Bob Dylan shocked the world in November, 2022. A statement was released on his official Facebook account when “hand-signed” copies of a $600 special edition of his new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song" were all proven to be signed by autopen. Dylan admitted to using this autopen machine from 2019 - Nov 2022. He blames a mix of vertigo and the COVID pandemic caused him to make this error in judgement. This led Castle Fine Art, located in the UK, to release their own statement immediately after in which certain editions of Dylan's art prints were also affected. These prints have a starting price tag of about $3000 and are sold exclusively through Castle Fine Art. The specific affected editions currently include The Retrospectrum Collection and Sunset, Monument Valley. Both released earlier this year (2022). Consumers and Hobbyists are speculating that this may go beyond the items specified, and EVERY item from 2019 - 2022 at this time is suspect.
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On October 14th 2022, Indigo, A bookstore chain located in Canada, listed the special edition of Dylan's book on their website for $799 CAN $599 US, set to be released Nov 15th. It was unknown exactly how many they had sold, but it took almost a full day for them to sell out. On October 20th 2022, a Facebook member was able to get his hands on a copy of Dylan's signed book early via in-store pickup, weeks before its official release. He documented his purchase through photo and video evidence for everyone to study. Most remained skeptical believing his videos to be a hoax. Members from this very forum started notifying Indigo of the situation which quickly caused the cancellation of all orders. The publisher, Simon and Schuster, decided to pull back and regroup stating through Indigo, they have decided to take a different direction. Their revised plan involved simply taking another stab at selling these same books through a new set of retailers. This time they would also include a heavily advertised COA, stating each copy was hand signed by Bob Dylan himself. The retailers involved include Coles Bookstore UK (99 copies), Premiere Collectibles (12 copies verified, potentially more) and Simon and Schuster themselves selling up to 900 books direct (no returns or refunds allowed of course). As soon as evidence was overwhelmingly proven these books were autopenned, Simon and Schuster removed their webpage listing before these had actually sold out.
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Once these books started to be delivered, Customers began comparing images relentlessly here on Autograph Live. Ultimately discovering that Bob Dylan used 17 confirmed templates for his autopen machine. Simon and Schuster admitted the mistake and promised all orders would be fully refunded while customers would be allowed to keep the books. It is estimated around 500 copies of these books are currently in the hands of consumers and will be spread around the secondary market indefinitely. It did not stop there however. At this time, autograph enthusiasts started contemplating the use of autopen signatures with his expensive art prints. Soon after, finding evidence of what they had feared. This is what prompted Castle Fine Art to release their own statement. 5816nick, a member here on Autograph Live is quoted "I have been a fan all my Life, his first LP was the very first LP I bought when I was ten." "I have become so disappointed with him, I would never have believed such an Iconic figure would ever do such a thing. This has tainted his legacy and damaged his reputation."
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The autograph community is currently suspecting that Dylan has used secretarial signatures over the past 5 years but at this point, it is only speculation. Research is ongoing. As of now, there are many Castle Fine Art prints that include questionable Dylan signatures even though these were hand signed and not autopenned. Matt M. says "I’m just not letting the issue go with Castle for my 2019-purchased print. It’s to the point now that I’m about to take it off the wall since I have no idea who/what signed it. Was once one of Crown Jewels in my collection lol, now this.". Suspicious items are those where Dylan's signature has a distinct slant to the right instead of his more vertical style that has been authenticated in the past. It is unimaginable to think Bob Dylan, a man worth half a billion dollars, a man whos persona is just as important as his musical legacy, would attempt fraud at this magnitude. Similar to James Dean, if he had died young, he would have remained cool forever. Fast forward to today, many of his fans are starting to see him for who he really is. A celebrity who is riding his successes of the past. He has shown slight glimpses of his talent over the last 50 years but it just isn't comparable to his body of work from the 1960's. Dylan has found a way to take advantage of his name in an unthinkable way over the last 5 years and many within his fanbase are furious. crazyrabitts23 says "The idea that Dylan was going to have a mea culpa and suddenly become a pro signer on par with the legendarily-reticent David Gilmour was absurd. He shouldn't have even approved it to begin with. It's a black eye for Dylan, his management team and S&S. The way I see it, they're all culpable, and I will help this forum do everything in its power to call this kind of behaviour out. There is no place whatsoever for it, not now, not ever."
This was a rare opportunity for true fans to acquire what they thought would be a highly collectible autograph at a relatively affordable price (considering the current market). Out of all living legends, Bob Dylan is one of the most difficult autographs to obtain. He is consistently short with fans and despises signing autographs in general. It is common knowledge within the celebrity world, signatures are fiercely hunted by autograph hounds who in-turn, sell these signatures for profit. Buddy Guy (86) is quoted saying "Its a business now, Eric Clapton told me this over 35 - 40 years ago, most of those people sellin' autograph now. I had one guy come up and tell me - if you cant sell this, I'm hungry, if you sign this I can get me some food". Celebrities are absolutely aware that their signatures hold value. Bob Dylan has not only used this to his advantage but has also taken it a step further lazily defrauding his fanbase in an attempt to profit potentially millions of dollars using COVID and complications with vertigo as an excuse.
Not cool Bob... Not cool at all
Link to Buddy Guy's comment
Variety Magazine - Article 1
Variety Magazine - Article 2
Variety Magazine - Article 3
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