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By Peter J. Nash

March 15, 2011

Michael O'Keeffe


The cozy relationship between Daily News reporter Michael O’Keeffe and Robert Edward Auctions head, Rob Lifson, appears to be as strong as ever as evidenced by the continued biased reporting against this writer by, O’Keeffe, the author of the poorly researched and flawed book, The Card.

Ever since Rob Lifson became O’Keeffe’s primary source for The Card, (co-authored by Daily News Sports Editor Teri Thompson) the reporter has done Lifson’s personal bidding on the pages of the Daily News and has conveniently let his buddy off the hook when it comes to disclosing Lifson’s dubious history as a confessed thief of institutional artifacts and as a close associate of fraudster Barry Halper.

It’s amusing that O’Keeffe would mention the thefts at the New York Public Library in his piece today about this writer, and also quote Rob Lifson in the very same article. That’s the same Rob Lifson who was apprehended for the theft of what Time Magazine called a “small fortune in baseball cards” and “a cache of smiling infielders” from the famous Spalding Collection at the NYPL in 1979. The same Rob Lifson who, according to the Time writer, was apprehended with $5,500 cash on his person at the time of the theft. The Time writer was told by NYPL officials that the culprit, a 19-year old college student, admitted the cash came from “selling baseball cards in one day.” Of course, when he was caught stealing, Lifson considered himself the top dealer of vintage materials in the country. His buddy O’Keeffe makes sure to label the crime a “youthful indiscretion.”

In August of 2009, Lifson told O’Keeffe, “I want to set the record straight regarding untrue accusations promoted (via rumor and innuendo) by a very few individuals who wish to attempt to hurt my reputation by suggesting that I am responsible in any way for the theft of any of the missing items that have been stolen over the years from the New York Public Library. It’s simply not true.”

Then in December of 2010, Lifson confessed to Sports Illustrated that he had stolen items from the New York Public Library and that he’d been caught. The article claimed that Lifson told SI, “Thirty two years ago, he (Lifson) says, he was a precocious minor with too much money and freedom; one day while doing research at the library, high on a mix of drugs and alcohol, he secreted two photographs under a piece of cardboard attached to the outside of his briefcase. He was caught before he could leave the room.” (Back in 1979, Time Magazine reported: “The baseball card thief was caught when a guard saw him slipping the cards into a bubble gum box taped to his briefcase.”) 

I guess Lifson forgot about another time he confessed to this writer that he had “palmed a CDV” when he got caught stealing at the NYPL. That’s three different stories that O’Keeffe has conveniently omitted in his reports.

Young Rob Lifson (top right) began supplying Barry Halper (top left) as a teenage dealer in the 1970s. Lifson, the self-proclaimed "top-dealer" of rare baseball materials in the US as a teen has been linked to the sales of many items confirmed as stolen from the New York Public Library. Lifson was apprehended stealing from the NYPL in the late 1970s.

And lest we forget the cozy relationship Barry Halper had with the Daily News during his lifetime. The Daily News and writer Bill Madden shilled for Halper shamelessly and promoted bogus items in his collection for years, including fake jerseys of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Mickey Mantle that Halper fraudulently sold to MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame in a multi-million dollar deal in 1998.

It’s no surprise that the Daily News hasn’t covered any of the stories of Halper’s fraud or his victims.

Of course, Halper’s right hand man and supplier was O’Keefe’s pal, Rob Lifson, who remembers his buddy Halper this way:

Barry Halper has left an endless trail of happy faces and good will. Barry Halper’s emphasis on integrity and fair dealings sometimes gets overshadowed by his amazing collecting accomplishments.”

Ah, yes, The New York Daily News, the home of journalistic integrity (and cronyism, too.)

If you want to check out O’Keeffe’s work you can find it at this link from Lifson’s REA website:

Coach’s Corner, notorious for offering bogus items in their auctions is offering a REAL item in their current sale.  The problem is, the item, a letter written by Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem, is a protested game letter that appears to have originated from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s August Herrmann Papers archive:

This letter written by Bill Klem appears to have originated from the HOF's August Herrmann Protested Game files.

Philip Weiss Auctions offered the handiwork of Ty Cobb biographer Al Stump in their recent sale.  When we sent the link to Ron Cobb, author of Stumped by the Storyteller, he confirmed it was a genuine “Stumpie.”

This Cobb forgery originated from the collection of Al Stump.

Despite expert opinions that called it a forgery, the infamous TOPPS Legendary Cuts card featuring the alleged sigs of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig is now part of the collection of MLB pitcher Chris Perez, the Cleveland Indians’ closer.

Although the Topps offering was authenticated by James Spence Authentication (JSA) and PSA/DNA, the foremost baseball autograph expert in the country, Ron Keurajian says, “In my opinion both the Ruth and Gehrig cut signatures included in that Topps card are forgeries.”

Topps Legendary Cuts card featuring alleged signatures of Ruth and Gehrig.

One of Barry Halper’s famous fakes, the 1936 Joe DiMaggio rookie jersey he held out as authentic with an accompanying LOA from the Yankee Clipper, himself, resurfaced in a recent Hunt Auctions sale as a “vintage Yankee jersey” that was autographed by DiMaggio.  The jersey was previously sold at REA’s 2007 Halper post-mortem sale as, “made to commemorate DiMaggio’s 1936 rookie season.”  REA also wrote that the jersey “would never fool an expert, any more than a modern day replica would, nor (is it) intended to.”  Well, that’s not what Barry Halper thought when he “fooled” the Yankee Clipper into believing it was his own rookie jersey.  Uniform expert Dave Grob told us, “It’s not a replica, it’s a forgery and should be identified as such.”

This DiMaggio forgery from the Halper Collection has been sold twice as a "vintage replica" jersey signed by the Yankee Clipper.

For any of our loyal readers who missed it, check out our recent article at Deadspin about the controversy over Charlie Sheen’s 1927 Babe Ruth World Series Ring:!5775565/the-messy-history-of-charlie-sheens-winning-ring


  1. i wonder how many more fools out there were in cohoots with that thief,etc. Barry Halper and is evident that they dont care about there name be implicated with him.But as the old saying goes,WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND and if they figure they were cute doing it, will eventually pay the price for there stupidity.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — March 15, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  2. Let the dirty bastards have it, Peter! O’Keeffe is a swine. Anyone who has ever dealt with him knows it.

    Comment by Al Young — March 15, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  3. I always wondered how The Coaches Corner could get there hands on so much stuff for there auctions ,in such a short period of time.I guess they had quite a crew burning the midnite oil doing there dirty deeds and screwing the folks.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — March 15, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  4. Noonnan! Noonnan! Miss Noonnan!

    Comment by pickles — March 16, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  5. Hauls of Shame, You are doing one hell of a service not only for baseball and for those who love collecting pieces of its past, but for American history, our history. It sickens me that these pukes have literally ruined major portions of that history. Guys like that half a man “Little Robbie” Lifson, who still needs to be put in a car seat before he goes anywhere, needs to be exposed. Why no move on guys like him I wonder.
    Now we’ll never see the Babe’s ring(s) and know if what we are looking was his. How can anyone look at that 1927 ring and feel the same “magic” knowing what we do now – you can’t – it’s been taken away, stolen and to me that’s what it’s all abou. And Halper played Joe DiMaggio like that? That one really gets me big time, this stuff just keeps getting worse.
    When you do things as incredibly low as these guys and you’ve already been planted toes up, like Halper, isn’t there a law hidden away in the “books” somewhere that says you can flip them up-side down and make headstone revisions? How about checking that out Pete. Though Halper may have swiped those books too.

    Comment by Harry — March 20, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  6. The Cobb item pictured above was removed from the sale and returned to our consignor once we were informed that is was not authentic. It never reached the auction block. thanks Phil Weiss

    Comment by phil weiss — April 27, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

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