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Authenticity Concerns Over Signed "Beatles '65" in Julien's Auctions May 17 Sale

Julien's Auctions is scheduled to auction Lot 685, a band-signed "Beatles '65" album at Saturday's Music Icons Sale.

It was authenticated in 2005 by the world's top Beatles expert; a remarkably sharp and honest man. It has powerful provenance. It sold in 2005 to an astute, long-time Beatles collector, reportedly for six-figures.

But on Monday, Roger Epperson shared some of his concerns about the album with me. We spent a lot of time since then investigating the Beatles '65, and things just aren't adding up for us.

Maybe the album was genuinely signed by the Beatles. We don't think so. We think Julien's should pull it from the auction pending further study.

Julien's auction listing discription of the album:

Lot 685 of 724:
THE BEATLES SIGNED BEATLES '65 ALBUM

A Beatles signed Beatles '65 album sleeve. Signed by all four members of the band circa late 1964-early 1965. The Capitol Records released stereo LP sleeve is signed on the front cover. Paul McCartney signed "Beatles/ Paul McCartney/ XXX," and Ringo Starr signed "The Beatles/ Ringo Starr." George Harrison and John Lennon have each signed his name. Housed in a frame with a “gold” vinyl copy of the record.

The album was given to a CBS Television executive from another CBS employee who attended a meet-and-greet with The Beatles and obtained the signatures.

In general, The Beatles signed the back of their album sleeves and most signed albums are early British Parlophone Records releases. The reason for this is that once Beatlemania hit the band was not as accessible and therefore signed US Capitol released LPs, or any Beatles album released after 1964, are extremely difficult to find. In his 2005 evaluation of this album, Beatles expert, Perry Cox called the album "...one of the finest known signed Beatles album in the world."

Accompanied by letters of authenticity from Perry Cox and Frank Caiazzo, whose expertise was paraphrased in this description, and a letter of authenticity from a family member of the CBS executive who was originally given the album.

28 3/4 by 41 1/4 inches

Main photo in listing:

Large photo we found online (click to enlarge):

Letter of provenance by Sean Fanning, who sold the album to Perry Cox in 2005:

You can view genuine examples of Summer 1964 to Summer 1965 Beatles autographs to compare the album's autographs to here.

These are some of our main concerns about the album:

1) Beatles '65 is a U.S. release that came out on December 15, 1964. It was supposedly signed at a meet-and-greet for a California CBS executive. The Beatles' last 1964 U.S. concert was Sept. 20. They didn't return to the U.S. until Aug. 13, 1965, the day the "Help!" L.P. was released in the U.S. We couldn't find any meet-and-greets, let alone one a CBS executive is likely to have attended.

(The Beatles were in the Bahamas to film "Help!" from Aug. 22 to Mar. 10., but meet and greets would have been unlikely there, and I couldn't find any.)

2) The signatures have circa 1963 characteristics.

3) Having "Beatles" written on the cover once, let alone twice, is highly atypical.

4) In some cases there is writing in the album's nicks and scratches. Since the album was supposedly signed new, that's a significant concern.

For those who don't know, I'm not a professional authenticator. Roger, however, is. He's the leading specialist authenticator in popular music autographs. I looked at what Roger pointed out to me about the autographs, and confirmed it against known reliable exemplars, and examples of signed Beatles memorabilia.

This is extremely important:

Everyone makes mistakes or decisions that other reputable experts may disagree on. Even the world's top experts. Frank Caiazzo, the most respected Beatles autograph authenticator, is the expert who authenticated this album in 2005. He's also a good friend; one I highly trust and admire. The forgery industry attacks Frank every chance they get, just like they do Roger Epperson, Steve Grad of PSA/DNA and James Spence of JSA. The fraudsters know how to inflame crowds, and there's a good chance some will, to further their interests. Don't fall for it.

Now Roger will go over his concerns with you in the first comments.

Views: 4594

Comment by roger epperson on May 15, 2014 at 2:40pm

Well, Steve, you covered many of my concerns.  The letter by Sean Fanning, the person who sold the album to Perry Cox, doesn't hold water.  He states that his father was an executive at CBS in Washington, DC, and another CBS executive, from California, got it signed at some "meet and greet" and gifted it to him.  But the album was released in mid-December, 1964, and there were no known visits by the Beatles to the US from September of 1964 until their 1965 tour in mid 1965.

Frank and Perry Cox both state in their COAs that it was signed between late 1964 and early 1965.  This album is a US release of the album. If the Beatles weren't in the US at the time, how, where and when could this LP have been signed?  The Beatles were in the UK playing concerts in London from late 1965 through January 15, 1964. After that, they flew to the Bahamas to film "Help" in Feb 1965. They did not visit the US. So what would have to have happened for it to be signed at a meet and greet like it says in Fanning's letter is that the executive of CBS in California would have had to the UK with a Capitol records (US release) of the album and had it signed at a meet and greet in UK.  What would CBS have to do with the Beatles in the UK? And since UK Beatles releases were by Parlophone, you couldn't buy the Capitol release there.  So why would someone bring an album all that way, carry it to show and get it signed, hold it through the concert, pack it up and fly it back to US to send it to a person in DC?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I learned from Kenneth Rendell in the late 90's to trace the story back and if it doesn't add up ask questions.

Now let's look at the signatures:

The signatures look to be from the mid to late 1963 by their characteristics.  The album was released in mid Dec 1964.  Frank Caiazzo taught me long ago that Paul almost never wrote "Beatles" on an item that already had the words "Beatles" on it (like an album) and since then I have only found two examples of this ever happening. If authentic, this would be the third.

They also did not put xxx's under their names post mid 1964 except on a few very rare occasions. Besides, xxx's represented kisses, and since in 1964-65 it's fair to presume that CBS executives in the US were male, why would Paul put them under his signature? 

I could only find one image of George signing his name on one line since late 1963, except on a check or document, and he nearly always signed his whole name in the clear area of any album he signed.  The last part of the autograph on this album goes into the dark area and that is the oddest part of his signature on this LP.

Lastly the Ringo and John signatures are of the shape of 1963, early 1964 shape and I cannot find an example of where two of the Beatles signed "The Beatles" on any item ever.

What bothers me even more is the fact that if you blow up the image of the album you can see that 50% of the time the signatures were scuffed by the marks on the brand new album and 50% of time the ink from the signatures goes OVER the scuffs of the BRAND NEW ALBUM.  If the album is brand new as it would have been; how could there have been so many scuff marks on it that the signed over?

Now for the record I have never had the record in front of me but with the things I have seen I wouldn't have to as it wouldn't change my view of what I have seen.

If someone can prove my findings wrong, please tell me and everyone here how this LP could have happened.  If I can be proven wrong I will gladly apologize and say I am wrong but until then I leave you with this to discuss.

Comment by Ryan Maxwell on May 15, 2014 at 2:53pm

Scary that a six figure item could have such concerns!

Comment by Bruce Juice on May 15, 2014 at 3:05pm

The chance of Julien's actually pulling this from the auction are about 1 percent. (Remember all the Michael Jackson fakes they left in?)  UNLESS either Frank or Perry Cox changes their mind and disavows their original LOA.  I hope either or both of them have a chance to hear what Steve and Roger have to say and it would be very interesting to hear their responses. Out of all the arguments for "fake" the most compelling one is the 1963 and earlier characteristics of the sigs.

Comment by Josh Board on May 15, 2014 at 5:22pm

Wow, this is some interesting stuff. I would also like to add....why in the world, would ANYBODY get something signed, just to "give it" to another employee. Let's think about that for a quick second. When I worked at a radio station, I sometimes got items signed for people (if it were bands I didn't care about getting something signed from). If you're talking about The Who, Stones, Beatles, Zep...nobody is getting an item signed, and "giving" it to anybody else.

Comment by Ryan Maxwell on May 15, 2014 at 5:27pm
That's not necessarily true. The Beatles were for the younger generation back then and autographs didn't carry the value they do today. If an exec, likely older, had an opportunity to get something signed for a younger coworker or someone with kids who were fans, it is very possible. But wouldn't they then be personalized to this specific person? Without knowing the real specifics, it would be hard to disprove the story. Easier to concentrate on the facts mentioned by Roger.
Comment by Mike T on May 15, 2014 at 5:28pm
Healthy debate is good in this hobby, but unfortunately it doesn't matter how "real" an item is, if a leading authenticator thinks it's real and it sells at a reputable auction house for six figures, it's as real as it gets. Opinions are the driving force behind everything in this field, we just have to accept that not everything hanging on our walls, no matter how many people have certified it, is 100% real.
Comment by Ryan Maxwell on May 15, 2014 at 5:32pm
That's why I typically only hang items I obtained personally. I may collect others, but I always have that doubt in my head. I like having the JSA or psa certification because while that doesn't make the autograph more real, it lessons the change of a forgery and the item retains it's value. We may debate items with LOA's and their authenticity, but once certed, it is hard to argue the items value, authentic or not.
Comment by Josh Board on May 15, 2014 at 10:53pm

Great points, you guys. Yeah, that is true, Ryan. Back then lots of people got autographs for others, without thinking of the value, etc. Although now I switch to this argument -- wouldn't it be easy to track down that said employee did work for that network? The name should check out, and the person that sold it should be able to prove they were related to that person. It's kind of like saying somebody had a cousin that was a security guard at Oakland Colliseum, and they got the signed U2 record on May 5, 1992. You look it up and yes...they did play there at that time, but...where's the proof of the security guards employment?

Now, that being said -- I do have one thing in favor of it being real. IF somebody was going to forge this item -- obviously, they did a kick ass job with the signatures. They look really, really good. Yet, why write "Beatles" in two "different" hands? When you do stuff like that, it's more ways for experts to detect flaws. For example, they've done stories about how autographs are worth less when they're personalized -- but the opposite is true for the big, big, older names. You feel a lot more comfortable seeing a To Gary, my pal, Babe Ruth" because it's less likely to have been forged, and nobody really cares that your name isn't Gary (the way it would look goofy on your wall if it were a current baseball player, but signed to somebody else). So, that seems like an unnecessary thing to do, and especially TWICE!!!

Comment by Dane Muramoto on May 16, 2014 at 12:23am

I fully disagree on the personalized older signatures being more comforting. I think most times, a personalized signature would have been put on display or shown to friends/family/visitors. That would naturally decrease the likelihood of survival.

As for this album. Knowing nothing of the Beatles, I would be inclined to agree it couldn't have been signed during the time frame due to the signing over damage, concern. That's basically the reverse of what happens with signed "player issued" bats that magically become game used bats. Logically, there shouldn't be "ball marks," "rack marks," or "cleat damage" above the signature (after the item was signed). By the same logic, an item that was signed 50 years (give or take) ago could be damaged and worn. However, the signatures would be under the damage, which would, in turn, make parts of the signatures missing whenever there was a tear, rip, heavy crease, or other form of paper loss. Since the signatures are over the damage, logic would demand that one of two things happened, in order for the item to be authentic:

1) The signatures are much more recent than the story about the executive.

or

2) The spots with paper loss were re-written over by the owner.

Since neither of these seem likely (since the grandiose story really wasn't necessary to market the item), I would lean toward the item being a forgery.

Comment by roger epperson on May 16, 2014 at 2:48am

I found a typo in my post above it should have read "The signatures look to have been from mid to late 1963" sorry if caused any confusion.  

On another note I have the ultimate respect for Frank and Perry and consider them both friends of mine.  I just think from the things I have stated that they may have made a mistake.  Trust me, I have made them myself.

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