Investigation: Autographed Michael Jackson Memorabilia May Be PhonyAn auction featuring autographed memorabilia from the King of Pop garnered more than $5 million in one day.By Joel Grover, Phil Drechsler and Chris Henao
Three years after his death, Michael Jackson remains the "King of Pop." Fans are willing to pay big bucks for almost anything with Jackson’s autograph. But an NBC4 I-Team Investigation found evidence that some of these autographs being sold may be fakes.
Acting on a tip, the I-Team attended a Dec. 2 auction at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills of Jackson memorabilia owned by the singer’s longtime costume designers Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush.The auction garnered more than $5 million in one day. Buyers included Lady Gaga, who tweeted that she bought 55 items, including a $180,000 jacket with Jackson’s signature.Experts say many of the items sold for high prices because they were supposedly autographed by Jackson himself. But five nationally-known autograph authenticators tell the I-Team that at least some of the auctioned autographs are probably fakes."I would definitely stake my reputation on the fact that these autographs are not authentic," autograph authenticator Roger Epperson said after examining signatures from 50 of the nearly 300 signed items recently auctioned at Julien’s.Epperson is widely known as one of the nation’s experts on Michael Jackson’s autograph. He authenticates autographs for some of the nation’s biggest auction houses, and sells signed memorabilia himself.One of the items Epperson examined was an autographed jacket (pictured below) from Jackson’s “Bad” Tour, bought for $4,375 by Beverly Hills dentist Joseph Goodman. "I am a big Michael Jackson fan," Goodman told the I-Team. "I wanted something signed.""There’s a zero percent chance that that’s an authentic signature of Michael Jackson," Epperson said after examining the signature on the jacket Goodman bought. "The slant of the 'M' in 'Jackson' leans towards the right. A real one leans more to the left. The shapes are wrong, the slants are wrong, the size is wrong."Experts say authenticating autographs is not science, but rather an expertise based on years of studying signatures. So the I-Team asked four more well-known authenticators to examine 11 autographed items from the Julien’s auction, including PSA/DNA, a company which authenticates for Christie’s Auction House and eBay.Three of the four experts said it was their opinions that all 11 signatures were probably fakes. "Likely Not Genuine" is how PSA/DNA characterized the 11 autographs. The fourth expert said eight of the autograph samples we sent were "not likely to be genuine," and on three of them he was "unable to render an opinion."The I-Team spoke with Michael Bush, Jackson’s longtime designer and the owner of the items auctioned at Julien’s. The I-Team asked Bush, who made millions from the Dec. 2 auction, why he thought experts were saying the autographs on his memorabilia were fake."I don’t know how to respond to it," he said. "I’m going to fake a bunch of signatures, a bunch of clothes, to destroy my reputation for 25 years of working for Michael? No, no."The owner of Julien’s Auctions, Darren Julien, told the I-Team he believes the autographs he sold are genuine. "They come from someone who worked very closely with Michael Jackson … the people who made the items for Michael Jackson," Julien said.The I-Team asked Julien to provide us with the names of any experts his auction used to authenticate the autographed items he sold for more than $1.5 million on Dec. 2. Julien told us to contact Laura Woolley, owner of The Collector’s Lab.But Woolley told the I-Team she’s an appraiser of auction items, not an autograph authenticator. And she said one of the authenticators used by the I-Team, PSA/DNA, is reputable."I think they do great work," she said of PSA/DNA.Woolley did say she’s looked at many of the autographed items in the Julien’s auction and thinks they’re genuine autographs. "I have no reason to doubt Michael Bush. The provenance of these signatures is solid," Woolley said.Many autograph experts and buyers disagree, and are posting their comments on websites like Autograph Magazine Live."All but a few autographs in the Tompkins and Bush sale (at Julien’s) are so bad they don’t even resemble Michael Jackson’s signature," said Steve Cyrkin, editor of Autograph Magazine Live.Those comments appear to have caught the attention of the FBI. Two of the I-Team’s sources said they have been contacted by the FBI about the allegedly fake autographs, and said that the agency requested interviews with them. FBI Spokesperson Laura Eimiller would "neither confirm nor deny" that the agency is investigating the autographs sold in the recent auction.The brewing controversy has some purchasers of Jackson memorabilia feeling buyer’s remorse, including Goodman, who bought that signed jacket. "If it’s a fake signature, I don’t think I’m interested anymore" in keeping the jacket, Goodman said.Julien has told the I-Team if any customer questions the authenticity of an autographed item they bought, he will give them their money back.
I wanted to point out that four (4) experts of authenticators all stated that the signatures are not valid. It is stated on this blog post very well how they believed that the signatures are not Michael's. Here is the link to the information -
In that blog post, you will read a list of the credentials of each expert and in my honest opinion, these experts are legit.
I know that I stated that I will not bash the Estate executors this year and I will not. However, I do wonder how the executors cannot do something legally against Mr. Bush and Julien's Auctions? They allow fraud to happen before with the Michael album and I think they would have learn their lesson and making sure that they would do something about situations like this mess from occurring. We have to understand that the Michael Jackson Estate is not interested in doing the right thing for Michael's legacy. In fact, according to their statement, it seems that they do not seem to care about any of this.
Michael's behaviors and demeanor shows that he was not capable of harming children. I think that Mr. Mesereau and a lot of people fail to understand that the public are not bright. If the public will believe a complete stranger over the very person who lived the life, then what does that say about that person who believes the stranger? We live in a world of uneducated, not well read, stupid idiots. Plain and simple. It does not take a rocket scientist to tell a person that Michael did not abuse a child. That is not his nature. There are so many ways for people to get the correct information but they refuse to research and find out for themselves. This is what Mr. Mesereau does not understand. When Mr. Mesereau contribute and defended Mr. Sullivan's book, he gave this man credibility. In a way, by Mr. Mesereau actions, he told the fans that studied, learned and researched about Michael, to go and effed themselves. That the information that we, the fans, not the bagwagons, the actual true fans, know about Michael means nothing to Mr. Mesereau. That is how I take the shade and I can never truly respect Mr. Mesereau for what he did. I do not care if he is this great lawyer. Any defense attorney who had the child abuse case would have won because Michael was innocent. If Mr. Mesereau wanted people to know the truth about the case, he should fought to have the trial televised or write a book about it. However, like Michael's own handlers, his lawyers failed on him as well.
***Update: I have since changed my mind about Mr. Mesereau. Please read it here -
Ms. Alhart stated to me that she would forward the inquiry to Mr. Vogel and he will get with his answer soon. When I emailed her back to check up on Mr. Vogel's answer, she responded to me. Ms. Alhart stated that she spoke to Mr. Vogel and he stated that he was unable to take on any media requests at that time because he was doing his Dissertation. In doing his Dissertation, he had no time to actually participate in any media requests, MJ theme requests included.
(I wanted to point out that at times when I request to do Q&A sessions with various people for this blog, those people do assume that I am part of the media. I have to tell these people that I am a fan of Michael's, I am not part of the media and I do this blog independently.)
That was that..... so I thought. After I had the email exchange with Ms. Alhart, I had a feeling that something was not right. I could not put my finger on it but something was not right. I went to Mr. Vogel's twitter account some three weeks ago and things that I saw really angered me.