When bidding on autographs of dead celebrities such as Michael Jackson, the bidder should beware of the massive number of Michael Jackson forgeries being sold or auctioned every day around the world.
Due to the volatility of the stock market, many investors are putting their money into so-called "hard assets" like celebrity autographs that only increase in value over time.
But the increased demand for Michael Jackson autographs has spawned an entire industry of scam artists who seek to benefit from the lucrative sales of fake Jackson memorabilia.
Disgraced former Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has apparently fallen victim to one auction house in Nevada that deals in fake Michael Jackson memorabilia.
According to NBC Chicago, which obtained federal documents outlining charges of fraud and campaign funds misuse against Jackson Jr., "the former congressman spent thousands of campaign dollars on fan memorabilia including $4,600 on a Michael Jackson fedora and $4,000 on a Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen [autographed] guitar."
But according to autograph experts who make their living knowing the difference between real MJ autographs and fake ones, the items Jackson Jr. purchased are likely forgeries.
Jackson Jr. allegedly spent at least $22,700 on Michael Jackson memorabilia -- most of it forgeries.
Want to earn a quick million? Just scribble Michael Jackson's name on everyday household items and get a reputable auction house to sell them as authentic Jackson memorabilia.
That's what the Jackson family says happened recently when a large auction house based in Las Vegas was accused of peddling forged Michael Jackson memorabilia for $5 million. Out of the 600-plus MJ autographs up for auction in the entire lot, only one signed item was considered an authentic MJ autograph. Only one item.
That's laughable when you consider the hundreds of people who were ripped off on that day alone.
The controversy sparked an investigation by KNBC in Los Angeles, who confronted the auction house's owner about the discrepancies.
The owner (who I won't name) initially said that genuine MJ autographs, which were used to debunk fake autographs in his auction, were actually signed by Michael's bodyguard Miko Brando (son of acting legend Marlon Brando). But when presented with proof that the MJ autographs were real, the auction house owner said the autographs in his auction were signed while Michael was under the influence of drugs -- and that's why his signatures look so different. (LOL)
Pop singer Lady Gaga participated in that auction. She reportedly walked away with over $1 million in MJ memorabilia. Interestingly enough, Gaga avoided bidding on any of the 600-plus alleged MJ forgeries in the lot. This led to speculation that Lady Gaga was tipped off ahead of time to the forgeries.
But what about the innocent saps who were left holding fake MJ items? Apparently, they're on their own. The auction house owner publicly promised to refund the money of anyone who thought they purchased fake MJ autographs. But privately, victims who bid on the fake items are still getting the runaround.
And despite being tipped off to the fake items in the auction, the feds did nothing about it. Why? Because apparently, it isn't against the law to forge (or sell) the signature of a dead person.
But imagine what the outcry would be if an auction house sold fake Elvis Presley or Beatles memorabilia for millions of dollars in one day?
The auction house where Jesse Jackson Jr. purchased those fake Michael Jackson items are known to sell autographed forgeries.
And a quick peek at the company's website shows at least 20 Michael Jackson fake autographs still on sale for thousands of dollars each.
It will be difficult for the feds to continue to ignore this widespread problem -- especially since they now have known fake MJ memorabilia, purchased by Jesse Jackson Jr., in their possession.
Above are examples of fake Michael Jackson signatures from a recent auction (courtesy of Autographmagazine.com)
Below is an authentic Jackson autograph (courtesy of TheSignaturelibrary.com)