In today's 24-hour news cycle, a celebrity's career can be undone in the blink of an eye. The story doesn't even have to be true in some cases, but if it is reported, the public forms its own perception, usually without all the facts. It can even go to trial...yet the presumption of innocence doesn't count in the world of public opinion. No matter what the jury concludes, no matter the final verdict....people's minds are already made up.
Newspapers love to plaster nasty headlines all over the front page if they have a couple of sources. Yet when these stories are refuted, retractions tend to be buried on some inside page printed in a box the size of a postage stamp.
What in the world does this have to do with autographs? That is what you are thinking right?
In the last 30+ years, I have collected more than my fair share of autographs, mostly those of living celebrities. This is where things get dangerous, a living hero can very likely do far more besides disappoint you. I have known plenty of collectors who specialize in just a single celebrity, spending decades going to shows, chasing this celebrity from game to game, or shoot to shoot. Amassing collections of hundreds of signed items of a single person. Sure it's a collection but it also becomes an investment for the future.
What happens when the future isn't so bright?
Hardcore hoarders fall into every category of autograph collecting. You might be lucky enough to have your hero remain untarnished but think about those that were less fortunate,.... good, solid, learned fans who collected nothing but Mark McGwire, or Jose Canseco, or Barry Bonds, or Alex Rodriguez, or maybe Pete Rose.
Baseball isn't the only field we are talking about here, there were Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson collectors.
People who put directors on a pedestal like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski, they have seen that pedestal eroded away.
Mel Gibson used to be one of the most sought after autographs, not so much after his drunken rants.
Bill Cosby is a funny guy, there is no doubt there, as a stand-up comedian, he is among the greatest to ever take the stage, his tv shows rank among the best to ever air. Yet no one seems to be bragging about their dozens of items signed by Bill today.
If Michael Jackson had lived, would we have ongoing threads about his autograph and artwork? Innocent or Guilty, just the idea of wrong doing turned off lots of fans and collectors.
People talk about not putting all their eggs in one basket......it might be high time to listen.
Whatever you do, whatever you choose to collect, mix it up a bit, the word of the day is
As Michael Conrad said every week on Hill Street Blues..."Let's be careful out there."