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.

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Tags: beatles

Comment by Xwiesy on May 17, 2014 at 5:47am
I think you guys raise some troubling points, for me the most concerning being that not one but two of the world's leading Beatle's experts missed what should be an obvious timeframe issue, as well as not catching signatures over LP defects on what should be a new album.

I realize people make mistakes, but if you and Roger are correct, these are colossal blunders...like amateur hour type stuff.

If we have a Beatle's album entitled "Beatles '65," I'm kind of stating the obvious that an authenticator might be checking for time period. Like, the very first thing.
Comment by Steve Cyrkin Community Mgr. on May 17, 2014 at 5:54am
Don't let this one piece negatively effect your opinions of them. Everybody, including the best, make controversial calls. Frank earned his reputation as the top Beatles authenticator by being very, very good at what he does. This album hasn't diminished by respect for him one iota.
Comment by terrier8HOF on May 17, 2014 at 6:19am

the "compelling provenance" is the only thing I can think of that can explain how their opinions were influenced towards authentic.  Without that, I really question if they would have passed this.  I do study Beatles and have for a long time, but I am not even close to being an expert.  If these signatures were put up here on AML, by themselves with no letter of provenance, no letter from Frank or Perry, just put up for opinion, I am sure there would have been many that would have questioned these, myself included.  

Comment by Xwiesy on May 17, 2014 at 6:24am

We all can appreciate what they've done for the industry. We all make mistakes. But this isn't "Hey, I got fooled by a terrific forgery." This is "I didn't bother to check time period'" if what you guys are proposing is true.

That's just not something an expert misses. I'd hate to plop down six figures on this to be told this isn't real because the signatures were a 1963 style on a record entitled "Beatles '65."

Again- human beings are imperfect, but this seems like missing something as obvious if it were signed in paint pen in 1950.

Comment by Xwiesy on May 17, 2014 at 7:01am
terrier- but really, how is this provenance compelling? I just show up at Perry Cox's place and say "My dad worked at CBS records" and out comes a checkbook? That letter isn't notarized, and doesn't give us any verifiable evidence of anything. This guy says he got it from a friend of his dad's...no name....from a meet and greet that was held....where and when, we have no idea. The owner of the LP is happy to write that this is rare and that he was proud to own it....which tells us absolutely nothing about the piece.

I'd love to hear Perry or Frank answer if these signatures are so good that we're relying on an unverifiable story or if they were questionable but they relied on an unverifiable story.
Comment by Xwiesy on May 17, 2014 at 7:21am
And what does the Avnet letterhead offer? Mr. Fanning appeared to be a Senior Vice President with this Fortune 500 company. Doesn't seem like the type to make up a story about his dad...anything is possible, of course, but it would seem odd that someone with that much to lose would lie about a Beatles record.

This hobby is something.
Comment by roger epperson on May 17, 2014 at 9:34am

To clear up the matter of the Sean is that Sean is a well known collector of autographs.  It has been a very long time since I have done business with him and I can't even remember what he collects but I do know he was or still is a collector.  My guess is that he had done business with Perry and or Frank in the past and I believe Tracks too.  There are a couple of big collectors in the Arizona area and I can't quite put my finger on who he is though.  So what I'm saying is that he wasn't someone who just came to Perry's house, told the story and Perry wrote a letter, it's someone he knew and must have trust in.

Comment by Xwiesy on May 17, 2014 at 10:09am
Thank you for that, Roger. Not going to lie, when I saw the address on the letterhead the whole Arizona scene popped into my head. For me it raises more questions than answers. I realize you and Steve are just focusing on the album, but for me it's a whole host of others.
Comment by Steve Cyrkin Community Mgr. on May 17, 2014 at 10:24am

We're focusing on this album at the moment, but there are concerns far beyond the Beatles.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin Community Mgr. on May 17, 2014 at 1:19pm

As a reminder that signers can revert to older versions of their autographs every now and then, here's a 1966 letter signed by all the Beatles, signed by John Lennon like he signed in 1962:

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