95% Of Cast Autographed Movie Posters Are Fake

If you actively collect sports autographs, you know that fakes are a huge problem. What you may not know is the problem is probably worse when it comes to entertainment autographs, especially of modern movie stars.

Of all the commonly sold autographed items on the market, cast autographed movie posters are the most likely to be fake. Obviously, there is great demand, and therefore strong incentive to commit fraud. Who wouldn’t want a cast autographed poster of their favorite movie?

The problem is in the difficulty of actually obtaining such an item. Think about it logically. When do movie posters get released? Typically no more than a few months before the scheduled release date of the movie.

Once a movie’s script is finalized, it typically takes at least several months to film, and another several months to edit and produce. Then it often sits for months awaiting its release date, which is carefully timed by Hollywood to maximize the box office.

So where are the actors and actresses when a movie’s posters are first released? Usually they are scattered all over the country, if not the world, because filming has long been completed and the movie is in post-production or “in the can” awaiting release. The actors are on to their next project or filming their TV show or relaxing at home. They aren’t hanging out together somewhere, conveniently waiting to be approached by autograph dealers with posters.

What about conventions like San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest pop culture event in the world? Well, I haven’t missed a Comic-Con in about 15 years. I’ve attended more movie signings than I can remember, as in several dozen. And guess what — entire movie casts almost NEVER show up together. Usually it’s just one or two of the biggest stars and maybe the director, not entire casts.

What about red carpet premieres in Hollywood? Some are accessible, some are not, but even there, some or even most of the cast may attend. Rarely all. And only some of the actors will take the trouble to walk over and sign on the red carpet. At the 2011 Ides of March premiere I attended in Hollywood, the only main star who signed was George Clooney, and not everyone there even got him.

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If it’s a big name, you’re talking about a chaotic mob scene. You wouldn’t even want to TRY getting a movie poster (especially a full size one) signed because there’s a much greater chance of it getting damaged than signed. The star probably will grab the first pen he or she sees, and scribble with it for a while, then walk away. That’s exactly what Clooney did.

When I see all these cast autographed movie posters on eBay, Amazon and elsewhere neatly signed, signatures perfectly spaced in the same color pen, I almost don’t even need to look at the signatures to know they’re fake. In my opinion, at least 95% of cast autographed movie posters on the market are forged. If you’re shopping for one, use extreme caution because more than likely you’re about to be burned.

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An Open Letter to Mounted, Schwartz, Steiner, TriStar, UDA and Other Autographed Memorabilia Companies

Gentlemen,

Selling autographed sports memorabilia is your primary business and mine too. When anyone buys a fake autograph, that’s money that in some cases could be coming out of your pocket, my pocket or both of our pockets.

In case you didn’t notice, the problem with fake autographs on Amazon and eBay is out of control. The situation is as bad as it was before the FBI’s Operation Bullpen and Foul Ball operations many years ago, when both Amazon and eBay were small Internet companies. Yet for some reason, you don’t seem to care about this problem, and I do.

Which is funny because you stock hundreds of different items signed by dozens of different players; I stock thousands of different items signed by hundreds of different players. You deal mainly in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL autographs. So do I, but I also deal heavily in “minor” sports like boxing, golf, soccer and tennis.

Therefore, the fact that Amazon and eBay are flooded with forgeries of Troy Aikman, Larry Bird, John Elway, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Albert Pujols and Lawrence Taylor — just to name some of the most commonly faked names — affects me only a little. But companies like yours are paying these players to sign, or trying to get customers to pay them to sign at shows. It affects you a whole lot more.

When you call or e-mail me about upcoming signings, I look at your prices and usually laugh. Because you’re asking me to pay more WHOLESALE for autographs that are being sold for less on Amazon or eBay at RETAIL. Yeah, they’re fake, but guess what — people are buying them.

I’ve been selling autographs full time for more than 13 years. My business is booming. Maybe yours is too, but from what I’m hearing, it’s probably not. Regardless, we all have room for improvement, and doing something about all the fakes on the market would represent a win-win-win for wholesale companies, retail companies and end consumers.

In case you haven’t noticed, the FBI is too busy with terrorism and other national security issues to concern itself with the relatively trivial crime of forging fake autographs. I have voicemail and e-mail messages dating back to 2010 from FBI agents who knew what was going on and how bad the problem was, and promised to investigate. I’m still waiting. So forget the FBI, it may be a decade before they bother busting anyone, if then.

The media? They are either too naive or too worried about being sued to blow the lid off this issue on their own. Yes, if companies like yours would be proactive about just how bad the problem was, the media would gladly help you spread the word.

Amazon or eBay? Don’t be silly. Both companies are happily collecting sales commissions from all the fakes that are being sold on their websites. If confronted with enough evidence from player agents, they might actually take action in an effort to avoid being sued themselves. But until then, they’ll just look the other way.

So I understand that you are all relatively small companies, and you compete with each other. Maybe you’re understaffed already. Maybe you tried in the past to raise the red flags and nothing happened. Maybe you’re worried about being sued. Honestly none of these concerns should stop you from getting involved immediately.

I have spent countless hours trying to publicize this problem in the media, get law enforcement involved and alert Amazon and eBay. But there’s only so much I can do by myself. Your companies arrange signings with players via their agents. I don’t. If you want to take action, I am eager and willing to help start cleaning up this mess. Call me or e-mail me and I’ll give you all the information and contacts I have, which is substantial.

If you want to continue doing nothing and watch this industry sink deeper and deeper, go right ahead. Either way, I’ll still be here selling autographs no matter what.