I have been in contact with Judge Lovert Bassett in reference to his lawsuit against Autograph Central (Bryan Slaven). Mr. Bassett purchased eight signed photographs from Autograph Central (Bryan Slaven). The eight signed photographs contained a total of ten (10) signatures of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Elsa Lanchester.
All ten signatures were authenticated by Christopher Morales, Forensic Investigator. Mr. Morales testified on Bryan Slaven’s behalf as an expert witness.
The trial was held on March 11, 2011 at the Lake County Illinois Courthouse.
Mr. Bassett’s total purchase price for all eight photographs (a total of ten signatures) was $7, 345.00.
Mr. Bassett, after he took possession of the eight photographs, decided to have PSA examine the ten signatures. PSA deemed them as “not authentic.”
Mr. Bassett then hired Mr. Robin Williams, a Forensic Document Examiner (FDE), to examine the ten signatures. Mr. Williams (FDE), using a Stereo-Microscope and other instruments, determined that all ten signatures were traced (forgeries).
According to Mr. Bassett, when Mr. Morales was questioned by Mr. Slaven’s attorney, Mr. Morales referenced “The Autograph Collectors” handbook, photographs from the “Smithsonian Museum” and the Library of Congress as sources for exemplars that he uses to authenticate autographs.
What is a "Forensic Investigator" utilizing "State Of The Art Technology" and "Forensics" to examine signatures, doing with the "Autograph Collectors Handbook?"
According to Mr. Bassett, Mr. Morales also testified that he uses business contracts, checks and other financial documents as good sources for exemplars because by their very nature they are most likely to bear the authentic celebrity signature. However, when questioned by Judge Fusz, Mr. Morales admitted that the COAs he issued for the eight signed photographs (10 signatures) were based on a comparison analysis to each other, rather than on verified third-party exemplars.
According to Mr. Bassett, Mr. Morales testified that he spent 2-3 hours examining each signature. Being that Mr. Morales examined ten signatures, that equals a minimum of 20 hours of examinations. And according to Mr. Bassett, Mr. Morales testified that he invoices at the rate of $75.00 per item (not signature). Being that Mr. Morales forensically examined eight photographs, the total invoice for all eight photos was $600.00. $600.00 for 20 hours of examination equals $30.00 per hour for Mr Morales.
Now let’s get back to the fact that all ten signatures were traced (forgeries). If Chris Morales is a true “Forensic Investigator,” using “State Of The Art Technology (as per his COA)” how is it possible that he did not determine that all ten signatures of Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester were all traced (forgeries)?
Judge Michael Fusz made the decision to throw out both Mr. Morales’ expert testimony and the exemplars Mr. Morales said he used to “authenticate” all ten signatures.
According to Mr. Bassett, “BRYAN SLAVEN GAVE ME A FULL $7,345.00 REFUND A WEEK BEFORE THE COURT WAS SCHEDULED TO RENDER A WRITTEN JUDGMENT.”
If Chris Morales, Forensic Investigator, charges $75.00 to authenticate an item, and if that item has 27 signatures (link below), and if Mr. Morales spends a minimum of two hours on each signature, that equals 54 hours. That comes to an hourly rate of $1.38.
I have both spoken and exchanged emails with a number of “Forensic Document Examiners.” They are not cheap. I emailed a few FDE’s a photo of an Abraham Lincoln cut signature and asked for rates to examine it. The absolute lowest rate I received was a $700.00 flat rate fee. That was for only one signature. I also sent a photo of a baseball that was signed by thirteen Presidents (one that was from Coach’s Corner Auctions and certed by Mr. Morales). The lowest rate I received to examine it was $2,000.00. The most expensive rate I got back was $18,000.00. But here’s the real kicker. The majority of FDE’s that I received a reply from wrote me that they could not examine certain pieces because of the lack of genuine exemplars.
Think about this; if the majority of Forensic Document Examiners (at least the ones I communicated with) had to refuse work I offered them due to the lack of genuine exemplars, then what is Chris Morales using as exemplars for all of the vintage and historical cuts that he “authenticates” for Coach’s Corner? Most FDE’s require at least ten genuine exemplars. What exemplars is Chris Morales, Forensic Investigator using to “authenticate” historical cuts of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc.?
This month’s Coach’s Corner Auctions for the month of July is up and running. Up for auction are cut signatures of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (separate auctions). Exemplars for both Bonnie and Clyde’s signatures are almost non-existent. What exemplars did Chris Morales use to pass them as genuine?
Mr. Morales is more than welcome to respond to the comments here. If he disputes any of the comments here I will welcome his reply. I curiously welcome his input in reference to the exemplars he uses for his examinations of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mike “King” Kelly, Eddie Plank. Al Capone, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, Pretty Boy Floyd, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Geronimo, Josh Gibson, Joe Jackson (baseball), etc.
How many Beatles signed baseballs have you certed as authentic, Mr. Morales? Coach's Corner Auctions (Lee Trythall & Scott Malack) have another one listed this month and it is certed by you. Do you ever question where they come from, Mr. Morales, Forensic Investigator?
I would also like to ask you a few more questions Mr. Morales. Mr. Morales, as a “Forensic Investigator,” do you think you have a moral and professional obligation to question all of the rare vintage and historical cuts that Coach’s Corner Auctions sends to you to authenticate every month? Cut sigs that the major auction houses can only dream about selling. Do you have a moral and professional obligation to question Coach’s Corner about all of the Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, etc., autograph items that pass through your hands for authentication every four weeks?
The hobby is interested in your reply, Mr. Morales. Also, Mr. Morales, you are now on Ebay’s banned list. How does a “Forensic Investigator” with the credentials that you claim, get on Ebay’s banned list? The below signed baseball on Coach's Corner Auctions is certed by you. Look at the Babe Ruth, Mr. Morales. Did you really spend two hours "forensically" examining that Babe Ruth signature to determine that it is authentic?
Maybe you can explain this Mr. Morales. The Coach's Corner Auctions that ended on May 20, 2011, contained 86 auctions certed by you. Those 86 auctions included a total of 406 signatures. If you spend a minimum of two hours to examine each signature that crosses your desk, then it took you 812 hours just to "forensically examine" those 406 signatures. Can you explain that to the hobby. And that was just for Coach's Corner Auctions. What about another auction house (I refuse to mention their name) that you "forensically examine" for? I watch that auction house on a daily basis and there are at least 10 auctions that are listed with your cert. That means in any given month, you cert at least 300 signatures a month for them. That's another 600 hours spent "forensically examining" autographs for them. There are 720 hours in a 30-day month. The total number of hours explained here totals 1, 112 hours. And that's just for one month and two companies that you perform "Forensic" examinations for. According to Mr. Bassett, Mr. Morales testified that he does work for 6-8 companies. What about the other 4-6 companies that you perform work for? How many other "forensic" examinations do you perform on a monthly basis for those 4-6 other companies in addition to the 406 items you did for Coach's Corner Auctions and the other 300 items you examined for that other auction company that I will not name? Please explain that to us. If my numbers are incorrect, Mr. Morales, please feel free to clarify it for us.
Mr. Morales, are you performing actual physical "forensic" examinations on the items that you issue "Certificates Of Authenticity" for?
I would also like to ask Mr. Morales a few questions. Mr. Morales, as a “Forensic Investigator,” do you think you have a moral and professional obligation to question all of the rare vintage and historical cuts that Coach’s Corner Auctions sends to you to authenticate every month? Cut signatures that major auction houses can only dream about selling. Do you have a moral and professional obligation to question Coach’s Corner about all of the Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, etc., autograph items that pass through your hands for authentication every four weeks? Did it ever cross your mind, Mr. Morales, where all of this rare vintage, autographed memorabilia originates from?