The Authentic Experience
In the summer of 2007, American Royal Arts sued Frank Caiazzo. The leading Beatles autograph expert, Caiazzo had given his opinion that a "Revolver" album [pictured] that ARA sold as signed by the Beatles was a forgery. It was considered a battle of good versus evil by many of us in the autograph hobby.
ARA's lawsuit against Caiazzo probably didn't work out as its president, Jerry Gladstone, had planned. It made the mainstream autograph hobby aware of galleries like his in tourist spots that cater to unwary and affluent fans, primarily selling forgeries. It caught the attention of the FBI, leading to an ongoing investigation into Gladstone, ARA, their main authenticator, Christopher Morales, and others. Victims became aware that they had been sold expensive forgeries by ARA and similar galleries. There were investigative reports on "ABC News 20/20" and "Inside Edition" over altered photos that ARA used to sell forged guitars. Caiazzo counter-sued ARA and Gladstone personally. And it ultimately led to ARA filing for a Florida bankruptcy of sorts—an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors.
The legal battles between Caiazzo and Gladstone/ARA are finally over. On April 13, 2011, the judge overseeing ARA's assignment approved a settlement between the parties. And while, as usual, the terms of the settlement cannot be disclosed by the parties, you can bet it included a major six-figure payment to Caiazzo. He had no reason to settle for less and he wasn't going to. Gladstone and ARA were the ones that needed to settle, almost certainly because of concerns about what might come out in the lawsuit, especially in light of the FBI investigation.
So while I wouldn't say justice was served—how do you put a price on almost four years of pain that Caiazzo and his family didn't deserve?—that dark period is over for Frank. He can breathe a sigh of relief and go on with his life.
If anyone deserves it, Frank does.
Frank Caiazzo is a hero. He didn't cower like many would against such a wealthy and vicious opponent as Gladstone. He didn't retract his opinion that the "Revolver" was forged. Frank fought the battle for all of us, for the sake of the autograph hobby and fans and collectors everywhere. Try as Gladstone could to grind Frank into the ground, to ruin his reputation and his business...he failed. Frank didn't back down, at great personal cost.
I said it before and I'll say it again...
Thank You Frank Caiazzo.