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The Cautionary Tale of GAI

I first started selling my surplus autographs on eBay back in 1997, when I was still just a collector with a full time job. In those days, I had few competitors, and zero concern about competitors selling fakes. But only a year or two later, the autograph market and just about every market on eBay had blown up. It was so lucrative selling autographs on eBay that it attracted forgers by the hundreds and eventually thousands.

For the next several years, eBay became flooded with fakes, dragging down the selling prices of real autographs too. (It’s a good thing I launched in 1999, because if I had to depend on eBay for my autograph sales, I’d have been in serious trouble.) For a while, eBay did nothing about the problem. Eventually, they recruited third party authenticators to give potential buyers “quick opinions” for fees, and also created special subcategories for “Manufacturer Authenticated” autographs. This was a critical mistake, as this category included not just legit manufacturers like TriStar and Upper Deck Authenticated, but third party authenticators including GAI and PSA/DNA. Yes, the now-notorious GAI was for many years listed as an “approved authenticator” by eBay, which was basically a written invitation for abuse by the dishonest and greedy.

I have no direct proof of this since it obviously all happened behind closed doors. But it’s pretty clear from all the fake autographs out there with GAI stickers that someone at that company was knowingly authenticating fake autographs, in cooperation with unscrupulous eBay autograph dealers. The fake GAI autographs of Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Tiger Woods and David Wright — just to name five of the most commonly found forgeries — are still on the market being bought by naive or uninformed customers. Incidentally, the “Manufacturer Authenticated” subcategories still exist on eBay today, but all restrictions have been removed, making them ordinary subcategories.

After years of seeing fake GAI autographs proliferate on eBay, I finally decided to make a big stink about this scandal in 2007 on eBay discussion boards and elsewhere. Guess what, I got blasted and flamed by numerous collectors and dealers, who basically said, “How dare you criticize such an upstanding company” and then proceeded to hurl unfounded accusations at my business, credentials and personal integrity. Of course, four years later, after the crash and burn of GAI (since replaced by Global Authentics under “new” ownership), I feel fully vindicated. Yes, I told you so. If you didn’t listen, too bad. To those in the know, most GAI “authenticated” autographs are now radioactive — the exceptions being those in which GAI set up at TriStar or other paid signings before their reputation went downhill.

Just think — at one time, GAI was considered near equal to JSA and PSA/DNA in reputation. If this could happen to GAI, it could eventually happen to JSA and PSA/DNA. These companies have much more in common than you might think. Both JSA and PSA/DNA have massive conflicts of interest, and there’s a very fine line between a conflict of interest and downright corruption. GAI crossed that line constantly. I’ve heard plenty of rumors of similar behavior by JSA and PSA/DNA. As far as Global Authentics, I’m sorry, but any company with any link whatsoever to the old GAI outfit probably can’t be trusted. You would think that a “new” company would at least completely change their name and image, but Global Authentics has done neither. The fact that eBay still has a link to Global Authentics is unfortunate, given that eBay has done an otherwise admirable job in removing countless bad autograph sellers in recent years.


11 Responses

  1. the two people involved with the scandal in 09 have no affilation with gallc. do your homework and quit bashing thoes guys at global its a great prof. company.

    • Really, Tom?

      Did you come across this article?

      It’s common knowledge among autograph collectors and dealers not associated with these companies that everything GAI or Global — regardless of when it was “authenticated” is suspect. Period. Even eBay has gotten wise to their utter incompetence. If you want to keep wasting your money on GAI autographs, be my guest.


    • By the way, don’t you think it’s awfully convenient that Global blames two people who are no longer working there for the thousands of questionable autographs they “authenticated”? Have they ever offered to clean up their mess by buying up all the questionable autographs that they blamed on these two people? After all, they were GAI employees, isn’t it their responsibility still?

  2. I’ve purchased three GAI items over the years — a Tim Duncan jersey, a Pau Gasol basketball and a Patrick Ewing basketball. I’m very confident the Duncan and Gasol items are legit. There is no way in hell the Ewing ball is. He’s a rare signer so I jumped at the chance to buy it. Now that I’ve gotten familiar with his autograph, I know it’s a forgery. So I refuse to buy any more of their items. It’s just too expensive to take any chances.

  3. GAI is a joke,I too jumped on the opportunity on some cheap signed memorabilia (manning mini helmet,Harrison jersey) both was bogus after getting more familiar with their signatures.Since then Ive learned Manning’s signature inside and out and how it very slightly changes throughout his career and Marvin….well he only signed “free” signatures early in his career then got to where he’d only sign for a few companies like Mounted Memories and ESP.At least this is what I proclaim based on what Ive seen.Oh and anyone seen Andrew Luck’s signature….so simple its being faked all over eBay and guess what authentication company is on all of it????

  4. […] GAI…. The Cautionary Tale of GAI | autographsforsaledotcom __________________ Trade Link […]

  5. i would have been better off with out this article….. screw you theo… i was ignorant in my bliss

    • So you would have rather continued wasting your money on GAI autographs?

      • Of course not!!! I’m glad to know!!! But there is a side probably due to the fact that I don’t ever see myself selling my autographs that wishes I was still oblivious!!! But not really!!! It just sucks that from what I had seen they were suppose to be top four!!!! Guess its like with anything else I guess, crooks no matter where u turn

      • Certainly there is more fraud in the autograph business than almost any other. All I can do is try to educate my customers and potential customers via this blog and my personal interaction. Unfortunately, eBay refuses to take appropriate action by banning all GAI items. Therefore people will be defrauded over and over again until they do.

  6. […] The Cautionary Tale of GAI | autographsforsaledotcom Third paragraph down talks abt fake mannings are common […]

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