Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

June 30, 2017

Scroll Down For Update:

The Messy History of Charlie Sheen’s “Winning Ring” just got a bit messier with evidence mounting and suggesting that the alleged 1927 Babe Ruth World Series ring being sold at auction tonight is a fake. The authenticity of the media-hyped Ruth ring (with a current bid of $895,429) is also coming under fire because Lelands Auctions is fraudulently claiming that the ring was originally acquired from Claire Ruth (Babe’s widow) by disgraced and now deceased collector Barry Halper. The auction house has also made claims that the “G. H. Ruth” engraving inside the ring “perfectly matches the few other original player rings” of 1927 Yankee players.  Upon close examination, however, the engraving on the alleged Ruth ring greatly contrasts other genuine 1927 player rings.

Even the Bambino’s own grandaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti, has chimed in regarding the visible differences in the engraving stating, “You’d have to be blind to not see that Sheen’s ring was engraved by someone else. It isn’t even close to the real ones I was shown that belonged to my grandfather’s teammates.”

The authenticity of the alleged Ruth ring has been in the spotlight since this writer published  investigative reports for Deadspin and Hauls of Shame back in 2011. Now, nearly six years later, HOS and several hand engravers are taking a close look at the Ruth engraving and comparing it to other genuinely engraved Yankee rings. None of the serious questions regarding the ring’s authenticity and provenance, however, have been referenced in any of the national media reports claiming that the bogus ring is a “Holy Grail” of the National Pastime. After thoroughly examining the evidence, it appears that Sheen may join Director Penny Marshall, ex-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Baseball Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark as a high profile individual who was swindled and defrauded by George Steinbrenner’s former New York Yankees partner, Barry Halper.

As we described in detail in the previous reports about the controversial ring, the engraving found on the inside of the gold artifact would shed the most light on its authenticity.  Until Lelands revealed the engraving on its website recently the authenticity of the ring could only be speculated upon because the ring itself is undoubtedly an authentic example created by jeweler Dieges & Clust in 1927 for the Yankees and Major League baseball.  The examination of the personalized engraving, the only aspect of the ring that would make it the Bambino’s own personal trophy, is perhaps the only characteristic of the ring that can determine its ultimate authenticity. With the postings of the actual engraving on Leland’s website it is clearly evident that the “G.H. Ruth” greatly contrasts other genuine rings which have been sold at auction over the past few decades. In particular the rings of manager Miller J. Huggins and utility player Mike Gazella illustrate the differences best as they incorporate the similar capital letters “H” and “G” just like the alleged Ruth example.

The engraving found on the genuine rings of Miller Huggins and Mike Gazella (right) contrasts the questioned "G. H. Ruth" engraving on the left. In particular the capital "G" engraved on the Gazella and the capital "H" on the Huggins illustrate that the Ruth ring does not "perfectly match" other player rings as claimed by Lelands.

One owner of a genuine 1927 Yankees World Series ring noticed the contrast and told Hauls of Shame, “The H in the Ruth ring looks amateurish and careless with none of the deep embellishments which characterize the font style of the capital letters of the other rings and especially not of the capital “H” of the Huggins.” In addition he stated, “Although the initial “G” in the Ruth ring has the same general lines and curves as the Gazzella ring, it also looks amateurish and uneven in strokes and pattern.”

Hand engravers and another owner of a genuine 1927 WS ring all agree that Sheen's Ruth ring engraving does not match that of the Huggins and Gazella rings, in particular, the capital "H" and "G" on all three rings highlighted in red on this black and white image of the three examples.

The same owner of the other 1927 ring also astutely noted that the “G.H. Ruth” engraving appeared to have been worn down in some manner but also noticed the almost pristine condition of the exterior of the alleged Ruth ring.  He added, “My ring has considerable wear (on the exterior) but the engraving is still deep and visible.” One hand engraver told us that the wear on the inside of the ring would likely not occur and could be just light engraving, contrasting the deep engraving on the real D&C rings.

HOS presented to several hand engravers this image of the Ruth ring vs. the contrasting examples of genuinely engraved Yankee player rings of (top to bottom) Miller Huggins; Mike Gazella; Earle Combs; and Bob Shawkey

Hauls of Shame presented several hand engravers of fine jewelry with images of the Ruth ring engraving alongside the other genuinely engraved examples. All of the engravers noted the differences between the Ruth ring and the genuine exemplars and some noted that the Ruth appeared to have been engraved by a different instrument than the other Yankee rings. While it is always more accurate to examine such characteristics in person (if possible) the differences between the Ruth ring and the others is so distinct that speculation regarding its authenticity should be seriously considered.

Since the time HOS presented the hand engravers with the above referenced exemplars, images of two additional genuine rings were forwarded to us by a veteran collector. Those two rings of Herb Pennock and Bennie Bengough also show engraving that matches the authentic rings but distinctly contrasts the Ruth example being sold by Sheen.

Two additional genuine rings have surfaced showing engraving that contrasts Charlie Sheen's alleged Ruth ring. The rings of Bennie Bengough (left and top right) and Herb Pennock (bottom right) further suggest that the Ruth ring 's engraving is fraudulent. The bengough ring shows severe wear on the exterior of the ring while the engraving appears to be bold like every other known example except for the questioned Ruth ring.

There have been close to a dozen genuine 1927 Yankee rings offered at public auction since the 1990s including the Huggins, Gazella, Combs, Pennock, Bengough and Shawkey examples as well as others presented to Dutch Ruether, Joe Dugan, and Pat Collins (all of which did not show the engraving in the sale catalogs). Recently the Dieges & Clust internal company  documents related to the 1927 Yankee ring order surfaced at auction.  The auction lot included the actual engraving sheet with the names of every player to be engraved along with the ring sizes.  Babe Ruth was identified with a ring finger size of 11 1/2, but Lelands does not mention the current size of the ring. Lelands includes a letter of authenticity for the ring from London Jewelers in Manhasset, NY, but that letter only addresses the legitimacy of the ring itself.  It appears that the jeweler was not even asked to examine the engraving on the alleged Ruth ring or compare it to other legitimate examples.

Close ups of the engraved capital letter H on the Ruth ring (left) show the distinct differences in engraving with the Herb Pennock (center) and Miller Huggins (rignt) rings. The Ruth H is light and amateurish with what appear to be stops and hesitations in the engraving, not wear and tear.

If the serious issues with the Ruth engraving weren’t enough, there’s the additional issue of the apparent fabricated provenance story that was provided by Halper to Lelands founder and CEO, Josh Evans back in 1990.  In his Sports Collectors Digest “Balls in the Attic” column Evans interviewed Halper who claimed he acquired the 1927 ring from Babe Ruth’s only blood-daughter, Dorothy Ruth Pirone. But in its current catalog Lelands has changed that story and now states that Halper acquired the ring from Ruth’s widow.  Lelands even goes as far to state, “The ring was slightly sized sometime after the Babe’s death in 1948 for Claire to wear as an homage to her late husband.” Despite the documentation of multiple provenance stories and the lack of any verifiable evidence to support their claims, Lelands appears to have resorted to fraudulent misrepresentations to promote the auction lot.  Hauls of Shame reached out to Lelands CEO Josh Evans and Mike Heffner in multiple emails and phone calls to see if the auction house could offer any proof to support their claims and to address the issues with the problematic engraving of the Ruth ring.  Evans and Heffner both failed to answer the emails or return any of the phone calls.  One prominent collector told us, “I’m disappointed that Josh is so blatantly lying about everything.”

Linda Ruth Tosetti is not pleased with Lelands’ actions and told us, “Lelands should be ashamed of themselves but I guess the saying is true, there’s a sucker born every minute.” She has also taken issue in the past with Barry Halper’s false claim that he purchased the ring from her mother.  Ruth-Tosetti added, “My mother said in her 1988 autobiography that all of Babe’s rings had vanished from the family. She never had it or sold it to Barry Halper. Halper lied in 1990 when he said he bought it from her.  This lie was (made) after my mother died.”  That being said, the Babe’s granddaughter would like to know how in the world Lelands could know if Halper acquired the ring from Claire Ruth? As far as she is concerned, “It’s another Halper fake that’s as phony as a 3 dollar bill.”

The 1927 Yankee WS ring engraving order form (left) shows the Ruth ring with a size of 11 1/2 and lists all of the player names engraved at the same time by Dieges & Clust. Barry Halper (center) lied about the ring's provenance and sold it to Josh Evans of Lelands (right)

Evans has a long history as a client and dealer for Barry Halper and in the current Charlie Sheen lot catalog descriptions refers to Halper as a “groundbreaking baseball collector” and “the most important collector in baseball memorabilia history.”  In showering Halper with accolades, however, Evans has ignored the deceased Yankee partner’s documented history as a con artist and fraudster.

Halper has been implicated for selling bogus materials to Major League Baseball and the Baseball Hall of Fame including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s 1919 jersey and Mickey Mantle’s 1951 Yankee rookie jersey.  Officials from the Hall of Fame admitted to returning the Mantle jersey and in October of 2011 revealed that testing on Halper’s Jackson jersey proved it was a fake, showing that it was created with materials including substances that weren’t in existence until the 1940s and 50s.

The Jackson fake is similar to Sheen’s Ruth ring in that it was also  sold with a phony provenance story. It is clear that Halper knowingly defrauded Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame based upon the conflicting acquisition stories he made up for the Jackson jersey.  In 1985 he told The Sporting News it was a recent acquisition from ”Jackson relatives,” but at the time of the sale to MLB he said he purchased the jersey directly from Jackson’s widow in the 1950’s on a visit to her home in Greenville, South Carolina.  Halper said at the time he purchased Jackson’s jersey, “Black Betsy” bat, glove and engraved pocket watch from his widow, Katie, for $150. All of the items, including the engraved pocket watch were counterfeits.

Many of Halper’s most spectacular items, like Sheen’s Ruth ring, were accompanied with equally spectacular stories of his acquisitions. However, under further scrutiny Halper’s stories have unraveled and mirror the Joe Jackson jersey controversy. A similar problematic item that Halper sold was Lou Gehrig’s glove from his last game which turned out to be fraudulent as well.  Gehrig’s genuine last glove is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and was donated by his mother.  Halper sold the glove with a dubious provenance story for over $300,000, the highest price ever paid for a baseball glove. Halper also sold another 1927 World Series ring attributed to Lou Gehrig even though the Hall of Fame owns and displays Gehrig’s genuine ring which is part of a charm bracelet given to his wife.

Complicating things further, Halper even fabricated acquisition stories for legitimate items like the other big ticket item Sheen is selling at Lelands. Lelands claims that the Babe Ruth sale agreement to the Red Sox was acquired by Halper from the family of Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert.  Halper claimed in magazine interviews that he bought them from Ruppert’s grandson in the attic of his former home.  This story has been exposed by HOS as a total fabrication based upon email transmissions from the actual seller of the Ruth sale documents that have been circulating in the hobby since the 1990s. The seller had absolutely no relation to Ruppert and found all of the Ruth documents in a shoe box in a NYC office building.  The man who found the shoe box sold the documents to Halper in the 1980s for approximately $25,000 to pay for his daughters wedding. There was never any link to Jacob Ruppert, yet Lelands falsely states there was, even after being informed of this by HOS.

Problems with the engraving and the controversy regarding the origins and phony provenance of the Ruth ring have not scared bidders away. One bidder could be Hollywood mogul Thomas Tull who recently purchased Babe Ruth’s 1920 uniform from Lelands for over $4 million. Tull, who is also a board member at the Baseball Hall of Fame, has been scooping up some of the games most historic items for his personal collection.  Will the suspicion that the ring is a fake scare him off? As the alleged Babe Ruth ring approaches the $1 million mark at Lelands, will Barry Halper break another record with a fraudulent artifact and a fabricated provenance tale? Only time will tell.

UPDATE: Lelands Sells Sheen Ring For Over $2 Mil While Even More Evidence Surfaces Suggesting It’s A Ruthian Fake

Despite all of the evidence suggesting that the alleged 1927 Babe Ruth World Series ring was fraudulently engraved to pass it off as the Bambino’s own, Lelands Auction house went ahead and sold it for $2,093,927 on Friday night.  The auction house failed to address any of the concerns about the ring’s authenticity and also failed to withdraw its fraudulent claim that deceased collector Barry Halper had acquired the ring “directly from Claire Ruth” who died in 1976. When the sale was reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, however, the Sheen bling was described as only being “attributed to Babe Ruth” due to the serious issues regarding the ring’s authenticity.

The red arrows point to periods placed by the Dieges & Clust engraver after the capital letter initials of every Yankee player. The alleged Ruth ring (top row, left) features no periods after the amateurishly engraved "G" and "H".

On Friday evening, Hauls of Shame posted on Twitter additional evidence illustrating that the much-hyped ring could very well be a fake. It was noted that the engraving of every genuine player ring from 1927 featured periods placed after every upper case initial in each name and that the alleged Babe Ruth ring was engraved with no punctuation.

Via Twitter, Hauls of Shame alerted collectors and the media of another "tell" that the Sheen ring is likely a forgery. The alleged forger appears to have forgotten to place periods after the Ruth initials.

In addition to what has been described by hand engravers and veteran collectors as juvenile and amateurish “light” engraving, the lack of periods on the alleged Ruth ring is yet another tell that a forger created the attribution of Ruth ownership. The forger, however, made tell-tale mistakes that should have been recognized by Lelands and its jewelry appraiser, London Jewelers. But Lelands never showed the appraiser, Mark Reyman, any other examples to compare the engraving to and after posting the London appraisal report on its website, Lelands made another false statement claiming that the engraving on the alleged Ruth ring “exactly” matched the other known rings.

Calls to Lelands went unanswered last week but Hauls of Shame did speak with London Jewelers appraiser Mark Reyman who declined comment on the controversial ring but did confirm that Lelands never asked him to examine the engraving on the ring or to compare it to any other known examples offered at previous auction sales. Neither Reyman or a London Jewelers spokesperson were available for comment after the sale.

The buyer of Charlie Sheen’s controversial ring has not yet been revealed but when that person or organization is identified, the cloud of controversy regarding the legitimacy of the ring will likely follow.


11 Comments »

  1. As always… fascinating stuff and great research by the best detective in the memorabilia business!

    Comment by Hal Lewis — June 30, 2017 @ 1:52 pm

  2. It will a a rotten shame that some body will be paying over a million ,probably for a useless hunk of junk metal.Just another one of Halpers scams like he did to Mickey mantle and others and got away with it while he was alive.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — June 30, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

  3. I am aghast at the spin that the auction house are putting on this! People it’s a FAKE! No certificate or who owned it will change that! What don’t you what understand if not your eyes! Halper tried to pass the Gehrig 1927 ring too. There was none. Lou had just the head made because all his rings heads are in a bracelet for his wife, it is in the HOF. Been there since I first saw it as a kid. This ring was with Babe’s 1927. Get it together collectors! You need a check up from the neck up. Check the egos!

    Comment by Linda — July 2, 2017 @ 10:50 am

  4. Someone started a thread about this and put a Link over on GUU and the mods censored it/deleted the post.

    Comment by James — July 2, 2017 @ 11:20 am

  5. I think this ring looks great. And I think the price is a real steal.

    Comment by Harry Balper — July 3, 2017 @ 8:41 am

  6. Halper should have lived and spent his years next cell over from Gotti. He was a disgrace. How many SCD issues with his smiling mug?

    Comment by Mastronaut — July 6, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

  7. When are you going to write about that stolen Peck & Snyder card that the scumbag JC Clarke has but won’t return to the library?

    Comment by Mastro Monkey — July 13, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

  8. Anybody know what Sheen has to say about all of this??!!

    Comment by Pam Guzzi — July 14, 2017 @ 6:21 pm

  9. An imaginary conversation:

    JC: “Look at this salacious website about Peter Nash!”

    Leon: “Oh my! It is indeed very bad!”

    Net54 Monkey: “The horror!”

    JC: “I was wondering…do you think the fact that I am intending to keep stolen property makes me look bad?”

    Leon: “No. I’ve tried to do that before myself. No big deal.”

    JC: “Thanks.”

    Leon: “No problem. The rule is, if you steal something and no one claims it, it’s yours. There’s also an ancillary rule about selling drugs to children and not getting caught.”

    JC: “Makes sense to me. You know, that Nash guy sure is terrible.”

    Leon: “Yep. He sure is.”

    Comment by Arlen Cosmo — July 17, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

  10. It is simply amazing how much of Halper’s stuff is garbage. Either he was the dumbest collector ever or he was the biggest lying scam artist in the history of the hobby so far.

    Comment by OCDan — July 18, 2017 @ 1:48 am

  11. Josh Evans’ testimonials to his buddy Barry Halper are cringe-worthy and telling. Are there any auctioneers out there who have any scruples? Any news yet on who the winner/victim of the Sheen ring?

    Comment by Keith — July 21, 2017 @ 4:51 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment