Are All 2001 Barry Bonds Home Run Jerseys Fake?

Published by Robert Lifson on Tagged Uncategorized

Barry Bonds 2001 Game-Worn Home Run Jerseys Revisited:

Have all the authenticators been wrong? Are all the 2001 Barry Bonds “Home Run Jerseys” in the marketplace fake? So many auctions have sold so many of these jerseys and so many authenticators have “authenticated” them. Could they all be wrong?

We think that is the case.

We hope we are wrong. But we don’t think so.

Even though the jerseys have originated from Barry Bonds’ own company (”Barry Bonds Authenticated”, which, ironically, was created specifically to protect the public from buying fake Bonds items), the evidence simply does not support the claims that these jerseys were used by Bonds in the specific games as represented when sold (or ever worn by Bonds in any game), and does appear to support the conclusion that they are not game-worn jerseys at all.  We hope we’re wrong, but that’s what it looks like to us.

Below is an early auction preview write-up of a Barry Bonds “game-worn home run” jersey consigned to the Spring 2012 REA auction. When purchased by our consignor, this jersey was represented as the very jersey Bonds wore when hitting home run #543 of his career (and the 49th of the season) on August 9, 2001 at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati.  

It is our hope that maybe by posting this catalog write-up early, we will be provided with additional information that will help us to provide the most accurate information possible for the final description for this lot.  

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2001 Barry Bonds Signed San Francisco Giants Jersey Represented As Game-Used While Hitting His 543rd Home Run (Authenticity In Question)

When is a Barry Bonds 2001 game-worn home run jersey not a Barry Bonds 2001 game-worn home run jersey? Probably when it is signed as such by Bonds and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Bonds’ own authentication company, “Barry Bonds Authenticated.” Confused yet? Don’t worry, you are not alone. While the Bonds steroid scandal continues to garner most of the national headlines, equally compelling is the controversy (that has received very little attention) regarding his game-used memorabilia, most notably those pieces dating from his record-breaking 2001 season. While we cannot possibly cover and discuss all of the issues regarding the sale of Bonds’ 2001 game-used equipment, we will relate many of the most important points and discoveries made, especially as it pertains to our offered piece: a 2001 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants road jersey purportedly worn by Bonds when he hit his 49th home run of the season, and the 543rd home run of his career on August 9, 2001 at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati.

We should begin by stating that we do not believe that this jersey was ever worn in a game by Barry Bonds, let alone the game in which he hit his 543rd career home run in 2001. While we know that that opinion is not a popular one among some sellers and authenticators, and that many collectors have expressed a different viewpoint, it is our opinion and it is based upon all of the evidence we have to date. In fairness, it must be noted that many of the 2001 Barry Bonds game-used home run jerseys circulating in the hobby today, including examples sold by Robert Edward Auctions in the past (with full disclosure provided by REA on all of the issues surrounding each piece), have received the highest grade possible by an independent third-party authentication company, a fact which has only fueled the controversy and led to even greater confusion among collectors.

To begin, we will describe the offered jersey and its documentation, followed by analysis of both, which will include all of the pertinent information we have learned through our research.  We are not authenticators, but we are armed with common sense. The grey knit jersey is lettered “San Francisco” across the front and features the name “Bonds” on the reverse. The number “25″ appears on the reverse directly below the name. All letters and numerals are appliquéd in black on orange tackle twill. A “Russell Athletic” label is located on the left front tail, directly below which is a white “2001 Barry Bonds Authenticated” label. A San Francisco Giants team patch adorns the left sleeve. The jersey has been signed and inscribed, presumably by Bonds, on the reverse in black Sharpie (grading “10″): “Barry Bonds/HR 543.” The Jersey is completely original, with no alterations, and displays light wear. (which would be expected if the jersey were only worn for one or two games). The jersey is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Barry Bonds Authenticated, dated “9/2/01.”

Taken at face value, the jersey, especially given the Bonds inscription and accompanying COA, appears to be a Bonds game-worn home run jersey from the 2001 season. Unfortunately, there are problems with the garment which have yet to be reconciled. Most of the issues with this jersey, and all other Bonds 2001 game-used jerseys marketed by Barry Bonds Authenticated, have been raised by members of the Game Used Universe Forum, and we encourage bidders to read more at this link (which includes many 2001 on-the-field Bonds images for comparison):   

In summary, the most compelling reason to dismiss this piece as something other than a 2001 Bonds game-used jersey is the absence of additional tagging, most notably a size tag. There are numerous photos available of Bonds on the field in 2001 (that are illustrated in the above link and elsewhere) with his shirt tail visible, and in every instance, one can clearly see a size tag, as well as additional customization tags located near the manufacturer’s labels. Furthermore, all other examples of 2001 San Francisco Giants jerseys (both home and away) belonging to different players, have size tags. Another major discrepancy is the Barry Bonds Authenticated label found on this jersey. Once again, all other available photos of Bonds on the field in 2001 with his shirt tail visible clearly show a different Barry Bonds Authenticated tag. In the tags seen on the photos, the year “2001″ is not present. It simply reads “Barry Bonds Authenticated,” which is different from the tag present on the offered jersey.

In addition to the empirical evidence, and what can only be described as a bizarre twist in the matter, Barry Bonds himself, through his business agent, has stated in writing to REA that all of the Barry Bonds “game-used” items marketed and sold through the business entity known as Barry Bonds Authenticated, are, in fact, not authentic. Of special note, Barry Bonds claims to still have all his 2001 game-worn jerseys. We believe him. Barry Bonds Authenticated was run by Steve Hoskins, who at one time was Bonds’ best friend. In 2003, Bonds and Hoskins had a falling out, the reasons of which have never been fully disclosed. It was shortly after the two had parted ways that Bonds began accusing Hoskins of selling memorabilia without his authorization and in some cases of forging Bonds’ signature on material. Hoskins countered by stating that Bonds was just trying to protect himself because he failed to declare any of the income he received from Barry Bonds Authenticated to the IRS. Whatever the truth was, the accusations did call into question some or all of the material sold by the Bonds camp under the Barry Bonds Authenticated name.

Robert Edward Auctions became directly involved in the “he said/she said” feud between Bonds and Hoskins in 2006. In May of that year, REA offered a Barry Bonds 2001 uniform ensemble (Lot 1071) that was comprised of a jersey, pants, hat, cleats, jacket, and wrist bands, all of which carried the special Barry Bonds patch and hologram label.

The items were purchased by our consignor from memorabilia dealer Brad Horne, who also provided a letter stating that all of the items were purchased directly from Steve Hoskins of Barry Bonds Authenticated.  Days before the auction closed, REA was contacted by Jeff Bernstein of Pro Access, a Miami-based company that was handling Bonds’ marketing business. In an email to REA president Robert Lifson, Bernstein informed our company that all of the Bonds items offered in the lot were not authentic:

I showed the auction that you are featuring to Barry again, and he is comfortable saying with 100% certainty that these items are fakes. He is in possession of all of [sic] 2001 game used uniforms, and we have this confirmed through the clubhouse equipment manager and the jersey supplier.

Bernstein also said that Bonds had been “totally shocked” to hear these items had been purchased from Mr. Hoskins. “In his entire relationship with Mr. Hoskins, he never authorized or allowed him to sell an entire uniform from any season, much less 2001.” All of the information was provided in an addendum to bidders, and while this naturally put a damper on the bidding, the uniform was appreciated for what it was, and sold with full disclosure of the authenticity issues, including the assertion by Barry Bonds himself that the uniform was not authentic, and that he is in possession of all of his 2001 game-used jerseys. Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal article entitled Barry Bonds’ Other Campaign: Slugger Says Bats, Jerseys Aren’t Authentic published May 19, 2006 that featured the uniform:

Back to the jersey offered here: With all due respect to the desires of collectors that own these jerseys, the sellers who have sold them as authentic game-used jerseys, and the authenticators that have guaranteed this to be the case, the fact that the physical attributes of the offered jersey do not match up to known authentic examples leads us to one simple conclusion: this jersey was not worn by Bonds during the 2001 season, despite the provenance direct from Barry Bonds Authenticated, the notations on the jerseys itself, and statements to the contrary on the issued COA. We can’t explain how these jerseys could have been marketed as game-worn home run jerseys. We could not possibly know if Barry Bonds was personally involved in their sale, or if he is a victim (which seems very likely to us). If Bonds is telling the truth and does retain possession of all of his 2001 jerseys, than the fraud perpetrated by Steve Hoskins and Barry Bonds Authenticated is certainly one of the most notable ever perpetrated in the memorabilia world. As we have seen, the physical evidence certainly seems to support Bonds’ assertion. Unfortunately, countless examples of Bonds 2001 game-used jerseys, bats, hats, cleats, gloves, etc., have been sold, both publicly and privately, in the past eleven years, many for large sums of money. The cloud over many of these items appears well deserved and may never disperse. The 2001 “home run jerseys”, however, are in a league of their own in terms of significance and value. Despite our opinion that this 2001 jersey was never worn by Bonds, we are confident it still has great historic value, though it may sell for a fraction of what an authentic game-used jersey would command. It is our belief that these 2001 Bonds “fake” jerseys (if, indeed, they are not authentic as we believe) will always be appreciated for the fascinating historical significance they do have. They are a part of the puzzle of the much larger controversial story that was Bonds’ career.

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