By Peter J. Nash
January 13, 2014
Earlier this month we published a report about the two bogus T206 Sherry Magie error cards that were authenticated and encapsulated by PSA and then offered for sale at Mile High Card Co. and in Probstein123’s eBay auction. Joe Orlando of PSA bought back the fake sold at Mile High for over $16,000 while Rick Probstein withdrew the other fake from his sale and sent it back to the PSA offices in California.
Now new evidence has emerged showing that both of the bogus cards were originally purchased as common T206 “Magee” variations on eBay by dealer Gerry Schwartz of Shirley, New York. In addition, a source tells Hauls of Shame that one of Schwartz’ Magee cards was also submitted to Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) as an altered “Magie” error variation.
After the card was identified as a fake by SGC graders, the card was then submitted to PSA at a later date and slabbed as a genuine Magie error card. That same source specified that the card given to SGC originated with Schwartz and when asked how sure he was about Schwartz’ links to the card he replied, “It’s gospel.”
In an interview with Hauls of Shame, the President of SGC, Dave Forman, said he could not reveal customer information publicly but added, “My graders did examine a Magie card that exhibited sophisticated alteration.” Forman said, however, he could not definitively identify that card as one of the two originally purchased by Schwartz on eBay and later cracked out of their PSA and SGC holders to become “Magie” error cards. Some in the hobby have claimed that Forman was once a partner with Schwartz and when we asked him to describe his relationship Forman stated, “I did several deals with Gerry between 1993 and 1995 but there was never a formal partnership.”
One of the T206 Magie fakes ended up selling for over $16,000 in a Mile High Card Co. auction in June. When asked if Gerry Schwartz was the consignor of the fake card sold in his auction Brian Drent said, “I can neither confirm or deny whether Schwartz was the consignor of the Magie card sold in our auction.” Drent added, “After Joe Orlando contacted us and bought the card back from our buyer in Australia, that’s the last I heard about this card.” Drent indicated that when he was first made aware of the situation by Orlando, the PSA President already knew the identity of his consignor. ”I assumed that Joe was already in contact with the consignor and was dealing directly with him, I just don’t know what actually happened after Joe and I spoke.”
Hauls of Shame contacted Gerry Schwartz by phone and email and asked if he could comment or offer any additional information as to how the cards he purchased on eBay ended up being submitted to PSA as T206 Magie error cards. Schwartz did not respond to our inquiry. Schwartz purchased the two Magee cards under the eBay ID “psa-card” and has also used the ID “syzygy3.14″ dating back to 2001.
Sources indicate that Schwartz has business relationships with many of the major auction houses and dealers in the country. It is also known throughout the hobby that allegations have been made by collectors who claim that Schwartz has sold altered and trimmed cards that were purchased on eBay and that in the past PSA has returned cards submitted by Schwartz because they were determined to have been trimmed. In one particular instance a creased 1916 “Holmes to Holmes Bread” Joe Jackson card that Schwartz purchased on eBay later appeared in a Robert Edward Auctions sale with its creasing much less visible than it was in its original eBay listing. Despite these controversies Net54 moderator Leon Luckey publicly vouched for Schwartz in 2009 calling him a “recommended seller.”
In addition to buying the two Magee cards on eBay Schwartz is said to have also purchased a T206 “Joe Doyle, NY” card which some believe could be similarly transformed into an ultra-rare “Joe Doyle NY Nat’l” variation. Several Doyle cards in the hobby are suspected to be fakes dating back to the example ESPN’s Keith Olbermann purchased from dealer Alan Rosen back in 1999. Olbermann purchased the card from Rosen and was refunded $21,000 when it was determined that the card was an altered counterfeit. Olbermann said in an article he wrote for VCBC, “Someone had clipped the word “Nat’l” off another T206 card and affixed it somehow to an ordinary Joe Doyle, N.Y.”
The new Magie fakes are far more sophisticated than the Doyle forgeries uncovered in the past like the Olbermann example. Back then a more professional Doyle forgery was encapsulated and deemed authentic by PSA and appeared in a company published coffee-table book called Collecting Sports Legends-The Ultimate Hobby Guide. At that time collector Corey R. Shanus asked other collectors on the Net54 collector forum: “If the entire player/team lettering on the bottom of the card is erased, can that erasure be detected? I ask because it occurs to me that if it cannot, then what’s to prevent a skilled crook from erasing a “Magee, Phila. Nat’l” and replacing it with a “Magie, Phila. Nat’l”?” Shanus asked that question five years ago and the only thing that prevented these two fakes from retaining their fraudulent authentic status was the vigilant eye of several collectors.
The news that Schwartz was the eBay buyer of both Magee cards was met with reactions by dealers and auction executives ranging from statements of “Wow” and “Holy sh–t” to “Keep me out of this” and “This is now a criminal matter.” One major auctioneer claimed he didn’t know Gerry Schwartz and another source prominent in the hobby told us, “My guess is that for sure there is another party (other than Schwartz) involved in the Magee fiasco but I have no idea who it is.”
Schwartz has also been associated in the past with dealer Gary Moser who claims he “was one of the first dealers to send (his) cards out and allowed a third party to determine grade.” In the past Moser has also been accused of selling altered and trimmed cards to collectors. In one such case, collector Marc Schoenen claimed that Moser had sold him, “A large number of high-grade GAI 1955 Bowman baseball cards that were independently verified later as having been trimmed, re-glossed, or a combination of both.” Schoenen confronted Moser on the Net54 board in 2008 and asked him, ”Are you planning on letting us all in on the secrets as to how you managed to perpetrate these alterations and get them past a professional grading company?” We asked Schoenen if he ever had similar problems with Schwartz and he replied, “My problems were always with Moser, specifically, but I believe they’re a tag team.” Schoenen also said he plans on having his own T206 Magie card re-examined to make sure it is authentic.
One other person who was willing to go on the record about Schwartz was outspoken collector Dan McKee who told us, “Since it seems Gerry was the buyer of the 2 Magee commons used to make the errors, then he should at least be able to tell us who he sold them to so that a trace can be started.”
Hauls of Shame has not been able to confirm whether the two T206 Magie fakes are currently being investigated by either local law enforcement or the New York office of the FBI.
(If you have any additional information on the two T206 Magie fakes or others, please contact us at: Tips@Haulsofshame.com )