For those of you ever wondering the truth about Global Authentics (GA) and its CEO/President/Manager of Autograph Authentication, Steve Sipe, here it is in a no holds barred exclusive as well as my personal experiences with their current lead authenticator.
Sipe era begins... Gryder era continues...
According to his Linkedin profile, the former Senior Manager of Athlete Relations at Upper Deck (January 1993 - March 2003) and more recently, the former CEO/President of Light at Night (June 2003 - May 2006), took over the now defunct Global Authentication (GAI) in December 2009 and promptly changed the company’s name to Global Authentics (GA). Yes, you read that correctly, the same guy that went from designing and installing lighting systems was now the CEO/President and Manager of Autograph Authentication for eBay’s approved resident fake autograph authentication company.
When Sipe took over GAI in the waning days of 2009, he retained the former companies largest asset; Robert “Bob” Gryder. Sipe himself referred to Gryder as “the foremost expert of modern autographs”. Seeing as he was part of the old regime which also included notorious fake autograph authenticator Justin Priddy (CEO/President of eBay banned ACE Authentication), Gryder was fluent in working the system. He was rubber stamping forgeries by the thousand and filling his pockets by the thousands, all while under the umbrella of an eBay approved “authentication” company. Once Sipe learned of Gryder’s racket and saw the money rolling in, all he could see was dollar signs. He encouraged Gryder to branch out, travel more, and bring in new business to his company which was already making money hand over fist. So as Gryder traveled the country certifying known forgeries as being “authentic”, Sipe sat back in his Southern California office counting his money.
In 2010, many people in this industry, including several members on this site, began to question some of the autographs that were being “authenticated” by GA. Sipe and Gryder were getting too greedy. They were authenticating the biggest names in sports by the hundreds and didn’t care as long as their pockets were being lined with those dollar dollar bills. It wasn’t until Sipe received a phone call from longtime friend and lead Fraud Agent at eBay, John Gonzales, that he started to feel a little heat.
With the heat stemming from the Gonzales conversation and the pressure starting to mount from disgruntled members in the industry, Sipe and Gryder were forced to alter their racket ever so slightly for the time being. The new plan was for Gryder to limit the number of per player signatures that he would authenticate at one time because the style of forgeries that they were authenticating just weren’t very good. However, once a new style forgery came out, they’d go back to stickering everything again. So for the time being, instead of stickering 25+ Wayne Gretzky forgeries, Sipe directed Gryder to only sticker 3-4 at a time until the heat died down.
The new plan wasn’t working well for Gryder as he was use to taking a 5 day trip to “authenticate” forgeries and coming back with $30,000 - $40,000 in his pocket. Coming home with a couple thousand dollars just wasn’t enough for Gryder and he promptly aborted Sipe’s plan and went back to certifying every forgery he could get his hands on. As the money started to roll back in by the boat load, Sipe turned the other cheek and essentially handed Gryder the keys to the car and let him do whatever he wanted. That decision ultimately resulted in GA’s best year financially as they eclipsed the 7-figure mark and headed into 2011 full steam ahead.
In early 2011, as Gryder was making his rounds, authenticating known forgeries, Sipe was back at Global headquarters heeding more phone calls from John Gonzales about the record number of questionable GA-certified items that kept surfacing on eBay. This series of events triggered another conversation between Sipe and Gryder which resulted in the former directing the latter to take a break from his authentication trips in an effort to limit the mass production of GA-certified forgeries hitting the eBay market place.
In mid-2011, on a beautiful California day, 2 gentlemen entered GA headquarters with a new assortment of forgeries, a different style of forgeries that Sipe had never seen before. These 2 men, who at the time went by aliases Emu and Ricky Jackson, 2 brothers who claimed to be in-person autograph chasers that pounded the pavement 200+ days a year chasing autographs. Not to give Sipe too much credit, but for the most part, he does know a real autograph from a fake autograph. He just always chose the almighty dollar over what was right from wrong. In this case, it was no different. Sipe knew the autographs that they brought in weren’t real but the men had cash and they offered a new style of forgeries. A more accurate style to what these players were actually signing. A much better style then what “the foremost expert of modern autographs”, Bob Gryder, had been authenticating for years. Naturally, Sipe took the money, authenticated the forgeries, and the 2 men went on their merry way.
This new stye of forgeries had Sipe’s head spinning because this was what he was looking for all along. A new style of forgeries that looked remarkably close to the real thing. Forgeries that he thought he could authenticate without drawing any heat from eBay or other industry people. The authentication session with the “Jackson” brothers prompted Sipe to book Gryder a flight to meet face to face at Global headquarters and discuss the new forgeries. Coincidentally, the next time the “Jackson’s” brought more items to be “authenticated”, Sipe and Gryder were both present and Gryder got his first look at the new forgeries that Sipe had been so hell bent over.
Discussions began with the men about where the stuff was coming from but they wouldn’t immediately tip their hand and adamantly stuck to their “in-person chasers” story. Neither Sipe or Gryder bought their story but they went along with it and stickered everything the men had. Sipe was determined to get to the bottom of it and find out where everything was coming from because he saw this as a way to keep authenticating forgeries and still make beaucoup money without getting harassed.
As 2011 rolled on, Gryder began making his trips around the country again, authenticating forgeries, and lining his and Sipe’s pockets with stacks of Ben Franklin’s. While Gryder was out on the road, Sipe was sitting back in his office, counting his share of the profits, and authenticating more and more forgeries for the “Jackson” brothers. Someone familiar with the “Jackson” brothers eventually broke the news to Sipe that they weren’t actually who they said they were. Instead, their true identifies would be revealed as former Houston Astros Minor League outfielder, Nathan Metroka and former Weber State and San Diego State defensive lineman, Emil Metroka. Sipe, an habitual hot head, confronted the men upon their next visit and began to grill them for information about the new style of forgeries and how they could all benefit in the long run. However, the men wouldn’t reveal any information and simply paid Sipe for his service and left with their fresh batch of newly “authenticated” items. Sipe immediately got on the phone with Gryder to catch him up to speed about what was going on and to express that he wanted to see him authenticating these new style forgeries that the Metroka’s seemed to have a never ending supply of.
A week or so went by and the Metroka’s showed up at GA headquarters with more forgeries to be authenticated. Sipe started to pry bits and pieces of information out of the men and asked if there were more dealers they knew that would be interested in having their items “authenticated” by GA. The men mentioned that they had a few friends that would be interested and in the coming days, more and more Southern California area dealers started lining up at GA headquarters waiting for Sipe to sticker their forgeries. Sipe thought he had hit the jackpot so he contacted Gryder and told him to cease all authenticating that involved any of the previous style forgeries that he had been certifying for years. Gryder verbally agreed but still continued to authenticate the same forgeries he was so use to seeing.
In 2012, Sipe decided it would be a brilliant idea to hire one of the “in-person chasers” to his already star-studded staff in an effort to see more and more of the new style forgeries. He wanted to get away from the customers that Gryder had been “authenticating” for and build his business around strictly West Coast area dealers that had the new style forgeries. Sipe presented this idea to Gryder who immediately tried to discredit it, simply because it would severely cut into his share of the profits.
Being the owner of the company, it was ultimately Sipe’s decision to make and he went ahead and hired current Global Authentics lead authenticator, Emil Metroka, to the staff. Along with his hiring of Metroka, Sipe felt it would be in his best interest to change the design of the GA certification cards in an effort to differentiate the old style forgeries that Gryder had been authenticating to the new style forgeries that Sipe had been gushing about ever since he met the Jackson’s, I mean Metroka’s, back in 2011.
Gryder, still part of the GA team at this point, refused to adhere to Sipe’s demands and continued to sticker whatever he could get his hands on in a last-ditch effort to line his pockets for as long as he could. Sipe confronted Gryder about not abiding by his new set of rules and notified him that he had hired a new authenticator (Metroka) and if he didn’t like it then he could go his separate way. Gryder, infuriated with Sipe’s new master plan, decided his run at Global was over and left the company. He now owns and operates his own authentication company, Quality Authentication (www.qualityauthentication.com).
In 2013, Global Authentics turned into a mainly West Coast area authentication company. Outside of the few people oblivious to autograph authentication that send items to the GA office, they strictly authenticate for West Coast area dealers. Mostly, but not limited to, California and Arizona unless someone can produce the new style forgeries that Sipe is infatuated with. As documented on this site many times starting in 2013, there have been an astronomical number of GA-certified LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Wayne Gretzky, etc etc, autographs to grace the eBay market place. Shockingly, all of which were being sold by one group of connected dealers on the West Coast (California and Arizona). Along with the high-end sports autographs, there was also a drastic spike in the number of music and entertainment related autographs that were now being authenticated by Global. Prior to his departure, Bob Gryder was not allowed to “authenticate” anything other then sports autographs without Sipe’s consent. Enter Global’s new celebrity “expert” and “in-person chaser”, Steve Widgerson. With Widgerson aboard, Global was now authenticating just about every celebrity autograph you could possibly think of. eBay seller and CA based dealer cardboardlegendsonline, quite possibly Global’s #1 customer, offers the eBay community the largest selection of forged celebrity autographs. They offer a wide variety of celebrity memorabilia so at any point in time, you can choose from one of 6 Axl Rose 11x14’s, 13 Foo Fighters band-signed pieces or 4 Andy Dick 8x10’s.
Sipe has attempted to defend many of these forgeries, most notably the sports ones, that come with GA certification cards baring his name as recently as September 2013. Sipe argued that the items his company is authenticating are identical to items that were authenticated by the PSA/DNA and JSA. As Ryan and several others here have pointed out on many occasions, the fake signatures certified by GA were not even close to the real signatures authenticated by PSA/DNA and JSA. Since this was exposed and Sipe was discredited by multiple people here, he decided to take the high road and request that his account be terminated.
In his most recent attempt to glorify his own company, Sipe instructed Metroka and several other West Coast area dealers who were involved with the new style forgeries, to submit those same forgeries to both PSA/DNA and JSA. He was hell bent over the fact that he believed these new style forgeries looked so good that both PSA/DNA and JSA would have no issue authenticating them. Shockingly, this actually worked for a short period of time. Sipe’s minions would put together an assortment of items that would include their usual convoy of forgeries mixed in with a handful real autographs. Being somewhat local, they would drop stuff off at the PSA/DNA office in Newport Beach and mail packages to JSA’s New Jersey office. Sipe and Emil thought they had it all figured out. They were getting both PSA/DNA and JSA to certify some of their forgeries and then they would have the same forgeries mass produced so they could put their own GA stickers on everything.
However, for Sipe, Metroka and everyone else involved with their racket, all good things eventually came to an end as both PSA/DNA and JSA have caught on to their shenanigans and will no longer certify their forgeries. Metroka’s most recent attempt to get more forgeries authenticated by JSA resulted in him mailing a package to the New Jersey office that was promptly returned with a nice assortment of rejection letters and a hefty credit card charge. Now all this group of nitwits can do is rely on their worthless Global Authentics certification, price their items 1/3 of what real PSA/DNA and JSA certified items are priced for, and hope they can find enough stupid people who don’t know the truth about GA to buy their forgeries.
My personal experience with Emil “E” Metroka and the truth behind who is doing the forging...
Flashback to 2008... My first encounter with Emil Metroka took place that March in Kissimmee. As I do a couple times every spring, I took the 2 hour ride over to Kissimmee to do some chasing. As I was waiting for autographs, I was approached by Emil or as many know him, “E”. He asked me if I had any interest in buying any Derek Jeter signed baseballs. Emil told me that his brother Nathan, a Minor League outfielder with the Astros, had a connection through a friend who played with the Yankees that could get Derek Jeter signed baseballs directly out of the clubhouse. I told him that I was interested in looking at them and possibly buying a couple so he told me to meet him out by the parking lot afterwards. When I met him at his car, he popped the trunk and there they were - there had to be 10 dozen Derek Jeter signed baseballs. At the time, the balls looked just like the few Jeter autographs that I had personally obtained over the years at Yankees spring training. I didn’t have much money on me so I only bought 2 but he told me to come back whenever I more money and he’d have more Jeter balls available. I went back a couple weeks later and true to his word, Emil had more Jeter balls for sale. I had enough money on me that day to pick up another 3 balls. That was my last time seeing Emil that spring but it certainly wouldn’t be my last encounter with him.
The next spring (2009), I took another ride over to Kissimmee hoping to bump into Emil again. For those that don’t know him, Emil is a hard guy to miss. He’s well over 6 feet tall and must weight at least 250 pounds. Needless to say, he’s a pretty imposing guy and a hard guy to miss. Emil was once again well stocked with Derek Jeter baseballs. He gave me the same story about his brother still having a connection with a friend who played for the Yankees and that the balls were coming directly out of the clubhouse. At the time, I didn’t have any reason not to believe him. I took 6 balls off his hands that day and he told me again that he’d have more whenever I need some. I went back one more time that spring but this time, Emil didn’t have any Jeter balls on him. He told me to meet him over at the hotel where him and his brother were staying later that night and he’d have more. I didn’t think anything of it so I met him over at his hotel and he walked out with 3 more dozen Jeter balls. I swear the ink wasn’t even dry on the balls but he said that Nathan had just met up with his friend who was with the Yankees and the balls had just been signed earlier that day. Still, the balls looked right on and I didn’t have any reason at the time not to trust the guy. I bought a dozen Jeter balls off him that night and that would be the last time I would see Emil for several years.
From time to time, I’ve come to this blog and read a few articles here and there. I remember reading an article a couple years back that Christopher Williams wrote about Global/Steve Sipe authenticating many questionable Derek Jeter autographs. It was no coincidence, the same Derek Jeter autographs that GA/Sipe had been authenticating were the same style Jeter autographs that I bought from Emil Metroka. These were the same Jeter’s that were allegedly coming from one Nathan Metroka’s connections directly out of the Yankees clubhouse. Nathan Metroka never had a connection in the Yankees clubhouse. Nathan Metroka was signing the baseballs himself and his brother, the salesman of the family, was out looking for suckers like me at the time, to peddle off his brothers forgeries.
For the first time this past February, myself and a friend went out to Arizona for spring training to do some chasing. Guess who we see pounding the pavement, peddling more forgeries? Good ole Emil Metroka... I stayed free and clear of the guy because now that I knew his story and what he was all about, I didn’t want anything to do with him. However, my friend, who had never met Emil, played along with everything and approached him about buying some signed baseballs. Just like my experience several years ago, Emil took my friend out to his car and popped his trunk. Nathan must’ve been practicing...
Emil and Nathan’s new menu of forgeries had really expanded. There were dozens of Sandy Koufax, Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum to name a few. All “guaranteed” to pass PSA/DNA and JSA. Fascinating, why would Global Authentics’ lead authenticator profess that everything was “guaranteed” to pass PSA/DNA and JSA when he could’ve authenticated everything himself with GA certification? My friend told Emil that he didn’t have cash on him that day but he’d see him again and would take a few of his baseballs. He never intended on buying anything, he just wanted to see what Emil had for sale so he could report back to me. Thankfully, we didn’t bump into Emil the rest of our trip.
To sum this all up, Emil and Nathan Metroka have orchestrated the biggest forgery ring known to man. Nathan does the forgeries, Emil either sells the forgeries to suckers like me or he simply authenticates Nathan’s forgeries and lists them on one of his many eBay accounts. Better yet, I’m sure there have been many times where Emil has sold some of Nathan’s forgeries to some sucker and then authenticated them. Essentially making money off the forgery and the authentication.
As for the GA-certified celebrity autographs; word on the street that was being thrown around while we were in Arizona, was that a member of this site, and a frequent contributor to many articles posted here, is very deeply involved with GA celebrity “expert”, Steve Widgerson. This particular person is doing the forging, and Widgerson is doing the authentication. Resulting in a massive number of GA-certified celebrity memorabilia now showing up on eBay. More to come on this...
Maybe the biggest joke of it all is the guy who’s sitting back allowing it all to happen. Steve Sipe knows exactly what’s going on, but he doesn’t care. He’s making too much money to care...
If all this is true, this is the most stomach turning thing I've ever read on this website.
I agree, Rick. In my opinion, Global Authentics should be, at the very least, removed from the EBay Approved Authenticator List.
I changed my mind; in my opinion, Global Authentics should be on the "Banned COA" list.
that just costs ebay money.
Since they eliminated the EMR's and since John G. has left, that tells you they just don't care at all about autographs, not a bit.
I agree, Richard.
Ebay doesn't care at about the scammers and sellers of forgeries.
It's about the dollars.
Why doesn't ebay make it mandatory that autograph items have a "lifetime warranty/guarantee" as long as that biz or person is active on ebay? Why doesn't Paypal require a cash bond to be held for dealers and authenticators, no one goes out there looking to be suckered or taken on either side.
"Since they eliminated the EMR's and since John G. has left, that tells you they just don't care at all about autographs, not a bit."
and is the MAIN reason, I stopped cold in my tracks from ever purchasing another autograph and limiting my e-bay purchases to practically nothing....soon to be absolutely nothing.
But from the sound of the OP, it seems Sipe is somewhat being favored by ebay. If an ebay fraud guy is going out of his way to continually give Sipe "talks" about the GA certed items. Then he obviously is favoring him. If the info the OP has presented is true, this could get very interesting.