Mass Resignations, Lives Threatened as AFTAL is Hijacked During Behind the Scenes Forgery Investigation

Formed with the stated goal of stamping out fake autographs, AFTAL, the Autograph Fair Trade Alliance, attracted many of UK's and Europe's most reputable dealers as members. But while the vast majority of AFTAL dealers lived its stated goal, including a recognized expert used by law enforcement to testify against the forgery industry, AFTAL's two primary founders, Dominic Manning and Marc Mclennan, used it as cover to sell and authenticate thousands of forgeries. Manning has seized control of the organization after an AFTAL steering committee found that he sold hundreds of fake Michael Jackson autographs he claimed to have gotten in person. And like a mansion built on quicksand, AFTAL is crumbling.

As the legally listed head of AFTAL, Manning, owner of Behind the Scenes Autographs, disbanded the steering committee last week that was formed in December by boardmember Garry King after Manning and another boardmember were forced to resign. Manning then reportedly had AFTAL's lawyer slap a suppression order (gag order) on the former members of the committee, forbidding them to talk publicly about Manning's actions or their determination that the Michael Jacksons Manning sold were forgeries.

In the UK, even revealing that you are under a suppression order can have you held in contempt of court, so little information about it has come out and no public documents appear to be available. But the sudden silence of former steering members who used to speak to me confirms its existence in my mind.

Events have taken a violent turn. Several autograph dealers have reportedly been threatened by Manning or the source of the forgeries, Adrian Longden, and police reports have been filed. At least one victim is in fear of his life.

Roughly a third of AFTAL members have resigned or are in the process of doing so, and many more are anticipated to resign as they hear about the scandal. 

Stay tuned for more. Autograph Magazine is preparing a list of current and former AFTAL dealers considered reputable. Please message me if you would like to be considered for this list.

For more details on AFTAL's actions and the Dominic Manning/Adrian Longden forgeries, read the following Autograph Magazine Live! discussions:

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Comment by Jason Thanos on February 4, 2013 at 8:04am

Steve you will have to excuse me and so would most of you , If any of you respect me at all I hope you know am not lying when I say what I will now as I believe this needs to be said, Am sorry if I upset some of you but you all know I have been the voice of reason and always tried to be fair ..

I resigned as am tired this has taken away too much time from my life my baby and my work, It is actually killing me possibly the rest too, I really want to step away and not ever come back on it .

But first I want to state that Marc has and was very supportive with us , He would speak with gary or me at list every single day , I even remember speaking to Marc while he was in his bed dying from Flu. As far as am concerned and you might find the rest of the commitee will say the same he never once refused to help no matter how bad it looked.

So I hope people trust me enough to believe this as I swear to you on my life he not once try to stop any of us or at any point bloke our investigation.

I just wanted to say this as he was never a distributor of Jackos or anything like that .

Guys I hope you guys play nice and I think I need a break as this is no end and I need to end it as I have a family that needs me and I have a job to do .

All the best Jason

Comment by Robert McCluskey on February 4, 2013 at 8:13am

I have to concur with Jason on the above, I had no contact at all from Marc during the investigation and I'm not aware of him trying to pressure any of the others.

Comment by Ken Mills on February 4, 2013 at 8:18am

I have to concur with Bob and Jason on the above, I had no contact at all from Marc during the investigation and I'm not aware of him trying to pressure any of the others.

Comment by Rich on February 4, 2013 at 8:32am

Jason, I think most people would agree that you've done more than your share already in trying to sort out a matter that wasn't your fault to begin with.  AFTAL or not, you and your business' reputation remains intact.  You're on a short list of UK collectors/dealers I can confidently recommend to friends and fellow collectors.

Comment by Ken Mills on February 4, 2013 at 8:35am

He also does a pretty mean Souvlaki too lol

Comment by Robert McCluskey on February 4, 2013 at 9:09am

Steve, out of interest, do you (or anyone else for that matter) know which US dealers are carrying MJ stock that came from Adrian ? Has anyone actually admitted to this and what has happened over there ? I know there has been an issue lately with some auction house selling questionable items, but I haven't heard of anyone outside the UK being taken to task about this.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I don't have much interest in autographs other than Liverpool Football Club, so any previous mention would likely have gone over my head, but I do have a nagging feeling that this isn't just a UK / AFTAL problem.

Comment by Richard Bristow on February 4, 2013 at 10:14am

I can also confirm that as a member of the AFTAL steering committee at no point did I have any direct or indirect contact with Marc.

 

Comment by roger epperson on February 4, 2013 at 10:16am

That's a good question Robert.  I have seen a few come across my desk when RR submits them to me for authentication but I really have not seen many show up over here.  We have our own batch of forgers doing them here!

 

Comment by Robert McCluskey on February 4, 2013 at 10:24am

Andy and Mark are not members here I don't think so they'll likely not post, but I'm as sure as I can be that they would agree with the others on this - Garry will confirm this as well if he decides to post.

Roger - I bet ours are better than yours.

 (tongue in cheek to avoid any misunderstanding)

Comment by Rich on February 4, 2013 at 10:26am

Did Adrian sell on an individual basis, or to dealers only?

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