John Belushi shone bright and burned out in only 33 short years on this Earth. He is rightly considered an American comedy icon and so his autographs are highly sought after items. The trouble is that the man who lived a wild and fast life also had a wildly signing style. Now I’m only an amateur collector, and I’ve tried doing my research, and although there are characteristics to his signature, he can be very tricky to give a definitive on. Obviously taking into consideration the changes in signing over his years of fame, quick signings, documents and checks, he’s still a tricky one.
The following is my tale to discover if I have a genuine Belushi or not.
First of all, let’s have a look at some (what I would consider to be) 99.9% genuine Belushi signings.
Firstly some signed documents:
Here is a very confident and quite complex signature; an all in one movement for ‘John’ continuing into an ‘A’ for his middle name ‘Adam’ (which appears in earlier examples of his signings and official documents) Then his surname is another all in one movement, this time rounded with lots of swirls. The ‘B’ starts with the straight line downwards, then twists back up to the top veering left and then he continues into the two front loops of the ‘B’ and then back again and into the ‘e’ and a nice loop for the ‘L’ a tight swirl for the ‘u’ and ‘s’, another loop for the ‘h and then finishes with the dot of the ‘I’ that floats out to the right hand side of the signature.
Another contract signed faster, The ‘J’ a bit more pointed in this example, still with the ‘A’ for Adam, and the Belushi is stretched and less flourished, probably to fit into this document. Still that dot over the ‘I’ out to the right. And both names written in single, deliberate movements.
Next up is a nice example of a check from 1972. A little looser, back to the more rounded style, still with the middle ‘A’ but the ‘Belushi’ is leaning to the right a little. There is a break after the ‘s’, which seldom occurs and the dot once more.
This group signing from SNL cast in 1977 features a much simpler signing style, he’s dropped the ‘A’ and this time there’s less of a lean to the left on the ‘J’ of John and the trademark ‘I’ dot still floating off the very end.(in the middle of the document)
This check from the same year and the lean to the left is back and that dot over the ‘I’ as a little dash to the right.
This dot/ dash I believe is an important trait in spotting a genuine Belushi (isn’t it the same with Stan Laurel, where a genuine one always has a dot after the signature? Something that forgers often missed.)
Now a couple of more informal versions of his signing styles. A signed receipt with a much simpler ‘John’ but it still has a twist in the ‘o’:
And this in-person from a respected document specialist, this time with the John above the Belushi and with a flamboyant swirl underneath.
A lean to the left
Both ‘John’ and ‘Belushi’ written in one movement.
The bottom of the ‘B’ twisting back and sweeping into the rounded ‘e’
The twisting ‘s’
And that tell tale ‘dot’ over the ‘I’ at the end.
Now onto the obvious fakes to compare to:
This site ‘Memorabilia Autographs’ are hawking a large number of these forgeries, from 200 to 400 dollars. This is the most common forgery of his signature out there.
This one on Ebay is currently passing this one off. Not a bad attempt to copy his movement, but not right
This pick guard is pretty shameless:
Now onto my own purchase, I bought this on Ebay back in 2005. And I am under no allusions that it could be a fake, but it has always bugged me, as just when I write it off, I see something that makes me think it could be genuine.
Firstly it seems like a very elaborate fake, now, I’m not stupid enough to think that forgers won’t go to great lengths to cheat us collectors, but still. Why fake these three names in particular; Bill Murray, John Belushi and Gilda Radner (whom the autograph hunter wasn't sure who it was, hence the question mark after her name). Surely Dan Aykroyd would serve you better to forge alongside Belushi? More bucks for sure.
And the confidence in which the Belushi signature is executed has always made me wonder, a forger could certainly have gone for a simpler version of his signature and there is no hesitation at all in the line, it has that lean to the left and has that all important dot over the ‘I’.
I sent the item to John Hickey at Heritage Auctions, who was very helpful and ran it by Steve Grad at PSA/DNA at no extra cost and I was simply told ‘all no good.’ Now I have the utmost respect for their work, but it continued to bug me and nine years later it still does! Particularly as PSA Autograph facts have this one posted as a genuine example.
Here are two studies I’ve done on my own autograph. One shows all three SNL cast comparisons.
And finally another look alongside two genuine and similar in style Belushi’s.
So, there you have it, what do you guys think? Am I chasing a dream and need to save up and buy another, or could I have a genuine Belushi in my collection? I’d love to know what you think? And no need to spare my feelings, I’m still getting over that Jackie Gleason secretarial I have hanging on my wall!!
And at the very least, anyone looking to buy a Belushi have a little resource here on site.
Very interesting story! I enjoyed reading it greatly. Of course, I have not even an iota of knowledge to contribute regarding his signature or any of the three. I will say yours looks an awful lot like the one you posted from PSA AutographFacts. An awful lot.
I believe the seller had seen those PSA signatures and directly copied them on old paper, look at John's, you can see that it stops before restarting again. John's signature was fast flowing without stopping, he even managed to make them look neat on alot of them. Gilda's signature is a bugger too. Personally I think they're fake. Heartbreaking to know people do this. :( Its sad to see.
Someone is actually tring to sell a signed belushi PICK GUARD ? LMAO..first NO ONE and I mean NO ONE was carrying around Pick guards to sign in the early198O's up to the time of his death...NO ONE...whoever is trying to sell this is incredibly stupid.
Yeah I know David, it's pretty a shameless exploitation!
Here's the link to the horrible pick guard, a bargain for $28.97. Authenticated by American Autograph Authentication Services, Inc...ha!
I seen those, those dealers have a whole negative list compiled from people who bought from them, they have moved multiple times and contine their dirty dealings today. What about the drumhead? plus, the prices are pretty low for both Dan and John's together. Anything signed just by Dan Aykroyd will probably go for over 50 dollars if it is connected with the Blues Brothers, pretty much more than anything to do with Ghostbusters unless it's official replicated memorabillia eg proton pack
Hi ..a couple of notes... First Bill Murray does NOT sign autographs..he did sign a Book he wrote on golfing but normally will not sign... I MET John belushi , Bill Murray and Dan Ayktoyd...I have photos with murray and Aykroyd...unfort... I dont have a pic or autograph from J Belushi..I saw him in 198O or so ? I beleive when the Blues Brothers played in NY at the old 14th st Palladium. VAGUE memories .I have the ticket here somewhere..maanged to get backstage since the ticket came from a guyt working there......Belushi was running around..missed getting him. wasnt very UP on things back then .never saw him again...ran into AYK many times..always nice
Thanks David, how cool you actually go to see the guys and actually saw the Blues Brothers live! Wow! In terms of Bill Murray, I think that to say he does NOT sign autographs is not entirely true, as you said he signs books. In terms of my one (if it's genuine) it would have been signed during his SNL tenure starting back in 1977. So he must have occasionally signed back then.
Also anecdotally, I have a friend who got him to sign an autograph in the late 1990's when he was promoting one of his films on an Irish chat show. However I'm sure he seldom, if ever signs nowadays.
Thanks for sharing your story!
OH in anceint days Bill Murray signed just like everyone else ..I meant from about 1989 to recently he would shake your hand thats about it..I met him on thw set of the first film he did post Ghostbusters..in CA at the Warner lot..by accident..he stood around talking. to the 3 of us..security wanted to kick us out of his trailer area...he said "if you were in NY at the Ghost Busters building...whats the address. lets go New Yorker..wheres the building....I told him 55CPW....I told hi mthe name of the doorman (My friend lived in that building lol he said.. I guess you were there...and took a cool photo..just me..not my friends. B elushi is the only original SNL player I dont have a graph but I kind of like to get the m in person...it means moer to me...and obv. that wont be happening...I lost my one chance..should have waited til lend of show outside venue..but beleive meI was NOT up on autographs then