion of several experts we spoke with who believe the signature is a forgery.  REA’s Rob Lifson has a history selling atrocious Babe Ruth forgeries, in particular another 1933 Goudey that he entered into the 1999 Sotheby’s sale of the Barry Halper Collection.  That card, widely considered a fake, sold for $17,250 and years later was authenticated by James Spence in an SGC graded holder and sold at SCP/Sotheby’s in December of 2005.

The Ruth forgery sold by Lifson and Halper at Sotheby’s does not exhibit any characteristics of an authentic Ruth signature.  We’re guessing Halper told Lifson he had that one signed in-person by Ruth when he signed his infamous 500 Home Run Club sheet on Babe Ruth Day at Yankee Stadium in 1947.  REA has also added an undated letter from the consignor of the lot descriptions for the alleged signed Babe Ruth photos that have been withdrawn from the sale.

Click these links for our previous Operation Bambino reports: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,  Part 4


51 Comments

  1. All the jsa stuff I see looks bogus, I think they need to look at him more and shut him down

    Comment by Woah Jon's — April 29, 2013 @ 1:37 am

  2. I see the controversial Babe Ruth photos and Ty Cobb were pulled from the REA auction. JSA certified pieces get pulled from auction yet again.

    Comment by TRAVIS R0STE — April 29, 2013 @ 8:17 am

  3. But the Ruth-Gary Cooper photo is still in the sale??

    Comment by admin — April 29, 2013 @ 8:32 am

  4. Travis,

    FYI: The Consignor contacted REA and requested that they remove the items. REA did not pull the items on their own.

    Comment by Jgmp123 — April 29, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  5. I didn’t know consignors had that power. To take valuable page/lot space in a catalog and an auction house’s commission away from them. May have been easier to furnish the name of the mysterious Boston Photographer who gave the photos to his car-giver at the old folks home. I guess the consignor will have to reimburse for the JSA authentication fees.

    Comment by admin — April 29, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  6. Admin,

    It came from a disagreement between the consignor and Rob. Rob did something that violated his trust.

    Comment by Jgmp123 — April 29, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  7. There was a disagreement between Rob Lifson and myself (Which I will not go into) and I felt it best if I had the 11 photo’s with autograph’s removed. He was very professional and apologetic for this misunderstanding. The photo’s with signatures are real as I can personally attest that they were in my family’s possession for over 40 years. I will attempt to either sell or auction them off again after I have them re-authenticated.

    Comment by jetsticks — April 29, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  8. They are all a bunch of thieves and come from the same mold, Spence, REA, Heritage and the list goes on and on.They all should be shut down and jailed, as it is a out right disgrace to what they are doing to the business and stealing the $ of hard working folks.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — April 29, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  9. The best way to buy autographs is always buy the cheapest one of the bunch because there probably all fake anyway. As a expert on Kansas City Athletics memorabilia at least half of what I see is fake.

    Comment by Jeff Logan - KCBHS — April 29, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  10. Herbie,

    Who, in your opinion, is an honest and reputable authenticator?

    Comment by jetsticks — April 29, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  11. When Jimmy Spence authenticated the 1939 cover on the right you could barely see evidence of an alleged Honus Wagner signature. But when the same cover appeared at a later date the Wagner signature magically darkened without Spence noticing as he authenticated the piece.

    Comment by Wiley Lyons — April 29, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  12. The article was just updated with the response from Gary Cooper’s daughter who told us:

    “I, of course, have seen that photograph in our family archives, (and) have several shots of Gary Cooper and Babe Ruth at some moment, but none of them are autographed and the picture you refer to was never in our possession.”

    Comment by admin — April 29, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

  13. Hey, lets not rush to judgment and throw Lifson under the RosaParks bus. I hear hes waiting for the actual videotape of the forger signing that photo.
    Or he could also get in a disagreement with the consignor and let him withdraw it. Take your pick. That catalog will really be a collectors item.

    Comment by Bill M. — April 29, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

  14. Jetsticks,it is hard to say who is the best today or even close.My advice would be to send a picture of the item in question to Peter and have him take a look at it and see if he can tell, or would send it to one of his connections, to take a look at it. All of his connections have been right on the money with their opinions.All the items in my collection, have been gotten by myself or from the person in question,or the family of the deceased in question.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — April 29, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  15. Thanks Peter for another great article. Linda Ruth Tosetti is one again right on. These guys should all be shut down. Keep up the great work! Brad – http://www.YankeesHistory.com

    Comment by Brad Turnow — April 29, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  16. How do I go about contacting Peter?

    Comment by jetsticks — April 29, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

  17. I have sent an e-mail to Peter at this web sites address. I welcome any and all doubters that the 11 photos with signatures are fake. If anyone wants to contest the authenticity of the signatures they are more than welcome to. My LOP is as accurate as can be however I’m sure there are some facts that a 90 year old man and a 73 year old woman cannot remember, but that should not diminish the fact that they are real. These 11 photos with signatures are a collector’s dream and should be treated as such.

    If anyone has a reputable authenticator they want to check out the signatures, please forward their info to me and I will appease all and any doubters of their authenticity.

    Comment by jetsticks — April 30, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  18. The thank you letter from Barry Halper to REA printed in their catalog says about all you need to know about these guys.

    Comment by Josh — April 30, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  19. Jetsticks,From reading your comments about the Babe Ruth signatures being real and not fake and challenge anyone to say different,I find it odd that you would question Peters decision based on his group of authenicaters who have deemed every one they have examined ,to be forged.It is evident that you dont know Peter and his group that well and havent been keeping up with his findings and know that many a auction house has pulled many items,when it was found out by Peter and his group, that they indeed were forged items.By the way, you would be surprised how sharp people 90 & 73 can be.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — April 30, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

  20. How could Peter and his group accurately examine them? Those are only pictures and not the real things. They may be good but come on….they don’t have super powers. Besides, I know they are real. It’s just getting the right people to verify that. If I’m willing to travel and meet people to verify them, that ought to tell you something.

    Comment by jetsticks — April 30, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  21. Hey jetsticks, do you have superpowers? You say you know they are real, yet you are not the person who supposedly got them signed in person. Pretty impressive. REA said these came from a Boston sportswriter or photographer, so what was his name? I guess the Babe didnt know his name either, because not one photo is personalized.
    Where are your JSA letters, did they reverse their opinion?

    Comment by Josh — April 30, 2013 @ 11:34 pm

  22. Josh, the photos were withdrawn from my request, not REA’s. I could have left them in there and they all would have sold for a pretty decent price. I had them withdrawn because REA violated my trust in a certain area which was and is causing issues with my family. That’s all. Once the issues are resolved I will attempt to auction or sell them again. If you’re smart enough to read between the lines about “family issues” then you should know what I am referring to. Hopefully Peter will have an authenticator that I can bring them to but I’m sure there will always be skeptics out there.

    Comment by jetsticks — May 1, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  23. JETSTICKS, After all the opinions about them, that has been put out there,I doubt very seriously that REA would want to put them back in their auction,cause they are in a world of deep shit over other forged items they have had in their auctions.After all is said and done,You are not going to find a person who is willing to put his or her reputation on the line,for something that many have said are no good.Just remember Operation Foul Ball ,is still in operation and they are nailing them left and right and if you are up on collecting, you know what I mean.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — May 1, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  24. Hey Jetstick, after reading the update on your treasures,you had better hop on your jet and boogie on out, cause they will be comming after you next, for trying to peddle forged items, that you claim are real, but cant prove any of it and the odds are aganist you.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — May 1, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  25. I find it very unusual for a group of signed Babe Ruth photos to not be inscribed and personalized and for Ruth’s signature to appear on second generation photos which were allegedly signed for the photographer.

    Comment by Richard S. Simon — May 1, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  26. ps. You would think the photographer would have the first generation prints.

    Comment by Richard S. Simon — May 1, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  27. I was an active dealer in Lifson’s backyard from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. In those years of going to shows and purchasing collections I twice saw a Babe Ruth autograph: once on a ball that turned out to be fake, and another on a beat-up ball at a show. I never saw a Lou Gehrig autograph in any format. Now, over the past decade, we have seen literally hundreds of primo, mint-condition Ruth and Gerhig autographed pictures, cards, baseballs, etc. for sale. If these items aren’t all fake (likely), where were they hiding back in the 1980s? And back in the 1970s, when hobby pioneers such as Sugar, Lipset, etc. starting dealing in these items? I fear 90% or more of the Ruth and Gehrig autographs that have come up for sale over the past decade may be fake.

    And who is this master forger from the 1990s?

    Chris.

    Comment by Chris J. — May 1, 2013 @ 11:51 am

  28. Herbie, REA will put them back up for auction in the fall if I request. They are not worried about the legalities because there is nothing to worry about. Like I have said before, I have people already contacting me to purchase some of these photos but I want to do the right thing for everyone, including myself, involved. Are you telling me that because someone said they are fake, without even seeing them, that no one else will state their reputation on authenticating them? If that is the case, then ALL their other items they authenticated should be in question because they don’t have confidence in their authenticating abilities.

    Comment by jetsticks — May 1, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  29. Those forged Goudeys are a joke. Its criminal whats going on at these auction houses. Makes Bill Mastro look like an alter-boy. Pun intended.

    Comment by Bullpen — May 1, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  30. Hey Jetsticks, why didn’t you get the LOA’s from JSA back from REA? Why would you need to get them authenticated anywhere else if JSA is a preferred authenticator for all of the major auction houses and eBay. If things are so rosy between you and REA why don’t you have the letters? Or why don’t you just reimburse REA for the cost of the letters and save yourself the added expense etc????

    Comment by admin — May 1, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  31. JETSTICK, We could keep this going back and forth till hell freezes over,but the odds are aganist you and if you have suckers who want to buy them from you and piss their $ to the wind, well go get them,cause there are suckers born everyday.As far as them being put back in the auction house,like I said, I doubt it,but if they are,so be it that a suckers wastes his $ on worthless paper,especially after the family says they never existed and have been deemed forged.It is your decision,but remember,OPERATION FOUL BALL is now watching you ,especially seeing as you have made such a big show out of this,a 8×10 isnt to bad,when you have 3 hots and a cot.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — May 1, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  32. My thinking is that if everyone on here thinks JSA is not legit, then why won’t someone tell me who is? Everyone has an opinion and will diss others but they won’t offer solutions. I’m saying I am willing to put them out there for ANYONE to authenticate but people here only want to be negative except jgmp123. He is the only one who has offered to help. Could it be everyone is envious that I am in possession of such items? I am willing to pay the extra expense to appease all doubters. That is how sure I am that they are real! Ideas???? Solutions????

    Comment by jetsticks — May 1, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  33. If you want them to be authenticated by someone who knows what he is doing and very few will argue with his opinion, please send them to Richard Simon.

    Comment by Jgmp123 — May 1, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  34. Thanks Jgmp123, that is what I intend to do. Also, if you would like to see them in person, we should get together since we are practically neighbors. I’ll listen to someone who has common sense but not to anyone else.

    Comment by jetsticks — May 1, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

  35. Opinions made by any so called “autograph expert” does not make an autograph authentic or a forgery. if you autograph is backed up by an opinion then you can not label it as authentic or a forgery

    Comment by Andrew G — May 1, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  36. Jetsticks,
    I’m not sure what your expertise is with Babe Ruth autographs and as far as I can see you are not claiming to have seen Babe Ruth (or Ty Cobb or Tris Speaker or Honus Wagner for that matter) sign these photos in your presence. You can take the photos to anyone you like, but in my opinion they are all forgeries and only the Joe Cronin signature looks close to legit. I even asked expert Ron Keurajian for his opinion and he concurred with me being of the opinion that all of your photos are forgeries. It wasn’t even close and the “George H Babe Ruth” signature was the initial reason I even took a closer look at these when the auction was posted. Your stories and whether you gave a different story to Lifson and REA are really insignificant–they can’t turn these into something they are not. Lots of people who know nothing about handwriting and Ruth’s signature may tell you otherwise (JSA included), but your alleged Ruth photos are not genuine. REA has no problem selling lots of other fakes, including the alleged Ruth to Gary Cooper photo, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they’d let you put the photos back in the REA sale. That’s your best bet, you’ve played the game pretty well up to this point and got JSA to authenticate the forgeries. You should apologize to Lifson and ask him to put them back in the auction, that’s your only chance at this point. If you didn’t figure it out yet, the characters who operate in this hobby aren’t really concerned with whether your items are genuine, they only care if it has that JSA LOA and they can resell it on eBay or wherever else.

    Comment by admin — May 2, 2013 @ 9:15 am

  37. I appreciate your opinion and your thoughts. I understand that there are going to be skeptics out there but that does not diminish the fact that they could be real. I can’t get past the fact that if they were fakes, why would a 90 year old man hold on to them for 50+ years? He had no reason to lie as back then (from what I’ve read) forgeries were not an issue because no one knew that a half century later they would be worth what they are now. If he forged them, or got them forged, why didn’t he try and sell them and why would a dying 90 year old try and snooker someone who helped him out? Doesn’t that seem odd to you?

    Comment by jetsticks — May 2, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  38. How can a company like REA continue to sell a photo like the Ruth/Cooper signed photo when both relatives can not verify it is authentic,it has been claimed a fake by top experts and the FBI is aware of it and is presently investigating the company? Someone please enlighten me.

    Comment by RALPH GARY BRAUNER — May 2, 2013 @ 11:08 am

  39. I suspect the blame game is going to explode between PSA, JSA, Heritage, etc. if charges are brought against them. EVERY single time an auction item’s authenticity is called into question, collectors get a prompt response of “We stand behind JSA’s (or PSA’s) opinion 100%.” A simple study of statement analysis reveals auction houses’ concerns.

    Comment by Josh L — May 2, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

  40. Ralph,

    Until criminal charges are brought against the parties involved, I imagine things will stay the same. Unfortunately, a case proving outright fraud committed by JSA, Heritage, etc. will require a pretty extensive investigation. That’s what is great and saddening at the same time about Peter’s work: he’s making this corruption among authenticators so clear, it’s painful.

    Comment by Josh L — May 2, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

  41. Its not too surprising that this Cooper photo is still in the sale. REA appears to be cut from the same cloth as Mastro and Halper.

    Comment by Thomas McManus — May 2, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

  42. One of the Babe Ruth signed Goudey cards in Heritage that is alleged to be a fake currently has a bid exceeding $40,000

    Comment by admin — May 3, 2013 @ 12:41 am

  43. The bid on the alleged Babe Ruth to Gary Cooper photograph had reached $9,000 but now that $9,000 bid has vanished and the high bid has returned to $8,000.

    Comment by admin — May 5, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  44. What I find astonishing and disturbing, besides jetsticks’ refusal to consider the mounting evidence indicating that the authenticators in whom he expresses so much faith are charlatans and predators, is the fact that he expresses a willingness to perpetuate the same fraud on other unsuspecting (or perhaps merely naively optimistic) collectors as has apparently been executed against him. There is a very high and hard-to-dismiss probability that he was taken advantage of by whomever convinced him to buy the items, and yet he expresses no remorse or empathy for the victim or victims he will now be creating by turning around and offering them at auction again. In what kind of murky moral vacuum does a person operate that would allow him to deliberately take advantage of someone else in this manner, even to the point of proudly proclaiming that he could, might, and probably will put these highly dubious items back on the auction block? Such a lack of introspection and soulless moral vacuity in a human being is startling and quite sad.

    Comment by Perry Barber — May 8, 2013 @ 9:10 am

  45. By the $9000.00 bid being removed and put back to the $ 8000.00 bid, tells me that the suposedly owner,knows they are fake and he or she themselves are padding the bidding and therefore, when it is pulled or whatever, they dont have to answer to anyone about them, but themselves.We all know about bids being padded by friends of the ownwer or themselves to get the most $ out of it.The bidding can be just as crooked as the auction house thenselves.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — May 8, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  46. Hey Blog Admin check out http://flik.us/blogs

    Comment by Mark — May 12, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

  47. This story has been around the hobby for a long time and was just put into print. A recently published report has described in detail the facts about author Al Stump, Ty Cobb’s biographer. It appears that Mr Stump was engaging in a massive forgery scam involving Ty Cobb signed items and memorabilia items. A number of the items in the market now originated from this scam. While there are many legitimate Ty Cobb items in the market now, I urge all to be wary when you buy a Ty Cobb item. Make sure you are buying from a knowledgable dealer or auction house. The items were originally brought to the market by Al Stump through a very well known former autograph dealer/authenticator. Mr Stump fooled him and he then in turn fooled others.

    Comment by Avis N. Dillard — May 22, 2013 @ 8:33 am

  48. I just want to say I am very new to weblog and truly savored you’re web-site. Probably I’m likely to bookmark your website . You amazingly have fantastic articles. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your website.

    Comment by Gregory Despain — June 5, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  49. The same style of forgery was even featured and utilized in PSA/DNA print advertisements placed in Sports Collectors Digest and other hobby publications. Third-Party authentication companies like PSA/DNA and JSA were first developed as the brainchild of Bill Mastro in the late 1990s and perfected by 2001 when Mastro joined forces with Lifson to form hobby auction behemoth MastroNet.com.

    Comment by Mel R. Bowers — June 7, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  50. [...] There isn't anyone on any board that can say the ball is legit just from seeing photos that are posted. All the signatures on the Cuban ball are done with the same color pen? That is strike one on most authenticators list. All I am saying is that just because it comes from some "legit" auction house, doesn't mean it is legit. If you're happy with your purchase great. Here is another legit seller. Sports Memorabilia Auction selling Baseball Cards, Football Cards, Graded Cards, Signed Autographed Vintage Sports, Boxing, Ice Hockey Memorabilia and Topps – Buy Online Hauls of Shame – Breaking News [...]

    Pingback by A Couple of Old Baseball Pickups - Blowout Cards Forums — June 25, 2013 @ 9:00 am

  51. Hey very interesting blog!

    Comment by dr. swejen salter — July 12, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

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