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Autograph Alert
The Premier Site for Autograph Related News!
In the News, June - November, 2009
Breaking News:
November 29, 2009
 
Autograph Authenticating Scams
Continue to Diminish the Autograph Hobby!

With all the documented evidence over several years of the incompetence of the high profile authenticators, there are still some shops and shows that allow these authenticating imposters to attend their events.

People who pretend to be able to authenticate autographs can’t tell the difference between real ink and printed signatures. They all have made every imaginable mistake possible. Authenticated as genuine are rubber stamped signatures, secretarial signatures, machine signed signatures, and forged signatures. This is an extremely common occurrence by all of the high profile authenticators. Worse, in many cases, they have identified a signature that is of a different person. How incompetent can you be when a high profile company authenticates a Karl Doenitz (German Fuhrer) as America’s Admiral Nimitz?

The autograph market has been flooded with their worthless mis-diagnosed "guesses" and "opinions." Every one of them will take your money and offer no guarantee for their uneducated guesses.

James Spence has been embarrassed more than once on national television authenticating autographs as genuine that were forged just hours before the interview.

PSA/DNA’s top authenticator Steve Grad said during a deposition that "I don’t recall" when he was asked if he was physically removed from the Chicago National Sports convention for selling forgeries.

You can be assured that every shop and show that allow these wannabe autograph authenticators to attend their events are well aware of how incompetent these self- proclaimed authenticators are. Yet they have no problem nor conscience allowing their customers availability to the wannabe authenticators.

It is an absolute insult to all collectors when shops and shows allow these companies to rent booths. They certainly do not have the good of the collector in mind and the only reason has to be greed, simply to collect revenue to rent another both. There is basically no difference if the shops and shows would rent a table to a forger! The authenticators are passing many bad items for dealers and collectors and these items enter the autograph market. Shame on the shops and shows that support these imposters.

Always keep in mind, these authenticating companies simply offer basically an uneducated opinion. Try to find one of these authenticators that has taken any one of the fourteen autograph educational courses that were taught around the United States. We can assure you that not a single authenticator has taken the free Internet Autograph Educational Course and received the Certificate of Completion available on this website. Try to find one authenticator who will financially guarantee their guess.
 
Be it known, the bulk of professional autograph dealers will NOT accept any one of these 3rd party authenticator guesses for a refund. Basically, 3rd party COA’s have become worthless. No autograph needs a 3rd party COA to be sold. Choose any one of the many professional autograph dealers and auction houses. They will purchase your autograph or take it on consignment based on their own expertise!
 
The autograph community is finally coming together. Many dealers and collectors are protesting these authenticators, and will NOT attend any event the authenticators are allowed to exhibit; nor purchase any autograph that comes with one of the 3rd party Certificates.

There are many websites that educate the consumer on the uselessness of 3rd party autograph authenticators.

For additional information on the 3rd party authenticating scams click onto:

www.behindthegavel.com

Or go to www.toddmuellerautographs.com and click on his new "News" link. Educational information will be posted shortly.

Breaking News:
November 27, 2009
 
Autograph Authentication...
A Tragedy That Continues!

Is there any question that the blight of so-called autograph authenticators has created a catastrophic environment within the autograph industry?

Most of the wannabe authenticators have absolutely no formal training. They have no formal training in handwriting, and most never took one of the 15 autograph educational courses that were taught around the United States.

There is even an educational Internet Autograph Course available on this website. It is very popular with collectors and dealers. Not a single person who likes to call themselves an autograph authenticator has taken the course and requested a Certificate of Completion!
The following are just a few emails from our readers and how they feel about autograph authenticators.

"Dear Autographalert.com, thank you so much for what you are doing and trying to accomplish…It’s too bad that PSA/DNA, James Spence and the others are destroying the hobby…." Erik.

"Just wanted to drop a quick note to say that your site is GREAT as I learn more about autograph collecting. The articles I find most interesting are the ones about the so-called "experts" in authentication and just how un-informed they really are when rendering opinions…faith is put in a PSA approval by many collectors, but as I‘ve learned, their mistakes far outweigh the good…" Ryan

"Hi, I am an avid reader of the autographalert site. I think you guys over there are doing great work…these 3rd party authenticators are a joke…" Chris

"I just went to autographalert.com and greatly enjoyed it!! It’s nice to see the "high & mighty" PSA/DNA get exposed for what they really are…..thanks for your long and tireless efforts to make this a better business and hobby…" Billy

"..I had asked permission to reprint your articles in our autograph collectors blog. I just wanted to tell you that I have received overwhelming response from collectors and dealers in reference to the third party authenticating mistakes…" Lon

"..I want to thank and commend you on your great site..great to see the phonies being gradually exposed…keep up the good work." Jim

"…how long can someone sit back and see PSA, etc. make mistake after mistake after mistake? I love what you are doing and as someone who recognizes that there are very few of us with knowledge of autographs and the courage to stand up to this crap; your efforts are much appreciated. I can assure you that I will be referring people to your site…" Alan

"I think you should re-visit the story where the TV news reporter had the hidden cameras and got Spence to authenticate a baseball that she had signed in the parking lot…" Bob

"…3rd party is becoming extinct…..believe it or not the website is doing some very positive things for the hobby. For one, perhaps the most important reason, it is killing 3rd party authentication. The scam has been slowly peeled away and it is unraveling at an unprecedented rate…" Todd

"..First, I want to thank you for exposing these 3rd party frauds. Your site breathes fresh air into our hobby….." Michael

"of all the business experiences I have had I my life, the worst part of it has been in the autograph portion, with its fake autographs, crooked dealers and authenticators who don’t know what they are talking about. The worst thing that happens is greed takes over and one loses his principles." Joe

"JSA is a joke…..they came to a local card store to offer their great authentication services. I am an in-person collector so I knew my autographs were real…well, all the baseballs I got signed in-person were deemed fake…when the store owner who knows me as an in-person collector questioned them (JSA), all of a sudden my baseballs were now real…" Tom

"WOW!!! All I can say is wow! I will now officially be out of the hobby until the Feds get involved big time. Why the FBI is not involved by now I do not understand…Unfortunately, it seems to fall on the shoulders of the staff at autographalert, Richard Simon and a handful of others who want to get the word out there that there is too much corruption in our hobby. Maybe it’s time for every collector to not get anything authenticated until there are some serious guidelines in place." Charles

Roger Epperson seems to have a disdain for an autograph education. In his recent email of September 21, 2009 to an author of several autograph educational books he wrote: "…any book written by you would be a waste of my time…"

However Mr. Epperson is very much aware of the damage third party autograph authenticators have done to our hobby. Epperson writes on July 28, 2009: "..let’s deal with the facts. There are more than 2 high profile companies passing off garbage…."

Yet a email we received from a collector titled "R&R Educational Alert" states in part: "…he’s had things he bought from Roger Epperson, submitted them to R&R, and they’ve been rejected…"

Very, very common is that collectors and dealers have purchased autographed items from those listed as "experts" with authenticating companies. Many have found the item they purchased is not genuine.

Who is to blame for all this? In some cases the collectors who purchase any autograph that comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from some authenticating company. There is certainly enough information on the internet and through educated professional dealers to teach you to avoid these worthless pieces of paper.

More fault can be found with the handful of auction houses who support 3rd party authenticators. The auction houses are well aware the authenticators are incompetent. They have been told over and over by collectors and dealers. The few still use them because the authenticators issue Certificates of Authenticity for items they own, then consign them to the auction house. This is big business for some of these auction houses. The auction houses are starting to suffer as they learn they can’t get away with this much longer. Educated collectors are avoiding bidding with these auction houses.

Want more proof right from a horse's mouth? The authenticating companies seem to be well aware of how incompetent they are.

Collectors Universe is the parent company of PSA/DNA. The following is a quote from Collectors Universe 2009 Annual Report.

"Additionally, we warrant our certification of authenticity and the grade we assign to coins, trading cards and stamps bearing our brands. We do not warrant our authenticity determinations for autographs and memorabilia."

For areas of collecting they think they know something about, they offer a warranty. Collectors Universe continues in their annual report:…".we issue an authenticity or grading warranty with every coin and trading card authenticated or graded by us…if a coin or trading card that has been authenticated by us is later determined not to have been authentic, we are obliged under our warranty to purchase the coin or trading card at the price that the then owner paid for that collectible." "…in the second quarter, and in the third quarter of fiscal 2008, we incurred warranty claims that were significant in relation to our historical claims experience and, as a result, we recognized the second quarter of 2008, an additional expense of $822,000 for those claims…"

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine $822,000 is chump change compared to what would have to be spent on autograph authenticating mistakes. They are well aware of this and maybe that’s just why there’s no warranty on their autograph authentications.

Notice

Collectors/dealers this is a notice to those of you who have used 3rd party authenticators and have found their "opinions" or "guesses" not to be accurate. Because of time restraints, www.autographalert.com can no longer assist with your individual problems with authenticating companies. Although we have not found where they will refund your money, a few, after pressure, may give you a voucher for a future authentication, free of charge. Whoop de do!

 
Breaking News:
November 21, 2009
 
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Royal Arts Files Court Action
Concerning "Doctored" Photographs


American Royal Arts (ARA), a Florida based company and recognized leader in the rock n roll fine art and memorabilia industry, has once again stepped up to the plate in an effort to protect the industry's integrity and to protect the memorabilia fan, collector and consumer. On November 18, 2009, ARA filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County, Florida, against Bruce Hall, d/b/a Gallery of Dreams. In the Complaint, ARA alleges that Gallery of Dreams, a California based company which has an established and continuous course of business dealings in Florida, sent to ARA and other similarly-situated companies, false provenance and altered/doctored photographs which it represented supported the authenticity and genuineness of the memorabilia it sold to ARA and others.

ARA's dispute with Gallery of Dreams began during a November 13, 2009 hearing in a lawsuit ARA filed in 2007 against Frank Caiazzo, d/b/a, the Beatles Autographs, for defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices and unfair competition. During this hearing, ARA's president Jerry Gladstone, during a cross examination by Caiazzo's lawyer, was handed photographs of celebrities signing guitars that were "doctored". In a rather dramatic moment, (Someone from the Caiazzo camp notified the press) Caiazzo and his business allies (Steve Cyrkin and Roger Epperson) thought they dropped a bomb on ARA. It was, actually, a dud. Mr. Gladstone vehemently denied having altered photographs or having any knowledge that the autographs were altered. He promised to fully investigate immediately following the hearing. In contrast, Caiazzo and his lawyers had "sandbagged" revelation of this seemingly legitimate concern with the photos to further their personal concerted smear campaign against ARA. Caiazzo and his supporters had no interest in immediately exposing their apparent discovery of the doctored photos to protect the public from further damage. No, there continued interests were self-centered and motivated by self-preservation, rather than for the good of the industry as a whole. In reality ARA did not tamper with any of the photos. In fact ARA is now aggressively seeking justice against Gallery of Dreams.

ARA takes these issues very seriously. ARA has provided the press with supporting information to confirm that it did not participate in any wrong doing and that it was defrauded by Gallery of Dreams, as alleged in the lawsuit.

A more dramatic point during the November 13 hearing was when Frank Caiazzo admitted, for the first time in an open forum, that he has no formal training what so ever to support his self-proclaimed status as a "handwriting expert." It was also disclosed in a deposition in that litigation that Caiazzo has placed his own Beatles material (bearing his own certificates of authenticity) for sale in major auction houses, including Christies, Sotheby's, Alexander's Auction, and eBay. When Caiazzo was asked who checks his work before it goes into auction his answer was "nobody." Only he, who admittedly has no formal training what so ever, authenticates these items!

Caiazzo was questioned about another document during the November 13 hearing, a Certificate of Authenticity he issued on a "Please Please Me" Beatles album. His own counsel had placed the item into evidence as a defense Exhibit! ARA counsel grilled Caiazzo as to whether this certificate authenticated as legitimate a "Please Please Me" album which was fabricated by transferring three Beatles signatures from a menu and one from a clip to the album. Caiazzo had already admitted to having certified a "Sgt. Pepper's" album which bore signatures transferred from another item to the album. In that deposition, Caiazzo testified, under oath, that it was ok to transfer signatures as long as one discloses it in the certificate. There was no such disclosure on the "Please Please Me" album that Frank Caiazzo certified on April 12, 2005. In addition "provenance" was included in that Caiazzo certificate. He represented that this Beatles album was signed by the Beatles for a young girl waiting for them outside a venue! During the hearing on November 13, Caiazzo testified that it was possible that his April 12, 2005, certificate was for the very same "Please Please Me" album. Chances are, it was, particularly if one accepts Caiazzo's own suggestion that only had a handful of Beatles albums exist bearing all four of their autographs.

ARA has been doing business for over 24 years with a stellar reputation. It has an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau. ARA was founded in 1986, and has held numerous worldwide publishing and distribution rights for MGM/Rocky, Apple Corp., Disney Studios, Frank Sinatra Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Warner Bros., DreamWorks, artist Joe Petruccio, Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin, and photography from the Hulton Archive of London, MirrorPix, James Fortune Peter Simon and, most recently, the Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp. ARA will continue to do all it can to put an end to the unfair and deceptive practices and to eventually restore peace, honesty and integrity to this industry.

Jerry Gladstone
President
American Royal Arts Corp.
546 North West 77th Street
Boca Raton, FL 33487
Ph: 561-869-0602
Fax: 561-869-0602
e-mail: jgladstone@americanroyalarts.com
www.americanroyalarts.com

 
Breaking News:
November 18, 2009
 
James Spence Authentication (JSA)
Simply No Excuse For All The Mistakes

We have not been publishing all the mistakes this company has made lately because we feel our readers got the message on this so called autograph authenticating group.

However, when a group like this hit’s a new low the story needs to be told. Currently listed on eBay item # 110412169299 for $499 is a letter said to be signed by Warren G. Harding.

ANYONE who collects items signed by the presidents of the United States would know that the signature on the bottom of this letter is secretarial. And a well documented secretary at that. Reference books on presidential autographs and educational articles have been written about this "very common" secretarial signature.

It certainly appears as if the authenticators at this company either just don’t care, do no research or are just dysfunctional.
 
 
 

Harding Secretarial Signature mis-authenticated by JSA and his team of authenticators
as an authentic Harding Signature



Illustrations of Harding Secretarial Signature and Authentic Signature from a common autograph reference book
 
It certainly appears this autograph authenticating business has become more of a scam than anything else.

JSA (James Spence) who likes to use the phrase "Follow the Leader" is not only responsible for this blunder but takes it one notch lower with extreme incompetence.

Look at the illustration of the signature closely. Notice the oval coloration starting at the capital "H" and ending near the "g" in Harding’s last name? One of the half wits working for Spence placed the JSA Certified sticker on the back of the Harding letter basically right over Harding’s signature.

By the way, the presidential/political authenticator for James Spence authentication is none other than John Reznikoff of University Archives. Anyone surprised?

Breaking News:
November 16, 2009
 
 
Roger Epperson's REAL Authentication Service Fails Miserably In Authenticating

Normally we don’t give space to all the little insignificant people in this hobby. However, when one attempts to enter the big leagues www.autographalert.com an educational site feels the autograph community needs to be informed.

Who is Roger Epperson? Recently, he is a new full page advertiser in Steve Cyrkin’s Autograph magazine. Epperson has also become a member of Cyrkin’s gang named the "White Hats." Well, here’s another member of the "White Hat" gang up to his neck in the dark stuff.

Epperson was once associated with PSA/DNA. According to him, he left PSA/DNA for two reasons. One was because he claims "they were very tough to get my money from." He also claims he caught one of the PSA/DNA authenticators doing something extremely unprofessional. Epperson was very specific about what he discovered the authenticator actually did but that’s for another story. Now Epperson has associated himself with JSA. Epperson is also supported by one auction house (RR Auction) even though the auction house has been notified by some in the autograph industry multiple times about Epperson’s credentials. We are talking about some of Epperson’s autograph credentials that he would not dare mention.

RR Auction who has been supporting Epperson and his authenticating company "REAL" has been removing from its auction sales on a fairly regular basis items that have been authenticated by Epperson. Not only is Epperson doing the music authentication for RR Auction, he is authenticating his own material and consigning items to RR Auctions.

The following Epperson blunder is nothing less than disgraceful. It clearly indicates his lack of knowledge, professionalism and that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

The following illustration is from a recent RR Action catalog. Item #714 Michael Jackson signed photo bidding ends November 11, 2009. Pre-certified by Epperson/Real and the usual rubber stamp RR Auction COA.
 
 
RR Auction Description:
Color glossy 8 x 10 photo of a younger Jackson posing with Kermit the Frog, nicely signed in gold ink. In very fine condition. Pre-certified Roger Epperson/REAL and RRAuction COA.

The illustration’s below were placed on Epperson’s website on November 3, 2009. Epperson states that Cyrkin (Autograph magazine) Grad (PSA/DNA) and Epperson are going to educate collectors on telling the good from the bad autographs of Michael Jackson. He also states he will be announcing the name of the forger. We can’t wait for this!


5 Michael Jackson illustrations of what Epperson claims are forged autographs
 
Please take note of what Epperson calls a fake Michael Jackson signed photograph. Compare it to the first illustration in this story. It is the identical photo that Epperson authenticated "as genuine." OOPS! Clearly, the value of an Epperson/Real COA is evident.

RR Auction, embarrassed once again by an Epperson’s mis-authentication has finally withdrawn the item from the sale. They say they are pending further review, duh!

How much more proof is needed that these self promoting authenticators just don’t know and are simply guessing? What possible excuse or spin will be made for this incompetence? The guy’s now got the nerve to call himself "Mr. Rock & Roll."

The hobby of autographs has been filled with fraud, corruption and autograph authenticating imposters. In addition, another of Cyrkin’s "White Hat" gang has basically lost his "White Hat" and sunk deep into the dark stuff. He recently finished his deposition and due in court soon. The information he divulged in his deposition is absolutely shocking. Details so unbelievable, and beyond anything you can ever imagine.

Much more to come!
Breaking News:
November 8, 2009
 
Autograph Media (Autograph) magazine
State of California Suspends License
 
 
The information displayed here is current as of "Nov 6 2009" and is updated weekly. It is not a complete or certified record of the Corporation.
 
Click on the name of the corporation for additional information.

 Corp Number  Date Filed

 Status

Corporation Name  
Agent for Service of Process
 C1845130 10/5/1992  

 suspended
 AUTOGRAPH MEDIA STEVEN LOUIS CYRKIN 
 
Suspended or Forfeited: The business entity's powers, rights and privileges were suspended or forfeited in California 1) by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to file a return and/or failure to pay taxes, penalties, or interest; and/or 2) by the Secretary of State for failure to file the required Statement of Information and, if applicable, the required Statement by Common Interest Development Association. Information regarding the type of suspension can be obtained by requesting



Breaking News:
November 2, 2009
 
 
Steve Cyrkin of Autograph magazine,
Suggest You Quit Your Day Job!

Hello readers of www.autographalert.com. Let me introduce myself. My name is Harris Schaller. I’m a long time autograph dealer, starting back in the 1970’s. I was quite active up through the 1990’s as a member of the ethics board for the IACC/DA. I understand this hobby and what I see going on by some of the new comers to this hobby (those entering in the last 20 years) is nothing less than deplorable.

There’s one fellow that stands out as one of the leading figures in this hobby for over forty years. His name is Steve Koschal. I have known him for many of those years. I have witnessed how he has worked tirelessly writing hundreds of educational articles and reference books that were published only to help educate the collectors and new dealers. I have watched him turn an autograph organization almost upside down single handedly all for the good of the hobby. Many of his complaints against the club have been corrected by the club. Unfortunately, whether it be because of embarrassment or just getting exposed, they hold a grudge instead of sending thanks.

The recent attack against Koschal by Steve Cyrkin of Autograph magazine was enough to bring me out of retirement. It is necessary to have an interview with Steve Koschal to hear what is really going on. After all, for those who know him, who knows the hobby better than Steve?



Harris Schaller with Steve Koschal and George and Helen Sanders
Schaller on the right, George in red, Koschal alongside George
 
The above illustration is published to show a documented background of Harris Schaller. This photo was taken on a cruise vessel on the way to a vacation in the Bahamas.

The Interview
Schaller: How’s the www.autographalert.com website progressing?
Koschal: More popular each day. It’s becoming difficult for us to maintain. Because of the amount of requests for information, collectors asking for reassurance about a dealer or auction house they may want to do some business. Filing the complaints against all the authenticators and a handful of sellers is also very time consuming. On the bright side, the site has a huge following of supporters. The following two emails are some of those that were receive on a daily basis:
1)
In a message dated 10/26/2009 7:32:27 PM Eastern Daylight Time, dominelli99@rogers.com writes:
To whom it may concern

I'am a collector & dealer from the Toronto area who has been doing this since 1990, I have been setting up at the Sports Card Expo (biggest show in Canada) for the past 18 years. I would be more than happy to promote your site at this years show which is nov 13,14,15 by way of flyers or pamphlets. If you are interested please LMK . I think your site is one every collector should know about.

cheers

2)
Subj: Great Job
Date: 10/26/2009 8:06:33 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: legendsofart@cox.net
To: autographalert@aol.com

I have been in the memorabilia business about 25 years as a manufacturer and wholesaler. I stopped buying autographs about 10 years ago because of the fakes that were predominant, Beatles, Stones, Elvis, Marilyn’s etc. My best story is when I still was still stupidly believing most pieces were real, I had a customer looking for a signed Marilyn and Clark Gable piece. I called a dealer in LA who said he had one. Next time I was in LA he showed me the piece. It was a poster signed by both of them for a JAPANESE movie poster. He gave me a certificate BY Donald Frangiapani which really made me laugh (Frank charged him 50.00 for the authentication by the way). On the back of the poster was the copyright date of 1980. The dealer did NOT tear the piece in front of me by the way. He also had about 25 signed Beatles albums. I don’t want to give his name out, I’m sure you know who he is. The UACC even threw him out.
 
Everything we do now is engraved facsimile autographs, wholesale to the trade, and I sleep better at night. If you want to see some of our work one of our retail customers shows its 3dpictureart.net
 
Of all the business experiences I have had in my life the worst part of it has been in the autograph portion, with its fake autographs, crooked dealers, and authenticators who don’t know what they are talking about. The worst thing that happens is greed takes over and one loses his principals.
 
Keep up the good work.
Joe Boiros

 

 

 
Schaller: What has happened to this once wonderful hobby of ours?
Koschal: It has been filled with corruption since the late 1980’s. The individuals doing fairly well are the educated collectors and dealers. The one’s who are making the most money are the corrupt. Many of the corrupt don’t want the collectors to understand the hobby. They want to control the collector with their game plan.

Schaller: Can you add some specifics?
Koschal: In my opinion this hobby has three major embarrassments. One of them is the existence of third party authenticators. I am not aware of one high profile authenticating company that can accurately authenticate an autograph. They don’t have employees on staff with autograph credentials. Some of the principals of these companies have been interviewed by the news media. The media has made them look like fools. If authenticating something "as genuine" the media has forged doesn’t make you look foolish then I don’t know what will convince you. I understand how incompetent these companies are, first hand. Most of them have asked for my assistance authenticating. When I understood how they operated, I would no longer have anything to do with them.

Schaller: How do these authenticating companies manage to stay alive?
Koschal: Only the uneducated collectors still think they need their autograph authenticated by one of these companies. It is my opinion when doing so, you might as well flush your $50 or more down the toilet. You only get a worthless "guess" or "opinion" backed by nothing! In most cases you will never know the individual who rendered the useless opinion. They hide behind a company name. A statement I said years ago seems to have stuck to the hobby. "Companies don’t authenticate autographs, people do!" As for staying alive, it’s hard to find a professional autograph dealer who promotes a third party authenticating company. These authenticating companies have been promoted by a handful of auction houses. The auction houses in many cases are taking consignments from the so called autograph authenticators. A horrific conflict of interest. In my opinion many of the auction houses are to blame and I believe many of them will be called out by name in the near future.
 
Schaller: Have you seen the recent statements by Steve Cyrkin in his November issue of Autograph magazine where he says some unfavorable things about you?
Koschal: If you are talking about his "Put On Your Seat Belt" it’s too late. The magazine has already crashed! He has published a few issues making statements and only focusing on people or autograph dealers he can’t control or against those who refuse to take an ad in his magazine or support the one autograph authenticating company he promotes. Cyrkin is not only getting desperate but now appears to be visionless.

Schaller: What started the recent attack against you by Steve Cyrkin of Autograph magazine? He claims in this November issue that you have added his name to an enemies list and he doesn’t know why.
Koschal: Cyrkin is very creative and seems to enjoy just making things up. He has said a lot of things which was just blowing smoke. It seems to me that when he opens his mouth its equivalent to someone else passing gas. For those who are International that follow this site and don’t understand what I meant, I’ll say it another way, when he opens his mouth, what comes out usually stinks!

Schaller: Since Cyrkin still says "he’s not sure" about why he’s ended up on your enemies list, can you tell him here?
Koschal: Enemies List? I don’t have an enemies list. This is just another Cyrkin fabrication. Cyrkin and a handful of others are attacking the legitimate dealers. The names of his few supporters can be found in every issue of his magazine. If I hear from these clowns one more time: "If you’re not with us you’re against us" I will scream. There’s a handful of people who think they are going to control this hobby. I have refused to join them and my goal is to continue to expose the hucksters, charlatans, snake oil salesmen, deceivers and we even have a few imposters in this hobby.

Schaller: Imposters?
Koschal: Absolutely. Just look at some of the names working for the autograph authenticating companies. What else can you call them? They are impersonating an autograph authenticator.

Schaller: Do you see anything positive coming out of all this?
Koschal: Absolutely. One major accomplishment was getting the website www.autograhalert.com mentioned in Autograph magazine. Cyrkin won’t tell anyone the number of subscribers he has but it is believed by many that www.autographalert.com gets two to two and a half times the visits then he has subscribers. It’s still nice to see his handful of readers learn about this website. Also positive, his magazine was recently called "a sinking ship" by a very high profile autograph dealer who just recently dropped their full page ad.

Schaller: Do you agree with the dealer’s statement that Autograph magazine is a sinking ship?
Koschal: Absolutely, I’ve seen the writing on the wall for some time. So have many others. Since Cyrkin took over the magazine, I would not write an article for them. I thought about it once during the 911 incident but changed my mind. I didn’t want my name associated with the magazine.

Schaller: Do you have other concerns about with the magazine?
Koschal: The same concerns I hear from many others. Cyrkin bought a company named Starbrite. Cyrkin was now in competition with his handful of advertisers. Many were screaming foul, a horrific conflict of interest. With the company came some very bad autographs. I don’t know how many people have told me they contacted Cyrkin about the bad autographs he was listing for sale in his own magazine. Even as late as a few weeks ago Cyrkin admits to knowing about the forgeries in his inventory and even knowing who the forger is. I can’t and won’t comment about modern day autographs but a fellow who only deals in modern celebrities said in a September 14th email "Steve (Cykin)is the last person who would be an authority on autographs."

Cyrkin gave me the opinion that cleaning up his inventory isn’t taken seriously. In an email Cyrkin sent on Oct. 11 about how he handled the forgeries in his inventory his reply was "I fed them to my goat. I hope he didn’t sell them behind my back..???"

Many others are disgusted with Cyrkin and his quasi journalism. There are at least two people I know of at this time that want to try and start up a reputable autograph magazine. One is trying to get a list of writers to commit to the magazine and the other is still trying to figure out the finances.

Schaller: That makes it pretty clear what you think Cykin is all about as a dealer. What about Cyrkin the person?
Koschal: Unfortunately very recently he opened his big mouth and it spewed a very anti-Semitic remark that will follow him forever. By now everyone must know he called the President of an Autograph company, who happens to be Jewish "a kike." If you think this was dumb, he did this in writing. It doesn’t end here. I just received a copy of an email that was sent from one dealer to another. This is word for word from the email: "…I had a problem with one of his (Cyrkins) employees who was trying to blackmail me into buying autographs for me to resale. It got to the point where this employee (Mike Aring) was making crazy accusations and racial remarks in reference to my wife (who is African American.) When I complained to Cyrkin, he took the employee’s story at face value…but when he wanted me to run an ad in the magazine, I refused….thus, he started to make comments about my business."

Let me mention an email from a collector named Michael Hollenbeck. The following is a partial quote: "…I was condemned by Cyrkin for being against illegal aliens and my feelings on gay marriage. He is very narrow minded and it’s either his way or no way. His (Cyrkin‘s) daughter is a lesbian and he says that he is very proud of her and that he is looking forward to being a grandfather of three children. I tried to tell him that you can’t have a child unless a man is involved and he cancelled my subscription to his magazine. The guy is a wacko and it’s no reason his rag is going under. He has no problem of condemning anyone who doesn’t agree with him…."

Schaller: Can there be anymore said about Cyrkin?
Koschal: Enough to fill a book. Instead of using his magazine to attack galleries who refuse to use PSA/DNA (he co founded the parent company and is presently a stockholder) he could have used the magazine in a positive way to help educate collectors. For example, there have been a handful of wonderful autograph reference books that got excellent reviews in the Manuscript Society magazine. The book reviewer for Autograph magazine has submitted the reviews to Cyrkin. Steve Cyrkin won’t mention them in his magazine. Over the years, www.autograhalert.com has received numerous requests for additional information about learning more on this hobby. An Internet Autograph Course was created and posted on this website. It has become extremely popular around the world. Collectors and dealers are continually taking the course and request the Certificate of Completion. Cyrkin got a copy of the news release for the course an refused to publish it. This guy has a serious problem trying to separate collectors from educational material.

Schaller: Getting back to Cyrkin’s message in his November issue about you. If he went wrong in his statements, can you tell us where he got off the track?
Koschal: You can start with his first paragraph. Calling himself the good guy. He calls the dark side of the hobby the forgers and sellers of questionable autographs and those of ill intent. To find them, all one needs to do is thumb through the pages of his magazine and look at some of the names in those pages. One is an authenticating company (which he co founded the parent company) that has placed many thousands of forged, rubber stamped, preprinted and secretarial signatures and passed them as genuine. Add insult to injury, try to estimate how many good signatures were failed by this company? Guess how many emails were sent to the Chairman of the Board of that company asking him to confirm that one of their lead authenticators was physically removed from the National Sports Convention in Chicago for selling numerous forged autographs? There was no response, yet this person who was removed from the Convention was asked in a court deposition if he was removed from the convention for selling forged autographs. His response: "I don’t recall." He’s still authenticating for the company. Cyrkin must be proud of those who follow him wearing the White Hats.

Another full page advertiser is about be exposed, big time. It is so revealing I’m afraid some may leave the hobby after reading it. You certainly will not be buying any rock and roll autographs from this advertiser. The advertiser is well aware of the article about to be published and he is fighting back very dirty. They have little or nothing in defense so are getting personal. They are attacking on issues that have nothing to do with the hobby. One of Cyrkin’s lowlifes has posted false and imaginary stories about what was said by my mother said on her deathbed. How can any collector, dealer or auction house continue to associate with the likes of these unsavory characters?

Cyrkin has another full page advertiser by the name of RR Auction. Simply put aside all the non genuine autographs this auction house has sold but take a look at one of the authenticators they utilize. His name is Scott Cornish. Go to www.autographalert.com, past articles, April 2, 2008. Read the email Scott Cornish sent to a competitive authenticator based in Germany. I part it reads: "…no wonder Hitler took over your country…it’s not like y’all are still making lampshades out of human skin or smashing babies heads against brick walls…you have no clue how ugly I can get…." Under pressure RR Auction fired Cornish but an RR insider told us that it was just until things cooled down. Cornish would be back. Indeed he is back working for RR Auction. This is just another example of hate, anti Semitism and racism that can be found associated with Autograph magazine. You know, who Cyrkin calls the "good guys" who wear the white hats.

Like Cyrkin, much of what is said by his few followers is just creating things that come to mind. Incredibly embarrassing is a full page ad in Cyrkin’s magazine from a person/company which should be listed in a Guinness Book of Autograph Records. Well documented they took part the largest sale in autograph history of forged autographs. Sold was eight million dollars of fake Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy signatures. Can you guess how many refunds were given by Cyrkin’s advertiser? Years ago, Mormon forger Mark Hoffman held the record of selling three million dollars worth of forgeries. Today Cyrkin’s full page advertiser, John Reznikoff has taken part in breaking that record. This is just anther Cyrkin "good guy" wearing a white hat.

It is absolutely evident to become a Cyrkin "good guy wearing a white hat" all you need to do is take a full page ad in his magazine. It doesn’t matter if you make anti Semitic statements, associate yourself with racists and those who sell non genuine autographs, and forgeries.

Cyrkin continues his fantasy that this website is written anonymously by me. He doesn’t know this for a fact. He puts in print what he chooses to believe. Yes, I am one of the cofounders of this site. We all try to remain anonymous for good reason. We receive threats from those we expose. Very recently one of those full page Cyrkin advertisers has sent me several emails requesting my home address. The person trying to locate me has been associated with violence in the past. A gun was involved!

Cyrkin poorly attempts to convince his readers that "even good authenticators make mistakes." Some say the rate of mistakes made by these "good" authenticators is 50%. They are either right or wrong.

Cyrkin continues to make false statements by saying I try to discredit the UACC. All I have tried to do is clean up the mess inside the club. I invite anyone to look at our files of complaints from the UACC club members. Many of the complaints have been against Board Members and Board Member dealers. You will find it hard to believe what you read. Worse is the lack of action taken by the club. They recently claim they are coming out of a financial disaster. Did anyone other than those on the Board know there was a financial disaster? I may just post an email from a collector who attempted to join the UACC. The content is shocking! Anyway, many collectors thought the UACC folded near the end of last year. No magazines were published for several months. What happened to all that member dues money that was not spent printing and mailing all the magazines? It doesn’t end, just look at the dealer listing. It didn’t take me long to find a dealer listed who has been dead for a few years. Worse is informing the membership of misinformation.

Cyrkin continues his rant "When customers ask about reputable authenticators many of these dealers send them to Autograph Alert, to scare them away…to convince them to use forensic document examiners…." This is another Crykin creation, quasi journalism, possibly caused by eating a bad batch of mushrooms. When he comes down from his trip, Cyrkin needs to read the stories on this site. Who in their right mind would use what he calls reputable authenticators to examine an autograph? No one I know that has been educated. Try to find one story on this site where ANY forensic document examiner has been promoted. Cyrkin is obviously still seeing and hearing apparitions.

Cyrkin continues with rage stating this site: "publishes articles filled with false and misleading information." Not once has he contacted this site based on that statement. Again, creative writing, quasi journalism. By now an intelligent reader has to see though his nonsense and the damage he is causing. Still heaving he continues: "Now several sellers of forgeries have threatened to contact Autograph Alert, so other negative stories can be written about us." Did this gimmick, quasi journalism, lead you to believe he is now a victim? This is totally made up unless he is in contact and shares information with known forgers. I can assure you not one forger has contacted me, they know better! At his point the readers of his column must be soporific. Stay awake, he gets meshuga!

Cyrkin attempting to fly high, finally hit’s a nerve. He opens up on some books I have sold or offered for sale. This man clearly has little or no experience with autographs and foolishly believed his trusted incompetent sources that fed him bad information.

Schaller: I can’t let you get away with teasing me with bits and pieces of Cyrkin hitting a nerve. Please elaborate?
Koschal: I said before when Crykin opens his mouth what comes out usually stinks. This ordeal he has helped fabricate is a perfect example. Cyrkin started his attack on me after I exposed his anti-Semitic statement. He was bent on finding or creating something wrong that I did and publish it. He wanted to get back at me at all costs and this will cost him a bundle. I was part of a deal where three signed Charles M. Russell books were purchased. I personally authenticated the signatures and hand drawn sketches by Russell as genuine. I was convinced they were genuine at the time of purchase and easily confirmed this when I got back to my office. These books were purchased from a lovely library in a Palm Beach Estate. The estate was looking for someone to sell the contents and I was invited to go along to look at what the estate said had a library of books and framed autographs many relating to Charles M. Russell. Framed on the walls of the library were handwritten letters and signed photographs of Russell. The person who was to handle the estate could not come to an agreement about the value of the contents of the home but for our time spent at the home we were permitted to outright purchase a few items. Among the items were three thin books in wrappers. Two books were signed by Russell and he added his famous steer skull sketch. One was in pencil the other in ink. The third book contained a pencil presentation inscription signed by Russell in which he added his steer skull sketch. The person who was to run the estate sale chose the book which was signed in ink. I bought the two with the signatures signed in pencil. One of these books I consigned to Alexander Autographs, October 2008 auction. Alexander Autographs has their own in house autograph experts for Americana related material and accepted the book. This book did not sell as the reserve price was not met.
 
The second book, inscribed. was sold to Todd Mueller Autographs. Mr. Mueller decided to consign his book to RR Auctions and added a book signed by Salvador Dali that also included an original sketch. Bob Eaton of RR Auctions returned the books to Mueller stating he did not want to put the books in his sale. When asked specifically why, Eaton said that John Reznikoff said they were no good. Mueller asked Eaton if Reznikoff just saw scans of the books and Eaton’s reply was Reznikoff did not see scans or the books. Mueller called Reznikoff on the phone. He asked Reznikoff how could he comment of something he didn’t see? Reznikoff’s reply: "I knew the origin of those books were from Steve Koschal, I guess I just wanted them to be bad!"

Word got out the books were not accepted for RR Auction but the guys who say they wear the White Hats will continue to make major fools of themselves. I got emails from Roger Epperson (full page advertiser in Autograph magazine) demanding to know where I got the books. First he said he heard I got them from the Russell Estate, then he changed his story to the Russell library. In his crazed state he was all over the place. They were out to get Koschal. Epperson continued, I needed to tell him my source of those books. I need to come up with a receipt. He continued "the books are not real." With his blood boiling and thought to be hot on my trail he sent me several emails each day. In another email Epperson goes on to say that I’m not going to get away with trying to legitimize the books by trying to sell them through other dealers. Cyrkin gets on the band wagon also demanding to know where the books came from and that I need to supply him with my receipt of purchase. If I can’t do this then I am the forger according to Cyrkin. They even created stories about things that never happened. For instance they started the rumor that Todd Mueller asked me for a refund and I refused. These people are not only desperate but evil. Mueller from day one knew his book was genuine, never tried to return the book and never asked for a refund. Just ask him! I just let Cyrkin and Epperson continue to make fools of themselves.

Next I was told that the book I gave to Alexander Autographs was a fake. So what Cyrkin and Epperson were now saying is that Alexander Autographs tried to sell a fake book in their auction. They said I was putting words in their mouth. So it seems to be left, if I was selling the book is was fake, but not when Alexander autographs was selling it. That issue was dropped so fast, they new they screwed up.

Not Epperson nor Cyrkin knew that Reznikoff was the one who made the foolish comment that the books were fake. I asked in several emails who said the books were fake. No one could answer me because it was all rumor they created. I would no longer answer to Epperson or Cyrkin and took their emails as insults.

RR Auction, Roger Epperson and John Reznikoff were some of Cyrkin’s trusted sources. All of them full page advertisers in Autograph magazine.

The venom continues to fly. Either Epperson or Cyrkin passes on their fabricated story of the forged books to the boys at the UACC. Does it surprise anyone that all this mis information gets posted on the UACC website? Talk about irresponsibility. "More About the forged C M Russell Autographs" heads their gossip column. This club continues that well known auction firms (known but just maybe not respected) around the country are discovering the Russell books are forgeries. All are in pencil (not true) and all include a small drawing. All are dedicated like our sample to the right (not true only one was dedicated) "But the fact is that the only thing original are the books these forged signatures appear. All the forgeries are coming from a single source out of Miami, Florida." HOW CAN ANY CLUB BE SO STUPID TO PUT SUCH FALSE INFORMATION ON THEIR WEBSITE WITHOUT DOING A SECOND OF RESEARCH? They simply trusted their sources who Cyrkin claims wear the White Hats. If Cyrkin still thinks all his followers including himself are wearing White Hats, the only explanation for this is Cyrkin is wearing a patch over his good eye!
 
The UACC continues: "The consigner when contacted said he would provide proof." False, the consigner never said he would provide proof. If that was done this foolishness, unprofessionalism and quasi-journalism would never have been exposed.
 
 
Illustration of the inscribed copy the UACC chose to use, without permission
 
Schaller: Wow! A remarkable story with what appears to be a total embarrassment to the guys who say they wear the White Hats. The story on the books is simply outstanding. What was the final out come of the book the UACC illustrated on their website?
Koschal: While these books were getting their days of fame I took the opportunity to contact the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. I asked them if they had any information on the individual the book was inscribed to that was illustrated on the UACC website. On Sept. 28 I received the following response from Sharon McGowan from the Frederic G. Renner Library at the C.M. Russell Museum.
"Dear Mr. Koschal, Charlie Russell and Con Kelley, chairman of the very powerful mining corporation Anaconda Copper Mine, were close acquaintances and hunting companions. Russell did a painting for the mantle at Kelley’s Kootenai Lodge."
Wish I knew this valuable information before I sold the book to Todd Mueller!

Schaller: Will this insanity ever stop?
Koschal: Probably not unless I get an apology from Cyrkin and the UACC. I think the person at the UACC responsible for this (of course name unknown) needs to also apologize to their membership for feeding them erroneous information.
 
Schaller: I can hear in your voice you are getting tired anything to say in closing?
Koschal: Since I ran down Cyrkin’s list of misinformation I should close with his same thoughts. "Things may get rocky, in the end all will be fine." I totally agree, it will all end well as the ones who claim to wear the White Hats continue to get exposed for what they are. Cyrkin has left the Titanic and is in a lifeboat that is taking on water. Continue to watch the sinking boat, he tried to convince his subscribers to pay the same for six less issues which I think lasted for one month. Where’s the better stories we were promised? What really happened to Crykin’s website and his four pages of ads for his "only in person" autographs? What happened to the advertisers? One advertiser had two full pages in each issue, for free, and dropped out. Imagine how bad it is to drop two pages of free ads. One of the advertisers, who has had the back page of the magazine for as long as I can remember finally gave up the magazine. What do the subscribers get for reading some of the trash, misinformation, creative writing and quasi journalism not to mention some very bad addresses in the magazine? They get rewarded with a thirty percent increase in subscription rates. The rates went from $29.95 to $39.95. Thank You, Mr. Cyrkin!
I still believe the bulk of the people in this hobby are good people with the right intentions. Many have strong religious beliefs. I can’t see how they can continue to support his magazine. I can’t see how many of the advertisers will want to associate themselves with Autograph.

One more lesson to be learned, if you agree with Cyrkin that there are these reputable autograph authenticators he promotes (especially the one he has a financial gain when their stock goes up) you’ll be happy to know of what they believe to be an advance in the process of authenticating made by one high profile authenticator. The new authentication process is …we don’t have to see a scan of the signature or actually see the item, just tell us where you got it. If the submitter is not with us, their against us, so the item will not be authenticated as genuine. Thanks to John Reznikoff and his uncanny ability to get it wrong again, and for passing judgement on an item he didn’t see and for starting what has been called by some a war!


 
Breaking News:
October 23, 2009
 
PSA/DNA COA and Their Considered
Opinion of Experts Flunk in Court

The following is an email received from a professional dealer in boxing autographs. A collector who purchased a high end signed photograph from this dealer sent the photo to PSA/DNA for their "opinion" or "best guess." The so called "experts" at PSA/DNA failed the item.
 
Email as sent to www.autographalert.com:
 
Subj: Re: lawsuit/ruling in our favor 2
Date: 10/20/2009 1:12:08 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: fighttoys@nycap.rr.com
To: Autographalert@aol.com

Autograph Alert,
I’d like to thank you for providing me with evidence to prove the incompetence of third party authenticators. I recently had a civil lawsuit filed against me where the sole piece of evidence was a rejection letter from PSA/DNA denouncing an autograph I sold. I actually printed some posts off your site (5/29/09, 5/11/09, 5/5/09, 12/6/08, 12/1/08, 8/8/08, 12/10/07, 5/23/06) and presented as evidence in court along with a long list of exemplars of the subjects handwriting. Together, with the proof of this company’s incompetence and with a signature comparison of my item to a long list of authentic exemplars, I obtained a ruling in my favor. I was expecting the plaintiff to provide evidence from their authenticator, perhaps authentic exemplars and an explanation as to the discrepancies, but the only thing that was provided was this letter. My attorney pointing out there is no evidence contained in the so-called document and it states “opinion” in it by their own admission. I’ve been a longtime collector and dealer of autographs pertaining only to the sport of professional boxing and do a thorough inspection before obtaining and offering each signed item for sale. I’ve been filing exemplars and studying the hobby for quite awhile before these authenticating companies existed. The legitimacy of the item I sold was never in question to me so rather than giving in to a demand for a refund I decided to take a 4 hour and 15 minute drive (one way) to defend my name. I paid $500 for the attorney and spent $150 on gas and tolls but the experience and outcome is priceless to me. I’ve never had a complaint about the authenticity of an item I’ve sold and I knew very little about these third party authenticators until this matter arose. I was fortunate to discover your web site while searching for evidence of this company’s incompetence. I guess you could say I hit the mother-load here. I just can’t understand how an authenticator can be considered legitimate when their company provides no explanation or evidence to support their claim. Feel free to use any and all information/photos provided if you think it will be informative to your readers.

For additional information go to: http://www.fighttoys.com/lawsuit.htm


The following names are those listed on the PSA/DNA website as their autograph experts.

Steve Grad
James Camner
Bob Eaton
T.J. Kaye
Kevin Keating
Kevin Low
John Reznikoff
Zach Rullo
Bob Zafian

The PSA/DNA Letter of Authentication states "…..it is our considered opinion…."

Repeatedly it has been proven to trust your professional autograph dealer or auction house who guarantees what they offer. There is still a handful who don’t want to stand behind what they offer for sale and hide behind the "opinions" or "guesses" of third party autograph authenticating companies. This avoids responsibility. If the dealer or auction house will not stand behind what they sell then these are the dealers and auction houses to avoid.

Breaking News:
October 15, 2009
 
 
Steve Cyrkin, Publisher of Autograph Magazine
calls American Royal Arts President a "kike".


Only a handful of collectors and dealers are aware of the current autograph war that is presently going on.

It is believed by many much of the autograph fraud, selling forgeries, authenticating items never examined and authenticating signatures on items as genuine on pieces that were produced years after the celebrity has passed on will be exposed shortly. This has been allowed to exist buy autograph publications, a handful of dealers and some auction houses who specialize in autographs.

Some of the self promoting well recognized names in autograph collecting and autograph authenticating are involved. The information coming in daily is ugly.

As some of you already are aware Steve Cyrkin owner and publisher of Autograph collector magazine and owner of the mysteriously removed website of Starbrite is very much involved. Even Cyrkin’s usual four page ads in his own magazine for Starbrite have been removed.

Cyrkin’s comments in two past issues of his column "Inscription" about Frank Ciaizzo and American Royal Art in Florida are well know.

Steve Cyrkin is a co-founder of Collector’s Universe parent company of PSADNA based in California. He is still part owner of this publicly traded company on NASDAQ. Their symbol is "CLCT."

On October 13, 2009 an email was sent to Steve Cyrkin from autograph dealer Mike Frost. Mike asked Cyrkin if his attacks on Jerry Gladstone of American Royal Arts are based on him being Jewish. See illustration of email below.
    Email from Mike Frost (Whoodee711) to Cyrkin of Autograph Magazine
     
    From: Whoodee711@aol.com [mailto:Whoodee711@aol.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 10:59 AM
    To: steve.cyrkin@autographcollector.com
    Subject: Re: Authentication Fraud

    Steve ,

    Confidentially (NO copy here)

    Is the problem you have with Jerry based on him being Jewish????????

 

 
The response from Cyrkin, just two hours later is beyond unbelievable:
.
    Email response from Steve Cyrkin, Publisher of Autograph Magazine
     
    From: steve.cyrkin@autographcollector.com
    To: Whoodee711@aol.com
    Sent: 10/13/2009 02:02:08 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
    Subj: RE: Authentication Fraud
     
    Why would I care if he’s a kike?

    Steve Cyrkin
    Publisher
    Autograph Magazine
    The Sanders Autograph Price Guide
    www.autographmagazine.com
    Toll-free: 800.996.3977 x107
    Direct: 310.995.9338
    Direct Fax: 714.242.2098
    Customer Service Fax: 714.459.5063
    600 Anton Blvd., 11th Floor
    Costa Mesa, CA 92626

 

 
Cyrkin’s statement cannot be interpreted any other way than being a "racist" statement.

This statement is shocking and offensive to all collectors, dealers, authenticators and auction houses that has seen an advanced copy of this information. Readers and advertisers of Autograph Magazine will most likely be equally offended.

Breaking News:
October 6, 2009
 
 
Vernon Wells Notifies Collectors of
www.autographalert.com


Vernon Wells, actor in over 60 movies. Played alongside Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2 and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando, has a word for collectors.
 
 
  

Breaking News:
September 29, 2009
 
UACC Threatens to Shut Down www.autographalert.com

The UACC apparently is unhappy with www.autographalert.com and has sent an email to the host of this website: "about taking action against the company or individuals who host the autograph alert website." The email, filled with untruths and created fantasies, comes from an Al Wittnebert.

Readers and supporters of www.autographalert.com have become outraged upon learning of this recent threat. We are not sure what article on this site has ruffled their feathers. However, as mentioned on the homepage of this site it clearly states if someone feels information posted is not correct, let the site know for a possible correction. The UACC has not contacted this site.

The UACC has long been concerned about those, including their own members, who voice their concerns about the club. A couple of years ago, the Board voted to sanction it’s own members who speak out with what the Board feels are untrue, unfounded or frivolous comments on an internet forum or website which the Board feels targets the club.

While attempting to smother the voice of its membership, voting on subjects like this one, you can understand why the UACC has had its share of problems which has affected its membership.

Have you ever noticed how many of this industry's major long time dealers are not members of the UACC? There are many valid reasons for not wanting to be associated with this group. In January 2008, the president of the UACC was running for re-election. He said he wanted to double the UACC membership in the next four years.

Well, it’s nearly two years later and finally he admits in his new message on the club website that the club’s magazine readership is at an all time low. If all the members get a copy of the club magazine then what he is stating is membership is at an all time low.

If membership is at an all time low, it certainly appears the autograph community is making a statement and the Board of Directors just don’t get it. In that same message the president of the club refers to the cub’s detractors. He makes it sound that if you question the UACC you become in their view a "dysfunctional nay sayers". With this attitude it’s no wonder there is a continued membership problem.

Not long ago in the May/June 2008 issue of the club journal the club president states that the New Pen and Quill is on its way to a banner year. Didn’t take long for the journal to disappear. What happened to the Nov/Dec 2008 issue? How about the Jan/Feb 09 or the Mar/Apr 09 or the May/June 09 and the Jul/Aug 09 issues? Finally a Fall 09 issue and we read that the crisis and panic is over. Did you know there was a crisis and panic and belt tightening was needed? Belt tightening? Members paid their yearly dues and lost a handful of magazines. The club must have saved a huge sum of money not publishing a magazine for several months, not to mention the savings from the cost of postage.

As for the club members who still stick with this club remember what the club president said in his Jan/Feb 2008 message to the membership and that is that you all have a chance to vote for the people who can take the club into the future. The above few paragraphs are the future!

www.autographalert.com receives complaints about the UACC on a regular basis. Some of the content in the complaints is almost unbelievable. For the good of the hobby, www.autographalert.com is working on suggestions on how to improve this club. Suggestions, that if implemented, will attract many of those who have left the club over the last ten years and also attract new members. These ideas will be presented to the UACC Board of Directors via this website at a later date.

Breaking News:
September 22, 2009
 
John Reznikoff of University Archives
Is back in the news and it’s not good!

With Reznikoff’s horrific background dealing in JFK related material you would think this guy would not want to be within 100 feet of anything related to JFK.

Headlines at CNN Politics.com "FBI seizes letter from Jackie Kennedy to RFK’s widow." The Dallas Morning News: "FBI Investigates Jackie Kennedy letter at Dallas Auction company."

This case centers around a handwritten letter of condolence that Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy sent to Ethel Kennedy. The letter was sent shortly after Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

How did this letter enter the autograph community? It came from the home of a Russell T. Nuckols, a plumber who at one time worked at the Kennedy family home. Nuckols passed away in January 1999. His son, Thomas Nuckols discovered the letter while going through his father’s papers. According to an FBI affidavit, it states: "Thomas Nuckols was dumbfounded upon discovery of the letter because he had never seen it before and did not know how it came into his father’s possession."

Thomas Nuckols contacts John Reznikoff of University Archives in Westport, Connecticut.

Picture the average dealer being offered this historical and extremely valuable letter from a stranger. The letter begins: "My Ethel" and Jackie expresses concern for Ethel’s health and for her children. Jackie continues: "I stayed up till 6.30 last night just thinking and praying for you."

We asked several dealers and an auction house what they would have done if offered this unique letter. Basically they all said the same thing just using different words. "I would have called the FBI (or law enforcement) the letter is obviously stolen." Or "The letter is hot, the Kennedy family would never part with that letter, it would be part of the RFK papers, call the police."

Reznikoff chose to take another path. He decided to purchase the letter. To make an offer for the letter Reznikoff had to know what he thought he could eventually get for it. Reznikoff paid $6,000 for the letter and resold the letter to a New Hampshire collector for $25,000. Fair dealings for a letter of such historical significance?

Autograph price guides will tell you a fair offer from a dealer would be half. That equates to $12,500 and not $6,000. So, the entire ordeal went down privately and quietly. However those in the business know that nothing stays buried forever. How many of you have heard from a dealer "I’m buying it for my private collection" and the letter turns up at auction in several months.

The letter did exchange hands through a few other collectors until a collector decided to consign the Jackie letter to Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas. Max Kennedy, son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy learned of the letters whereabouts. He claims that his family have never given, loaned or sold the note to anyone. Max stated: "It’s a personal possession of my mother and obviously extremely personal."

We think readers of www.autographalert.com would have to agree. When this letter was offered, law enforcement should have been called!

In a telephone interview with The News, Reznikoff said he was not at his office and did not have access to his files. Reznikoff continued that he vaguely recalled that Thomas Nuckols told him that Ethel Kennedy boxed up some belongings one day and told his father that he could haul them away. "A whole bunch of things were being discarded, and she said just keep them," Reznikoff said.

FBI Agent Skillestad’s affidavit says, "Thomas Nuckols was dumbfounded upon discovery of the letter because he had never seen it before and did not know how it came into his father’s possession."

Now whose story are we to believe, the UACC’s choice of "Dealer of the Year" John Reznikoff or Thomas Nuckols?


 
Breaking News:
September 17, 2009
 
 
Autograph Authenticators Bashing Each Other

It certainly appears some of those who call themselves autograph authenticators are beginning to implode.
www.autographalert.com has a file of emails from those who have been hired or working as consultant autograph authenticators. Some are bashing competitors or other authenticators in their own company. Roger Epperson seems to be on attack and is recently bashing competitive authenticators such as Christopher Morales and Mike Frost of PAAS.

In a recent email to www.autographalert.com Epperson writes: "….there are more than 2 high profile companies passing of garbage and the third is your old company PASS. I have plenty of proof on them…..the lead authenticator (Mike Frost) is the president of your old autograph association.." Whew!

If you think this guy sounds bitter, here’s the topper. You may recall reading on baseball websites scathing emails from a foul mouth person who claims to be an autograph authenticator. His name is Rick Giddings and goes under the email Pirate8@aol.com and sometimes tries to hide his identity under the email Migetwitapistol@aol.com

Some of his emails cannot be reproduced because of the foul language but the following email he sent to www.autographalert.com for publication.

We reprint the email, the spelling is exactly as it was received.
Subj: Resignation---Giddings leaves GAI (Global Authentication).
From: Pirate8@Aol.com
To Autographalert

Here is a real story for you!
As of yesterday Rick Giddings, vintage authenticator and owner of Gizmo’s Sportscards resigned from GAI!
Reasons
1. There name carrys a bad taste in industry and will not let my company be associated with that
2. Terrible management of people inside an out
3. Egos---wow--got a couple of guys there, with egos larger then the world
4. Too many guys, that claim there experts, who made Steve Sipe an expert, he can’t even get Jordan or woods right? And hes in charge of authentication?
5. I just pray, Baker and Rocchi get out before the ship sinks
Thanks, Giz

‘thats enough for me, how many more guys will leave, Priddy-authenticator, Smith-pack grader, Hammond-ex ceo, Flynn-encapsulator, GAI is a joke in my opinion.

 

 
In a separate email, the language too foul to reproduce Gidding’s dumps on other authenticators as well. He especially singles out an authenticator of racing autographs.

Gidding’s continues: "..and in my eyes, racing is not a sport and your little buddy in Tennessee don’t know shit about it anyways…"


Breaking News:
September 5, 2009
 
 
John Reznikoff, UACC Dealer of the Year..
Oops!


We meant to write this article earlier in the year but haven’t stopped laughing long enough to put pen to paper. Our opinion is that the statement "John Reznikoff, UACC Dealer Of The Year" could easily win an award for the funniest autograph related line of the year. It certainly has kept us energized for the last several months.
How would you like to have been a fly on the wall in the room of the UACC "officials" and hear the real reasons why Mr. Reznikoff was chosen?

This hilarious announcement was placed on the UACC website as they have not issued a club magazine since last year for their paid members.

The UACC simply makes the statement with no reasons for their choice!

www:autographalert.com decided to research its own files on Mr. Reznikoff’s accomplishments simply to confirm he is worthy of the title.

On his own website he is not truthful about the amount of years he spent in college. This is the very first thing he lists on his resume.

Mr. Reznikoff was involved in the largest autograph forgery scandal in the 20th century. Over 7 million dollars in forged Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy items were sold. No record of refunds are to be found. Mr. Reznikoff turned on his partner to help save himself. His partner went to prison.

After the Monroe/JFK scandal, Reznikoff continues to make mistakes on signed JFK items and secretarial signed letters. Some of these items authenticated by Reznikoff have been withdrawn from auctions.

Many, many more items in other fields authenticated by Reznikoff have been pulled from auctions. For many of them there was no excuse except for incompetence. One item, authenticated by Reznikoff as genuine, said to be signed by Samuel Colt was not. Another error appeared in a Heritage auction where Reznikoff authenticates a document signed by the noted witchcraft judge, Samuel Sewall. The document was actually signed by his son.

Reznikoff was selling a Ronald Reagan photograph that contained one of the most common Autopen signatures of Reagan. This can be found in almost any autopen reference book. He was told this by a recognized expert in presidential signatures. Reznikoff’s lame excuse in three words: "new employee, thanks." This man will not take responsibility.

Over the Monroe/JFK forgery incident, Mr. Reznikoff wrote a letter of resignation to PADA, an autograph organization he co founded. Hs resignation was accepted.

At one time, the US had only four autograph organizations. A second club, The International Autograph Collectors Club and Dealers Alliance received a serious complaint against Mr. Reznikoff. Upon Mr. Reznikoff being notified of the complaint, he sent in his resignation letter. It was refused by the ethics board. After an investigation, the Chairman of the ethics board notified Mr. Reznikoff that his membership in the club has been terminated. That’s two out of the four clubs he could not be a member.

Mr. Reznikoff is on the staff of most of the companies who claim to authenticate and he has made some very inexcusable errors. Some of his mistakes are legendary.

Mr. Reznikoff stated in writing that a famous John Hancock forgery, made by the Mormon forger "looks good." Any novice could have gone to Charles Hamilton’s book and see an almost identical item was illustrated in the book. The value placed on the item by a dealer now thinking it was genuine was $150,000. Oops!
Mr. Reznikoff was selling a signature of George III. The signature was his typical scrawl while he was blind. Unable to read the signature, Mr. Reznikoff illustrates the signature on his website upside down.

Mr. Reznikoff listed on his website a signature of Margaret Mitchell of Gone With The Wind fame. However he illustrates a signature of actress Maggie Mitchell. When advised of his error he demanded proof that he was wrong. The seasoned and industry accepted autograph experts word was not enough. Exemplars were sent of both Mitchell’s and the item was eventually removed from Reznikoff’s website.

Mr. Reznikoff authenticated as genuine a hand written presidential oath of office of Ronald Reagan. Over thirty words in Reagan’s hand and signed and he got it wrong not once but twice. He was advised of the problem and still felt it was good until it was proven to him by going over the forgery word by word.

Mr. Reznikoff tried to sell a pamphlet said to be signed by rocket pioneer Tsiolkovsky. In actuality, the pamphlet only contained a few words in his hand, in Russian, with NO SIGNATURE. This is obvious that Reznikoff had no clue as to what a signature of Tsiolkovsky looks like.

Mr. Reznikoff was involved in selling the forged Elvis Presley lyrics. He did make at least one sizable refund to a well known powerful dealer.

Mr. Reznikoff for a Mastro Auction authenticated as genuine a common Andrew Johnson document containing a "stamped" signature of Johnson. This stamped signature is very common. It is well documented and known to every professional who handles presidential signatures.

Mr. Reznikoff authenticated two Gerald R. Ford machine signed signatures as authentic for another Mastro auction.

Reznikoff sold a Rogers Hornsby signature. The dealer who bought it attempted to sell it on eBay. The item was kicked off eBay because the signature of Hornsby was determined not genuine.

Mr. Reznikoff has made authenticating decisions on autographs without seeing the item just based on how he personally feels about the dealer.

Mr. Reznikoff has threatened a few dealers in writing. Because of his reputation, another dealer has dubbed Mr. Reznikoff with the nickname "Rezbollah".

Mr. Reznikoff told numerous newspapers that he purchased the hair of Neil Armstrong. This has been proven wrong. He barber sold the hair to another dealer and www.autographalert.com has posted the cancelled check for the hair on a previous story. When the barber was asked about Mr. Reznikoff his response was "I never heard of him."

Mr. Reznikoff purchased 1,000 clipped signatures from a noted dealer. The signatures were to be sold to a well known sports card company. Mr. Reznikoff told the dealer that the card company required the signatures to be authenticated by an authenticator. Reznikoff told the dealer to send the signatures to a certain authenticating company (which Reznikoff is one of their authenticators) and put Reznikoff’s name and his Connecticut return address on the package. Reznikoff told the dealer that if the dealer sent the signatures under his own name to the authenticating company they most likely would not be passed as genuine.

Reznikoff recently sold a large collection of short handwritten letters in pencil by Thomas Edison. The purchasing dealer complained that some of the letters were just signed with Edison’s initial "E". Also, several other letters were unsigned. Reznikoff responded by saying you can simply take a pencil and sign the letter "E" to the bottom of the unsigned letters, no one would know.

Lastly but certainly not least is the fact that Reznikoff in 2006 attempted to purchase www.autographalert.com with the hopes of shutting us down!

The above is just a sample of what we have in our files on Reznikoff. There is much more including complaints from collectors and dealers. It’s all documented.

John Reznikoff has been chosen "Dealer of the Year" by the UACC. This leads you to believe this is the best they got! Of the approximately 150 dealers still left in the club, does no one have better qualifications to be chosen "Dealer of the Year." This choice should not only be insulting to all UACC Registered Dealers but also a kick in the groin to every dealer who thinks they may be more qualified after reading all the above.

Maybe just something to think about when its time for dealers to renew their membership!

Breaking News:
August 19, 2009
 
www.autographalert.com is shocked
and grateful!
www.autographalert.com is thankful to all those supporters who responded to the last article published on this website regarding the possible lawsuit threatened by Autograph magazine. Those of you who have cancelled your subscriptions to the magazine, it was your choice based on the information you have gathered. We are told in at least one case Mr.Cyrkin even placed a personal phone call to a long term subscriber who cancelled his subscription.

To those who have emailed us with such statements as "if such a matter ever evolves, you can count on me for a financial contribution to defend this or any other erroneous argument" we are extremely grateful for your dedication to this site and your belief that both sides of a story be told. We especially appreciate your offers of financial support. Thank You!

Breaking News:
July 27, 2009
 
Autograph Magazine Bullies the UACC
Lawsuit Threaten Against www.autographalert.com

We would like to thank all our readers for their support of our last article Autograph Collector Magazine What were You Thinking?

To be fair we did get a half dozen negative emails basically all reading the same way and same style of writing and all signed using different first names. For the most part, it appears that one person was behind most of the emails.

It is clear that a Florida based autograph operation with several galleries throughout the State is under attack. American Royal Arts has been in the business since 1986 and has grown to become the leading publisher of Entertainment Fine Art in the world. According to this company they have formed partnerships, many exclusive, with some of the most important icons of the 20th and 21st centuries in the entertainment world. America Royal Arts (ARA) was Disney’s largest dealer for over ten years and Jerry Gladstone, President of ARA was chosen to be on Disney’s advisory board. ARA has held many worldwide publishing rights including Apple Corp., Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Fox Studios, King Features and many others. To name just a few, presently ARA is under license with Frank Sinatra Enterprises, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Joe Petruccio, and represents artwork from "Rocky" under license from MGM Studios. ARA is an approved dealer with Upper Deck and just had a signing with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.

As mentioned earlier ARA has been in business for 23 years. www.autographalert.com contacted the Florida Better Business Bureau and has discovered this company has an A+ rating.

All the above is most impressive. ARA certainly got the attention of companies who claim to authenticate autographs and the Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC).

According to an interview www.autogaphalert.com had with Mr. Gladstone we were told that a well known representative from PSA/DNA contacted him requesting that PSA/DNA be the authenticating company for ARA. Mr. Gladstone knew PSA/DNA had a very low rating with the California Better Business Bureau and decided to pass. The response from the PSA/DNA representative was one many of us has heard in he past "you are either with us or against us."

The UACC took the initiative and it was they who contacted ARA. A representative of the UACC, Al Hallonquist who holds the position of Director personally sat down with Mr.Gladstone requesting that ARA become a UACC Registered Dealer. Every member of the UACC has read the clubs hype of how a dealer is completely vetted by the UACC before being allowed membership. ARA was vetted and Mr. Hallonquist even took the time and visited an ARA gallery to look over the inventory. American Royal Arts was accepted as a registered dealer, Dealer #301, and issued the registered dealer certificate.


Registered Dealer Certificate issued to American Royal Arts by the UACC
 
It appears within days of ARA becoming a UACC Registered Dealer word of this got to Steve Cyrkin, publisher of Autograph Collector Magazine. Cyrkin sent the following email to Michael Hecht (President of the UAAC) and to the UACC Board Members.
Subj: Resignation

"Dear Michael and UACC Board Members:

I just found out that American Royal Arts has been made UACC RD 301. Please accept my resignation, effective immediately from the UACC and the UACC Registered Dealer Program. Autograph Magazine is also terminating its working relationship with the UACC, effective immediately.
Sincerely,
Steve Cyrkin
Publisher Autograph Magazine."

 

 
It is clear that the UACC quickly reacted to Cyrkin’s email resignation. They had a chance to defend their actions after chasing ARA to be a member, vetting ARA, visiting his gallery and inspecting ARA’s inventory and instead of declawing a bully they folded like a cheap suit. ARA was stripped of its UACC Dealer membership and the same RD#301 was given to the next dealer in line. The membership of the UACC was not told of these actions by their President and Board of Directors. It has been kept quiet, until now. This is what happens behind the scenes in this club.

It is a fact that Cyrkin is a co founder of PSA/DNA. He allows PSA/DNA to run a full page ad in every issue of Autograph magazine. Cyrkin wrote an article in the February issue of Autograph magazine on How to buy Rock…Without Getting Rolled". Cyrkin writes under his Rule #4 about authentications: " The most widely accepted ones for rock ‘n’ roll are PSA/DNA.." The very first one listed is the company he co founded and the same company ARA refused to utilize as their authenticator. In that same article Cyrkin specifically states: "There are three major dealer associations that carefully screen their members….these organizations are very careful about whom they let in, have dispute resolution services and remove members when they find cause."

Whatever Cyrkin’s beef is with ARA, the proper procedure as he knows it would be to file a complaint with the UACC Ethic’s Board. The Board should follow there own procedures. What Cyrkin did was bully the UACC with his resignation. He used the power of his free space offered to the UACC in each issue of Autograph magazine to force the UACC to remove one of their approved dealers.

www.autographalert.com asked Jerry Gladstone for a comment and his reply was: "I have always been extremely cautious with every autograph purchase we have ever made. I still feel that for ARA purposes, to help eliminate concerns about conflict of interest, using outside authenticators is beneficial. There has been some attention brought to the signed memorabilia the company handles, but in reality, much of what is offered by ARA is licensed limited edition memorabilia which has100 percent provenance from companies such as Elvis Presley Enterprises, Frank Sinatra Enterprises, Brian Wilson, Sylvester Stallone, Upper Deck and others. I wish others would stand up to the apparent hypocrisy throughout the industry."

Last article on www.autographalert.com
That article was a wakeup call for many, opening the eyes of those "out of the loop."

Www.autographalert.com simply printed what Autograph magazine requested of ARA but refused to print. ARA wanted their side of the story told and had no other choice but to do so in the form of an ad in Goldmine magazine. We were avised Steve Cyrkin called Goldmine magazine, bullying them by threatening them with a lawsuit.

Shortly after our article was published on this website, Cyrkin tried to bully us via email with the threat of a lawsuit. He demanded the story be taken down by noon Tuesday (July21).

Author Kevin Nelson writes in his article "Whistleblower" in the July issue of Autograph magazine: "…Cyrkin is another outspoken one, using the bully pulpit of Autograph to call dealers and authenticators out by name in his editorials and articles…." To many we have spoken to this appears to be the problem. The dealers and authenticators Cyrkin seems to go after don't have ads in his magazine. The ones he recommends, most have full page ads and one is an authenticating company he co founded.

 
Breaking News:
July 19, 2009
 
Autograph collector magazine
What Were You Thinking?


For three years collectors from around the world have been asking for educational information about the hobby of collecting autographs. Many have been introduced to the hobby through this website. Others claim they saw a link on other websites.

Many readers have been in this hobby or a short period of time and don’t know who to trust. Hobby veteran Steve Koschal was asked to take on the project of creating the First Internet Autograph Educational Course. Press releases were sent out to all the autograph clubs, internationally and to Autograph collector magazine.

Autograph collector magazine refused to run the press release because the course had to be taken by logging onto www.autographalert.com

In the past, too many friends/advertisers of Autograph collector magazine have been exposed on www.autographalert.com so it appears Autograph collector magazine would rather hide their associates short comings from the collecting public than help educate the autograph community!

The following is just a sample of the letters received from readers of autographalert.com regarding the educational course:

a) "On the beginning collector course on the website…much needed by many." B.G.
b) "Wonderful, just what autograph collectors need, a step by step guide, to avoid the many pitfalls in collecting autographs." B.N.
c) "I spent a good portion of my day reading though the new autograph course on autographalert.com. It was full of excellent information and obviously written by somebody very knowledgeable in the field. Thank you for creating it and allowing people to read it at no charge." L.P
d) "I read your autograph course on-line & found it very interesting and informative. I learned a lot from it. I wish I could speak to you and learn more…" S.L.
e) "I have read your autograph course on autogaphalert.com with great interest. It is a wonderful work.." A.W.

The owner of Autograph collector magazine, Steve Cyrkin, is also owner of Starbrite Autographs. Many feel this is a terrible conflict of interests. Many dealers will no longer advertise in the magazine. One major dealer told us "why should we pay the huge sum of $1,295.00 for a full page ad when Starbrite our competitor can run four pages of ads for the cost of paper and ink." The dealer continued: "it didn’t make sense as we barely got a call a month from that ad so we dropped it. Steve Crykin called and said for the magazine appearance we can continue to run the full page ad for free and we still refused."

In the last slim issue of Autograph collector magazine six pages were used for the magazine owners personal use. Has anyone noticed his inside front cover (in color) ad? If you wanted this space it would cost you $1,695.00. Obviously no one thinks it’s worth it so Steve Cyrkin takes the space for his autograph company. Cyrkin states "Strong Prices Paid." This is what the handful of his other advertisers are up against. Hard to compete with printed statements like this in one of the best locations in the magazine. He continues to advertise his website but take notice the website has been shut down for two months. On June 30 the site claims it is shut down for maintenance. Two months for maintenance?????? A week later the site says it should be open August 6. We have heard some rumors about why this website has been closed down and are trying to confirm what our source has told us. Maybe more on this later.

Can the following just be an oversight or just a poor excuse to thicken up a magazine? The same full page ad is repeated three times in the same magazine. An autograph price guide being sold by Autograph magazine on page 10 , page 69 and a third time on page 91. How about an educational article to replace two of those ads? Can Autograph magazine find one that they think won’t expose their friends or advertisers?

Notice the full page ad for PSA/DNA. Cyrkin has stated he is a co-founder of this company and it is said he is still a major stock holder in the parent company. PSA/DNA is the only third party authenticating company advertising in this magazine. Interesting!

What is Cyrkin’s Beef?

How many issues of Autograph collector magazine has Cyrkin mentioned the lawsuit filed by American Royal Arts against Frank Caiazzo? The latest issue of Autograph magazine (July 09) states that Cyrkin is outspoken using the bully pulpit of Autograph to call dealers and authenticators out by name in his editorials and articles….trying to get the public to see the difference between good and bad, real and fake… How about starting within his own PSA/DNA before going after the competitors? One article Cyrkin wrote was titled "Thank You Frank Caiazzo." Another article states: "…Frank Caiazzo a renowned authority on Beatles autographs who is being sued by American Royal Arts for identifying what he and other experts (no specific experts were mentioned) believe are obvious forgeries."

All this certainly appears to be a one sided Steve Cyrkin story. In fairness to all www.autgraphalert.com would prefer to bring all the news to you, and you decide by hearing both sides of the story.

In response to all of the Cyrkin stories the following is a response from American Royal Arts.

Thank You Frank Caiazzo - We Don’t Think So


Autograph magazine recently "invited" American Royal Arts Corp to respond to Steve Crykin’s publication regarding Frank Caiazzo, which was published in its October 2008 issue. We did, however in a conversation with Jerry Gladstone, president of American Royal Arts, Cyrkin said, "I am not going to publish this. These guys are my friends, and I have to protect them." This was already obvious to American Royal Arts based upon the title of his editorial "Frank Caiazzo, Thank You."

Furthermore, Cyrkin said he needed more time to verify the facts. Perhaps he should have taken the time to verify the information he printed in his publication.

In addition, American Royal Arts believes it is important for the readers to keep in mind that, although Cyrkin leads the public to feel the magazine he publishes is an objective autograph collector’s magazine he owns a company that sells autographs and advertisers in the publication under the name Star-Brite Autographs, an obvious competitor of American Royal Arts, does not, from what American Royal Arts has seen, use forensic science methods to authenticate signatures on items it sells. With this perspective, the reader maybe better able to make a decision as to whether Autograph magazine is truly objective in its support of Frank Caiazzo. At a fundamental level some in the industry see the battle as between forensic experts and non-forensic experts.

"American Royal Arts’ goal from the beginning has been to get the truth out."

American Royal Arts believes many of the statements made in Cyrkin’s publication are untrue, inaccurate and misleading. American Royal Arts believes that a more accurate portrayal of Frank Caiazzo should include the following information for the readers’ understanding and perspective.

-Frank Caiazzo is a self-proclaimed expert who lacks scientific training.
-Frank Caiazzo, at times buy’s, sells and authenticates his own signed Beatles memorabilia.
In many aspects of his business, Frank Caiazzo appears to have a strong conflict of interest.

American Royal Arts would also like to provide the following more specific response to the points in the Cyrkin publication.
 
As quoted in Autograph magazine, "Even Christie’s and Sotheby’s…go to Frank Caiazzo." In reality,
-When Leila Dunbar, director of the Collectibles Department for Sotheby’s was asked if they use Caiazzo, she responded in writing: "We never had need for authenticating services as the items all had provenance from being directly consigned from the owners…." To clarify, the inquirer asked: "So should I assume you never used Caiazzo authentication services?" Dunbar replied, "Yes."
 
Simeon Lipman, the head of the Pop Culture Department for Christie’s also denied using Caiazzo’s services.

Furthermore, a July 27, 2008, New York Post article revealed the results of a "sting" operation during which a Beatles album originally authenticated by Frank Caiazzo was sent to individuals in the authentication business. These individuals rejected the album, deeming it a fake.

One of the "experts" who reviewed this album during the sting was Roger Epperson, who has authenticated for RR Auctions, PSA/DNA and JSA Authentication. When Epperson looked at the album Caiazzo had proclaimed to be authentic, he responded in writing that "it is not authentic." When Epperson was told the item had a Frank Caiazzo certificate, his response was, "Frank would never say that is real."

The Revolver album that Epperson said was fake and Caiazzo said was real is published in the July 3, 2007, It’s Only Rock and Roll Auction catalog.

Cyrkin’s publication also states, "in 1994 Caiazzo uncovered what was at the time the largest and longest running Beatles forgery scam ever." American Royal Arts challenged Cyrkin from Autograph magazine to provide the factual support for that statement. American Royal Arts doubts that any such support exists. When asked for court reports or arrest records pertaining to the matter, Cyrkin told Gladstone that it wasn’t really like that. He (Caiazzo) "just knew they were fakes." So, again, in the publication, Cyrkin gives the impression that Caiazzo was a hero who broke up a forgery ring. However, the facts seem to suggest that Caiazzo was simply only circulating the same defamatory stories then that he is now. It is circular and misleading, American Royal Arts believes, to state that Caiazzo "uncovered" any forgery ring under these circumstances.

Cyrkin also states that American Royal Arts "sued Frank to scare him." Nothing can be further from the truth. American Royal Arts has been in the business for 23 years, and this is the first lawsuit it has filed. The real reasons for filing the lawsuit against Caiazzo are detailed on www.FrankCaiazzoLawsuit.com

If anybody is trying to use scare tactics, American Royal Arts is of the opinion that it is Caiazzo and his henchmen. For instance, American Royal Arts has recently served and filed an Amended Complaint against Caiazzo. Since that date, people associated with American Royal Arts have been the victims of increasing and renewed intimidation tactics. As recently as a few weeks ago, forensic examiners associated with American Royal Arts who have only recently been identified in the Amended Complaint have been victimized by harassing and threatening phone calls. The basic message from the anonymous callers was watch your back, alienate yourself from American Royal Arts, or live with the consequences.

In response to Caiazzo’s and Cyrkin’s claims that very few Beatles’ albums were signed by the Beatles, American Royal Arts refers Autograph magazine and anyone else interested, to the letter on the www.frankcaiazolawsuit.com website. This letter documents that authors, such as American journalist Larry Kane (who traveled with the Beatles) and other celebrities, including Eric Clapton, witnessed The Beatles signing items. The attest to the many times that the Beatles signed and even gave away original and autographed material. To those who question this issue, American Royal Arts challenges the readers to visit You Tube to search the following to witness just a few of the examples of how The Beatles were accessible for and did, in fact, sign items.
-Mind Games John Lennon
-Paul McCartney signing autographs in Liverpool
-George Harrison signing autographs
-Ringo Starr autographs (He recently announced that after decades of signing every imaginable item, he will stop signing this year.)

It wasn’t just the Beatles, either. You Tube has videos of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and others signing items for fans at concerts, backstage, in the streets and a variety of other venues. Why is it such a surprise to some that these celebrities often signed items for their fans?

The readers and the industry as a whole should know that two additional, independent, competent and qualified professionals have also examined the Revolver album at issue in the Caiazzo lawsuit. Both have concluded that the item is genuine.

The first, E’Lyn Bryan, is competent and qualified to make this finding:
-Bryan is a Court-Qualified Forensic Document Examiner
-Bryan is a frequent lecturer, instructor and published author on the subject of forensic document examination.
Bryan is president of the South Florida Investigators Association and is a member of the National Association of Document Examiners, the National Questioned Document Examiners Association, the Forensic Expert Witness Association and the Southeast Handwriting Association.

The second, Robert J. Phillips, is also competent and qualified to make this finding:
-Phillips has more than 30 years experience in questioned document examination.
-Phillips has been an expert witness in more than 500 court appearances.
-Phillips has examined more than 250,000 signatures and documents involving fraud, checks, contracts, lawsuits, ink and paper dating, among others.

All of these true experts are willing and prepared to testify in a court of law that the signatures on the item are genuine. In his publication, Cyrkin next refers to "other experts" who he claims state that the merchandise American Royal Arts offers is "fake." One such person is Perry Cox. He is another self-proclaimed expert and, importantly, an associate of Frank Caiazzo. In fact, Cox sent a letter trying to raise money to support Caiazzo’s defense of the lawsuit American Royal Arts filed.

Under false pretense and in slander and defamation of American Royal Arts, Cox wrote: "The LP was a later U.S. issue Revolver L.P."

In reality, the L.P. is an original U.S. release by Capitol Records from 1966. The T2576 in the top right corner confirms that date. Cox plainly lied. After his lie was exposed, Cox sent an e-mail admitting he was wrong. However, he had already caused damages to American Royal Arts by this time.

Yes, collecting rock and roll memorabilia has become a big business. Yet, some continue to rely on self-proclaimed experts and conflicted people, such as Frank Caiazzo, rather than relying on qualified people who use scientifically approved forensic methodology and who do not have conflicts of interest.

American Royal Arts’ goal from the beginning has been to get the truth out. American Royal Arts hopes this statement sheds some light on the issues. American Royal Arts has heard from many others who have suffered similar experiences at the hand of Frank Caiazzo. American Royal Arts is simply the first, but not likely the last, to take a stand on the likes of Frank Caiazzo in a court of law.

There it is, for the first time, the story from both sides. On purpose, one side was kept from you. Now that you have read both sides, this may help you make your own decision!

Breaking News:
July 4, 2009
 
RR Auction Rejects a John Reznikoff Item As A Forgery!

To some it may appear this site picks on the same old characters but unfortunately these tend to be the same old newsmakers that like to maintain a high profile.

This story is just too good to pass, somewhat humorous but mostly indicates what a sad state the hobby of autograph collecting has reached.

Let’s set the stage. RR Auction, a monthly autograph auction house. RR Auction acts as their own autograph authenticator for each item offered however for "identifying historical items" they use the services of John Reznikoff, who is also a PSA/DNA and a JSA authenticator, to authenticate select presidential and historical material.

Has anyone noticed how frequent there are items signed by Barack Obama being offered by sellers of autographs. In the last several months RR Auctions alone has had numerous items in each and every auction. Everything imaginable including signed books, baseballs, photos of all sizes, backstage passes, clipped signatures, signed magazines, limited edition prints, souvenir Oath of Office, campaign signs and even a pick guard for a guitar was supposedly signed. One thing stands out, almost every signed presidential items in the last several RR Auctions comes with a COA from John Reznikoff of University Archives. However not a single item "supposedly" signed by Obama has been authenticated by Reznikoff. Even though Reznikoff has made so many mistakes in the past authenticating other presidential and political signatures maybe even he feels he doesn’t know Obama’s signature. Interestingly Reznikoff is not authenticating RR Auction Obama items however he is selling items signed by Obama on his own website such s a signed book and a signed bumper sticker.

Reznikoff has stated to a mid west autograph dealer that he felt many of the items signed by Obama in the RR Auctions are suspect. Between RR Auction & Reznikoff, both who have made so many mistakes in authenticating autographs throughout the years, who does one believe, if any?

This comedy of authenticating autographs continues as a reader of autograph alert sends us an email. We quote parts directly from the email.
Subj: COA’s
Date: 6/25/2009 11:21:51PM

"….thought you might be amused at a personal anecdote of something that happened quite recently. I approached RR Auctions here in N(ew) H(ampshire) with an FDC signed by the Apollo 11 crew…..I also was interested in seeing how they would react to a vintage postcard of a French aviator in flight, signed by Wilbur Wright. Both were rejected (by RR Auctions) as forgeries! I expected the verdict on the Wright, as it had no provenance, and I would have had difficulty standing behind it. But the irony was that I had purchased the FDC nine years ago from John Reznikoff, one of RR’s authenticators. When I questioned how something carrying one of their own authenticator’s COA’s could be considered a forgery, the answer was that they would re-evaluate all items brought to them for sale, even if it had an RR COA. How’s that for worthless?"

 

 
The Apollo 11 item has been returned to University Archives, and John Reznikoff has issued a refund.

Who doesn’t remember all that was written in the New York Times and in various magazines and shown on television regarding the huge JFK/Marilyn Monroe 8 million dollar forgery case that Reznikoff played a major part? Eventually, his friend, the forger went to prison. If all this is not bad enough, you may want to go to the next level of dis-belief. Reznikoff who was selling many of the JFK forgeries "as authentic" is still authenticating items signed by JFK for RR Auctions , PSA/NA, JSA and of course himself!

This alone is proof that this industry is screaming for some sort of oversight and regulation. Why would a legitimate autograph dealer or authenticator object?

Breaking News:
June 27, 2009
 
eBay & Their Authenticators, Same Ole Crapola

We receive thousands upon thousands of hits daily on our website; generally followed by email upon email with a wide range of content reflecting "the good, the bad, and the ugly" in the autograph hobby and industry.
 
Nevertheless, praise and criticism aside, the underlying theme of the emails are fairly constant; something akin to "God-please-save-our-hobby-from-these-authenticating-rakes and conmen!" A prime example of this is the following email received from a frustrated collector/dealer trying to deal with eBay and his ridiculous conversation with PSA/DNA's President, Joe Orlando. Joe Orlando "...couldn't tell me anything about his staff or where they get their training..." (What a surprise!)

Unedited and intact, enjoy the read and learn from it:
Dear Autographalert,
thank you so much for what your doing and trying to accomplish! I've been an E-bay member since 2000, and i have almost 600 positive feedback, on my personal E-bay account. On my e-bay business account i have almost 60,000 feedback, and spent 35,000 dollars with E-bay, in E-bay fees last year alone. A couple weeks ago, one of my auctions was removed, because of a third party authenticator for E-bay, who said in their opinion it may not be genuine. I e-mailed E-bay, and told them what they could do with their opinion, since i had gotten it signed in front of my face, and I went ahead and re-listed it. A couple days later when i tried to sign on to E-bay, my account was blocked and suspended. I sent another E-mail venting my anger, and begging them to go to autographalert.com. I was somewhat inappropriate, in the heat of the moment, in my e-mails, which i later apologized for, but this suspension is an absolutely pathetic joke, based on the opinion of incompetent morons, if not worse, in this un-regulated third party authenticating industry. As of 1 week later i have heard nothing from E-bays trust and safety department, what a joke, and the people i talk to on the phone, 3 different times, say they can do nothing but send an e-mail to the trust and safety department, which so far has accomplished nothing. I would think that in this economy, E-bay would be going out of there way to keep a 10 plus year customer who has spent 30,000 a year in E-bay fees for the past 5 years, happy and in the mix, but apparently not. They would rather profit somehow with being in bed with incompetent third party authenticators, which i find sad, and disturbing. In my ten years on e-bay i have never done anything unethical, which is much more than 95% of the autograph sellers on E-bay could say, yet im the one who is suspended indefinitely, and cant even get a response. Psa/Dna is a pathetic joke, and i talked with Joe Orlando on the phone for at least a half an hour, and although i could hardly get a word in edge wise, he wouldn't or couldn't tell me anything about his staff or where they get their training. He also said if i sent back the 4 autographs i had just gotten back from Psa/dna, all declined as not authentic, even though two of the four i had gotten in person, he told me to send them back addressed to him, and he would see what he could do, implying he would change the opinions to authentic. I never sent them because their opinion is meaningless to me. I need a new outlet for selling authentic autographs, any suggestions? Keep up the great work, and maybe someday we will get our hobby back. im a 35-year collector, and its a passion that cant be explained. It's to bad that Psa/Dna, James Spence and the others, along with E-bay, are destroying the hobby. Thanks again, Erik.

 


Breaking News:
June 21, 2009
 
UACC - PROBLEMS CONTINUE…

The UACC website states that for $35 a year, members will receive the clubs journal every two months! The last journal issued by the UACC was the Jan/Feb issue which was mailed in December 2008. That issue had stated that in the next issue (March/April) which would normally be mailed the end of February will be about The day music died…February 3, 1959..." It’s beginning to appear the end of February may be the time the UACC has started to go on life support. March/April journal…non existent. May/June journal….non existent. Normally July/August issue would be mailed last week of June…has anyone received this one? That’s three issues or half the years membership dues….for what?

All most everyone who may still be a member is well aware that a fellow by the name of Mark Allen Baker has taken over the journal over a year ago. His name is listed in several places throughout the journal including a full page ad for selling autographs. He is listed as editor and publisher of the Pen & Quill. There is even an advertisement in the Jan/Feb issue called "Attention Writers" where Baker requests that members send an article for submission for that same issue Jan/Feb for stories on Project Mercury. Baker requests that the deadline for the issue (you are reading) to be December 1 (2008). Unbelievable! Baker goes on to say deadline for the Mar-Apr issue for Buddy Holly - Rock & Roll be February 1 and deadline for May-Jun issue Charlie Chaplin - Entertainment be April 1, long passed.

The membership has not received any of these issues but the membership has paid their $35 dues. Very upset should be the dealer members who advertise. They have paid the advertising rates for the year and as of today three issues of the journal are not to be found. Is a refund coming?????

Rumors are floating around that the UACC is thinking about turning their bi-monthly journal into a quarterly journal. Is this the next surprise? If this becomes true, some members are thinking about getting a refund of their membership fees. The cost of savings to the club will be huge with no printing and mailing costs for the journals not published and they get to keep the full years membership dues.

The UACC website has finally made some sort of an announcement on their website about the situation. However it doesn’t make much sense. An anonymous announcement stating that the UACC Secretary John Laing has passed away and that another person is being brought "up to speed." The P&Q will be out as soon as they amend our database…

What an announcement to the membership after all these months: "the P&Q will be out as soon as possible…."

We went through our last several issues of the P&Q and don’t see where John Laing was mentioned as having anything to do with the journal. Besides Mr. Laing passed away on April 19, 2009, what does this have to do with the membership not getting the March/April issue which should have been mailed the end of February? Maybe its time for the membership to speak up and let the members of the board know how you feel.

Who is telling the truth? The UACC’s last published journal Jan/Feb 2009 issue or the UACC’s website? In the last published issue on page 64 the UACC is looking for advertisers. In this half page ad they tell potential advertisers that the club’s NEW UACC website gets over 800 hits a day. HOWEVER, on the UACC website the homepage clearly states the club website get 500,000 hits a year. That would be 1,369 hits a day. Which one do you want to believe, if any? Does it sound like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing?

Autographalet.com has recently received the following email from a long time and well known autograph dealer. We think this email speaks volumes.
Subj: UACC
Date: 5/25/2009 1:31:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: vardakismark@yahoo.com
To: autograph alert.com

Greetings, Regarding your article about the UACC. I was a member for 15 years and even acted as the N.E. Regional Director for awhile. I organized several shows and was excited to be involved with the club. Because of health reasons I dropped my membership for about 5 years. About 2 years ago I sent a membership check for $35 to the appropriate address which was deposited according to my bank statement. After no response for months I contacted several key officials and still have gotten no membership information or club magazines after all this time. This is not a condemnation of the organization but just the facts and a sad commentary on what has happened to a formerly great group. Thanks. Mark Vardakis.

 


Breaking News:
June 8, 2009
 
Internet Educational Course on Autograph Collecting

During the mid to late 1990's, 14 different autograph educational courses were taught by some of the leading experts in this field. Some of the instructors of these courses are household names in the industry such as Kenneth Lawrence, Bill Butts, Gil Griggs, Christopher Jaeckel, Joseph Maddalena, Bill Miller, Daniel Weinberg, Stephen Koschal and Kenneth W. Rendell.

The days of the courses are long gone yet rarely a day passes that someone from around the world asks if there will ever be a course that they could attend. The problem with a live course is that the course can only be a regional event. In most cases only local collectors and dealers would attend. Thus the International Autograph community would not get the benefit from the course.

The time has arrived for the first autograph educational course to be given on the Internet. It is a basic course on autograph collecting and will cover most aspects of the hobby. The course is free to all who want to click the link on this homepage. For those who read the entire course, a Certificate of Completion will be available, hand signed by the instructor.

These certificates can be framed and placed on display in your office or place of business.

www.autographalert.com maybe the autograph industry’s most popular web site. During the last year the site received 1,277,882 hits. Many of those from around the world have been introduced to the autograph hobby through www.autographalert.com

Breaking News:
June 3, 2009
 
Herman Darvick
Collectors want their money back!

Herman Darvick will tell you he was president of the UACC (Universal Autograph Collectors Club) from 1967 to 1987 but it seems to slip his mind that he was also thrown out of the club over ethic’s violations. He will tell you he is now a “forensic expert” and that he was a Consultant Authenticator for PSA/DNA from 2006-2009.

Why would any company want to have on staff someone who has been thrown out of a club for ethic’s violations and who has a very long history of selling questionable autographs. Some are so terrible, they are not even be questionable.

The following item was sold by Herman Darvick as item #285 in his 1991 New York Auction. Darvick states in his catalog description this is a RARE early ANS (autograph note signed) of Babe Ruth. This piece of garbage sold for $2,250.00.
 
Apocryphal Babe Ruth sold by Herman Darvick
 
Many persons have had problems with Darvick in the past and a very few were able to be satisfied. During the early 1990's Darvick owed one consignor over $100,000 for several months after Darvick’s auction. Darvick stopped taking the consignor’s phone calls. The consignor drove to a school in Brooklyn where Darvick was a teacher. In the school hall way Darvick’s excuse for not paying the consignor was that his wife wanted a new addition put on their house and that’s where the money went.

There have been many other complaints about Darvick from both collectors and dealers who have dealt with him.

Www.autographalert.com received the following email from one of our readers:
 
Subject: Forged Autographs
Date: 5/29/2009 7:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Name left intentionally blank by autographalert.com
TO: autographalert@aol.com

In the past I purchased many autographs from Herman Darvick that I assumed were authentic because I thought he was one of the best in the field at the time. In recent years I have consigned some of them to R&R Enterprises and some have come back as being secretarial or unauthentic in some other form. I obtained letters from R&R for the unauthentic ones stating why they aren’t real. I need to contact Darvick to try to get a refund for them since he guaranteed them for life. How do I go about getting his address and go about getting a refund? I am thinking if he refuses I can contact the New York Attorney General since he lived in New York when he sold them to me. Am I going about this the right way? I saw your article on August 13, 2007 where he forged autographs and am wondering how many I bought were forged by him. I am out several thousand dollars if I can’t get a refund. Let me know how to handle this if you were me.”
 

 

This collector needs to get in line as there are some trying to get paid or get consignments back from Darvick which he has not sold and will not return.

Darvick has been known to come up with an incredible statement to others. Darvick has said the following: “since I am no longer selling autographs my lifetime policy expired.”

This is one heck of a statement that no one should be able to get away with. Imagine any dealer who gets in a bind regarding a major refund, just stops selling autographs to get out of their “Lifetime Guarantee.” Is this shrewd or just plain crooked.” In any event we can assure you Darvick’s statement is a lie. He has been selling autographs on eBay since March 2001 and goes under the Seller name “teacher33188". We sent out our scout’s trying to locate Darvick.

He claims to have worked for PSA/DNA, if you can get them to answer an email they may give you Darvick’s phone number. We were told by someone who should be in the know that Darvick works for John Reznikoff of University Archives and that Darvick may be at Reznikoff’s office a few days a week.

Darvick wrote someone who was anticipating writing a book about the hobby and stated : “I’ll write something great for the bookjacket which will really upset the UACC...” In that same email he listed his address as : 562 Lakeview Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY 11570-3223.

Good Luck with this guy!

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