REA would like to take the time to express a special thanks to all the authenticators who have contributed to uncovering often ingenious and complicated fraud, and in the process protecting consumers. It’s a thankless job and these guys are often literally on the firing lines of retribution by those whose interests they cross. It is a given that these same authenticators sometimes make mistakes, sometimes even obvious mistakes. It is a given that authenticators sometimes do not agree with each other, or sometimes even change their minds at a later date (which can be very frustrating). That comes with the territory. We sometimes joke that if all of them ever agreed on the same autographed item, we’d have to declare a new holiday!
But at the end of the day, gentlemen such as Mike Gutierrez (who no longer authenticates but was the very first to uncover two of the most sophisticated and elaborate frauds in the field of baseball autographs, one involving an ingenious mixing of extraordinary authentic items with non-authentic items), James Spence of JSA, Steve Grad of PSA, Richard Simon, and many others, while at the same time making themselves targets of ridicule for every error they make, also help identify and put a huge monkey wrench into the plans of the most prolific professional forgers, and in the process help protect the entire market and the collecting world from the most ambitious and egregious fraud in the field. These authenticators play an enormous role in uncovering and stopping the most ambitious and dangerous frauds - some involving millions of dollars in forgeries - perpetrated by extremely sophisticated criminals, and we can’t help but notice that they really don’t any credit for this. In fact, some get a lot of flack. So we’d like to just say thanks to all the authenticators (as humans, flawed though you may be!) for the valuable services you provide, both to your customers and just as important, though far less understood, to the entire marketplace (ironically, even to your detractors). There will always be differences of opinion among authenticators, there will always be mistakes, and a mistake can be made on any given item, but without these authenticators on the front lines, we believe the collecting world would be in far worse shape, the market would be in disarray, and that forgeries would be the rule, as opposed to the exception.
This seems an appropriate place to provide a link to the REA blog post entitled “Autographs at REA or any other auction: Is Authenticity Guaranteed?” that is as relevant today as when we first published it on April 24, 2008, and that further elaborates our thoughts regarding the many merits (and flaws) of third party autograph authentication:
Robert Edward Auctions LLC