The Todd Mueller Autographs, Nelson Deedle and Iconographs Lawsuits

I could use your help.

Since Autograph Live opened in July 2009, collectors around the world have come to rely on us to learn how to collect better, and avoid buying or selling forgeries.

It's been a passion...a labor of love.

Not just for me. For many members, like you.

Thanks to you, Autograph Live has become a huge storehouse of autograph information; probably the largest and most valuable anywhere. Almost all of it is available to the public, without having to join the site.

In the last 5 years alone, almost 1,500,000 people have visited Autograph Live for the invaluable knowledge and experience that you've contributed. You should be proud.

Over the years, we've ruffled some feathers.

We exposed American Royal Arts (ARA), probably the largest seller of music autograph forgeries ever before or since.

That led to Roger Epperson, the world's leading modern music authenticator, being sued in 2011 for defamation by forensic document examiner Christopher Morales. Morales was ARA’s former lead authenticator, and he wasn't happy with us. Morales later added me to the suit. The lawsuit was dismissed in late 2013.

Roger isn't just the top music authenticator. He is, without a doubt, the bravest autograph authenticator in the world. Roger is rarely, if ever, afraid to say what he thinks. He's got bigger you-know-whats than anyone else in autographs.

Roger's a hero to many, including me. Even though we don't always see eye-to-eye.

Then Kevin Martin and his company, Piece of the Past, sued me for defamation in late January 2014. They lost that year.

Todd Mueller and Todd Mueller Autographs followed in March 2014, suing Roger, me, and another party for defamation, first using Martin's attorney. The other defendants were dismissed from the lawsuit because they don't live in California, so they were not under California court's jurisdiction. Roger and Todd Mueller are battling it out in Texas now.

Todd Mueller's lawsuit against me is still ongoing, now scheduled for trial starting October 27. The lawsuit is completely unwarranted and undeserved, but that's now for a jury to decide.

This discussion may give you an idea of what I'm up against. Read it after you finish this post if you want.

There's more.

In mid-2015, Todd Mueller and Todd Mueller Autographs, and Nelson Deedle and his company, Iconographs, sued me, Collectors Universe (which owns PSA/DNA), JSA, RR Auction, and Roger Epperson, claiming we were a cartel colluding to automatically fail all autographs sold by plaintiffs in order to drive them out of business.

Autograph Live and I are supposedly the PR mouthpieces of the cartel, even though I don't own stock in any of those companies, PSA and JSA have never advertised on our websites, and I'm not an autograph dealer.

They also seem to have missed that there are more discussions complaining about PSA/DNA and JSA then applauding them here.

And that PSA and JSA are fierce competitors. Before these lawsuits, I'd be shocked if any words they said to each other had more than four letters.

And what would be the benefit for them to try to put customers out of business? Would Toyota and Honda collude to close down Hertz and Avis?

Those lawsuits were dismissed in Federal court, but they refiled them in California Superior Court in 2016.

The problem is that I'm losing the cartel lawsuits and at risk of losing the defamation one because I can't afford a lawyer anymore.

I had to let mine go at the end of 2015, and I've been forced to represent myself since then.

After 6 years of lawsuits from Morales, Martin, Mueller, and Deedle, I'm financially drained.

From emails and documents I've seen over the years, it's clear to me that Mueller was hoping I'd end up having to represent myself. I have emails where he and others were plotting to get dealers and auction houses to quit advertising with us.

And it's clear to me from emails and documents that he's been trying to get Autograph Live shut down for years.

Don't take my word for it. Here's an example from an email Mueller sent Michael Frost in 2011, who provided a number of emails from Mueller that have been absolutely shocking:

I'll keep fighting like I have been till the end, but without an attorney, it's not an uphill battle, it's an up-cliff one. 

It kills me to have to say this, but if you feel like contributing to our legal defense fund to fight these lawsuits, I could use your help. Please send me a message or use the PayPal button on our home page.


Steve Cyrkin
Community Manager

Views: 6242

Tags: cyrkin, iconographs, lawsuits, nelson deedle, todd mueller autographs

Comment by RJ on July 7, 2017 at 5:10pm

Have you considered finding an attorney(s) who will work pro bono?

Comment by terrier8HOF on July 7, 2017 at 5:24pm

yeah, maybe one that has been screwed with a bogus autograph deal

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on July 7, 2017 at 5:31pm

Thanks for asking. I checked with the ACLU and similar agencies, but they don't take complex cases. No attorney could afford to take a case like this pro bono.

Comment by BG Meadows on July 7, 2017 at 5:51pm

Absolutely sickening! It makes my blood boil whenever I see businesses engaging in sketchy activities gang up on a single individual all because that individual had the (gasp!) brazen temerity to suggest they toe-the-line. Steve, I'm expecting a bit of money in ten days and will gladly send you $100. 

Comment by Invest_In_Graphs on July 7, 2017 at 5:53pm


1. ACLU? No, no. Check with the State Bar and ask for referrals who may do pro bono civil litigation. Check with a lawyer referral service of the county in which the court sits and ask the same thing.

2. What relief are they seeking? An injunction or monetary damages?

3. Have you called the attorney to negotiate a settlement?

4. Have you already filed an Answer, Notice of Intention to defend, or similar?

5. If you defend yourself, one of the most critical areas of law to understand is Evidence. Namely, you have to know how to get your evidence admitted, theirs excluded, and object to hearsay. Hearsay is generally inadmissible, but there are many exceptions to that. Know them.

6. Call civil litigation firms and offer some autographs as payment. To be more succinct, scan the Complaint, Interrogatories, Requests for Admission, and other pleadings, along with scans of autographs you would trade. Send them in an email to a bunch of civil litigation law firms.

Comment by toby j. on July 7, 2017 at 6:11pm
It sucks to hear you have been put in this position.
Comment by Christopher Williams on July 7, 2017 at 7:18pm

Think about this...what if 1,000 members of this great site, donated just $5.00 a month for a year.

This is not only for Steve's defense, it's for all us, AML and our autograph hobby.

Comment by TradeGeek on July 7, 2017 at 8:07pm
Seeing that I'm not familiar with the specifics of the legal allegations, I'm not sure if this is relevant. But CA has decent anti SLAPP statues associated with the use of civil litigation as a tool to suppress protected (first amendment) speech. Has this been an angle discussed by your previous attorneys? Again, I'm not sure it is applicable but I can put you in touch with someone who helps find pro bono representation for cases which involve litigation where the intention is to suppress protected speech. He's a big time attorney and a good guy and very passionate about this issue. Shoot me an email. If the case fits that profile I'd be happy to make an Introduction.
Comment by Jason Charnick on July 7, 2017 at 8:15pm

Hi Steve, I know it's not much, but I just gave you a small donation, and if I can help more in the future, I certainly will. Thanks for providing these wonderful forums, and keep fighting the good fight!

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on July 7, 2017 at 8:43pm

Thanks, Trade Geek! We filed an anti-SLAPP and lost most of it. The judge thought it should go to trial.


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