The one of a kind Upper Deck baseball card featuring autographs from Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner might not be so rare after all. The card was pulled from a pack of 2005 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts and features four of the five inductees into the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. A great pull ? if it was real.This card (shown here) first attracted attention back in November 2005 when collector Barry Scott of Guntown, Mississippi put the card up for auction and sold it for a cool $85,000. But then (this article surfaced recently.
It seems that Kevin Demitros, the 50-year-old airport planner from Milwaukee who purchased the card, was watching an HBO Special on Sports Memorabilia Fraud and shockingly saw his card's authenticity called into question. The same card that he had figured was a "retirement investment." And why wouldn't he? The card WAS from Upper Deck. Upper Deck!.
Below is an excerpt from the article:.Demitros watched an HBO special on fraud in the sports memorabilia industry and saw a scan of his card being scrutinized by someone convicted in connection with a federal forgery investigation. The man claimed two of the card's autographs were fakes.Demitros is now involved in a dispute with the card's manufacturer, Carlsbad-based Upper Deck Co.
, which stands behind its products but said it is willing to have an independent third party look at the card to determine its authenticity.Three authentication companies that studied a scan of it said they believed the Ruth and Johnson autographs might not be genuine."It's a huge question.
It's an opinion," Fitzsimmons said of trying to verify autographs that old.First off, I hope that the signatures are real. Any fake memorabilia is bad for the hobby. It certainly seems that Upper Deck will do the right thing here and take care of Kevin if the signatures in fact turn out to be fake (they better or they will have a PR nightmare and probably a lawsuit).
There is, however, an important lesson to be learned from all of this - no one can ever say with 100% certainty that an autograph is real.Hopefully Kevin's story will draw more attention to the topic. Upper Deck, the premier card manufacturer, a company that has it's own authentication service that employs industry experts, still may have missed a forgery?on one of their most valuable cards ever!.On the Upper Deck site they claim:.Autograph forgeries make victims out of unsuspecting fans.
Upper Deck Authenticated ® became the first company to find an answer to the forgery problem by creating an airtight five-step authentication system that assures fans are getting genuine autographs. Today the company has autograph relationships with the game's biggest stars and produces some of the finest memorabilia on the market.And yet arguably their most important card ever, one that sold for $85,000, included 2 alleged forgeries!.This is not a new thing - I was exposed first hand (on a much smaller level of course) to this last year when a buddy of mine obtained a Mike Vick autograph at the Pro Bowl only to be accused by the buyer of the item that PSA said that it was fake, costing him a sale and hurting his reputation. It illustrated to me first hand that you are never going to know for sure, that the best you can do is pay for an opinion. I went on to lay out an argument about the damage that autograph authentication is doing for the industry ? not because experts are giving their opinion about the authenticity of an autograph, but because people were being led to believe that they should treat that opinion as a FACT, driving up autograph prices to unreasonable levels for the average collector.
This story just adds to the argument laid out in that piece ? the only way to truly know if an autograph in your collection is real is to get it yourself. Anything else ? a certificate of authenticity or even a certification from PSA/DNA ? does not guarantee an autographs authenticity, it merely increases the likelihood of it being real..Adam McFarland owns SportsLizard.
com - an online marketplace for buying and selling sports collectibles.SportsLizard.com recently won honorable mention in the Microsoft Start Something Amazing Awards and was featured in the February 2006 issue of Tuff Stuff Magazine.
By: Adam McFarland