Beethoven Letter, Reagan and Magritte Archives, Rare Autograph Letters, in Profiles in History’s April 18th Auction

Beethoven Twice-Signed Autograph Letter


Profiles in History has a very interesting historical document auction on Monday, April 18, starting at 11 a.m. PDT. Joe Maddalena and his staff have assembled one of the finest collections of historic documents they’ve ever brought to auction. It’s an extraordinary catalog featuring 197 lots of rare and desirable, fascinating material.

The auction takes place at Profiles in History in Calabassas, Calif. on Monday at 11 a.m PDT. You can bid in person, by phone or online.

A few of their offerings:

The auction features Lincoln, Freud, John Quincy Adams, Mark Twain and other highly sought-after names. Many of the lots have notably desirable content. It’s a catalog you’ll definitely want to view if you’re an historic autograph collector.

A reminder: The auction is this Monday, April 18 at 11 a.m. PDT, so take a look at it now.

Review the catalog on You can bid online there, too.

View the printed catalog online at Profiles in History.

Register and view all your options here.

Remarkable Ronald Reagan archive of over 350 photographs (majority unpublished) and 128 letters - 92 autograph letters signed and 35 typed letters signed.

Remarkable Ronald Reagan archive of over 350 photographs (majority unpublished) and 128 letters – 92 autograph letters signed and 35 typed letters signed.


An important unpublished archive showcasing the intimate correspondence between René Magritte and his wife, Georgette Berger

An important unpublished archive showcasing the intimate correspondence between René Magritte and his wife, Georgette Berger.


You can email Profiles in History about the auction at

Or call them at 310-859-7701

RR Auction Sues Owner for Defamation, 14 Other Counts

New Hampshire-based auction house RR Auction filed a lawsuit in Federal Court on Tuesday, June 2, against Michael Johnson, owner of The complaint charges 15 counts, including business defamation, abusive litigation practices, false light invasion of privacy, interference with contractual relationships, misappropriation of RR Auction’s marks and trade name, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and cybersquatting.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Johnson resides in Bakersfield, Calif. RR Auction also has an office in Boston, Mass. The Boston Globe reported the suit on June 3: “Cybersquatting law could be tested in N.H. court case”

Johnson filed a lawsuit in California against RR Auction in 2012, claiming that RR Auction sold him forgeries and refused to honor their guarantee of authenticity. RR Auction claims that even though they believe that the autographs are genuine, they tried to refund Johnson’s money, but he would not return the autographs to them. They claim that Johnson is the first customer to file a lawsuit against them for failing to honor their guarantee in the company’s 39-year history.

RR Auction claims that Johnson registered in 2013, a domain that misappropriated RR Auction’s trade name, and began populating it with misinformation to harm their business in order to force them to settle his lawsuit against them. They say that by registering at least 13 domain names using RR Auction or the personal names of RR employees or owners in the title, Johnson has tried, and been successful, in coopting the attention of clients or potential clients. They claim he referred to his lawsuit as a class action lawsuit, but that despite soliciting 400 RR clients in California to join him in a class action, no one did and the California court wouldn’t certify a class.

Mr. Johnson also posted a scathing document online that he refers to as an “affidavit,” which he claims was written by a former employee, Karen “Kay” Burris. According to court documents, Burris was terminated in 2008 after it was discovered she embezzled what turned out to be $455,000 from RR Auction. Burris committed suicide shortly after RR Auction went to law enforcement with their discovery. The court in California excluded the document, referring to it as “hearsay,” “lack[ing] foundation,” and observing that “the content of it remains speculation.”

Preliminarily, RR Auction says that they will ask the Court shut down Mr. Johnson’s Internet domains that incorporate RR Auction’s mark and trade name and intentionally divert clients and potential clients to “this misinformation.”

Representatives at RR Auction”s law firm, Burns & Levinson LLP, released this statement:

“Rather than post websites riddled with salacious and outrageous accusations, we will let our court filings do the talking.  The law and facts are, we believe, firmly in our favor, and we are hopeful that the Court and any jury that may review this case will agree.

“When a dissatisfied former customer takes it upon himself to turn litigation into a platform to escalate a personal dispute beyond reasonable limits, highly respected companies like RR Auction are not obligated to sit back and take body blows indefinitely.  Too many people”s jobs, too many collectors” faith in the memorabilia industry, and the integrity of the judicial system are at stake.  We look forward to assisting RR Auction in this litigation.”

“We have built this company for almost 40 years with a guarantee, like no other auction house in this industry and we have ALWAYS honored that guarantee,” states RR Auction president Robert Eaton. “We hope that RR Auction’s customers, after months of hearing Mr. Johnson’s account, will pay equal attention to this litigation, and decide for themselves who they can believe: RR Auction, a trusted name in memorabilia auctions, or one man who has litigated three years over a handful of items totaling a few thousand dollars in value – items for which he was offered a full refund but refused.”

Johnson was served with the lawsuit June 3. Autograph will be covering this story on an ongoing basis as Johnson or his attorneys release their statements or file their responses.

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Christopher Morales: The Forger’s Best Friend

This is one of the most important articles we’ve ever published. It’s critical reading for anyone who is buying, or has bought, autographs. Originally posted on March 22, 2010, we just added over 75 images, so we updated the published date.

Go to Autograph Magazine Live! to learn more about forgeries, safe collecting, and what to do if you think you’re a victim.


It’s a heartbreaking story I’ve heard more times than I can count. It goes something like this:

Someone contacts me who bought signed memorabilia from a legitimate looking business—usually rock albums or guitars, but sometimes sports, Hollywood or historical autographs. Sometime later they needed money, but the seller they bought them from won’t make an offer. They try to sell or consign to other dealers or auctions and are shocked to find that no one wants their autographs. Those willing to explain say that they consider them forgeries.

“I don’t understand,” the collector says. “They came with authentication by Christopher Morales—he’s a court-approved forensic document examiner and there’s no one more respected than he is!”

The truth is that Christopher Morales is the most notorious autograph authenticator in America. I don’t know of one instance where a reputable dealer, auction or authenticator has seen an autograph authenticated by him that they thought was genuine.

The saddest thing for consumers, and the reputable autograph industry, is that most galleries and dealers who use Morales—or virtually any of the forensic examiners who “authenticate” memorabilia—prey on those new to autographs. They’re found in tourist meccas like Las Vegas, Florida, California and Hawaii. They supply unwitting charities with memorabilia for auctions. They’re often the first ads you see on Google. They’re the ones that have a regular supply of your favorite bands, stars and athletes—even signed guitars and albums where few, if any, are known. And once their victims learn the truth, they’re usually done with autographs for good.

I know of only one auction house where you can consign Morales-authenticated autographs: Coach’s Corner, who’s reputation is similarly dubious. They have up to 100 or more of his in every auction, and most sell for only 1% to 10% of market value. In their auction closing March 26, 2010, there was a Morales-authenticated 11×14 photo  supposedly signed by JFK currently at $39. They sold the same piece January 1, 2010 for $189. If it were real, it could easily bring $4,000 or more.

But even Coach’s Corner doesn’t think much of Morales. An April 18, 2008 New York Daily News article, Beatles Authenticator at Heart of Memorabilia Suit, quotes Coach’s Corner’s Lee Trythall’s opinion of him: “There are authenticators whose work seems better. There are guys who are more qualified.” The article is a must-read if you own or are considering buying Morales-authenticated autographs.

Here is a photo album of every Christopher Morales authenticated item with an image in a Coach’s Corner auction that closed in January 2010. You can see larger images with comments from collectors, experts and dealers on Autograph Magazine Live! Just click each image:

Find more photos like this on Autograph Magazine Live!

The reason so many inexperienced buyers don’t question letters of authentication by Morales is that he’s promoted as a “court-approved forensic document examiner” who uses “scientific methods” to authenticate autographs, and has “credentials.” That sounds official and reassuring, doesn’t it? Call a few other forensic examiners, though, and you’ll find that it takes hours, days or weeks to do an evaluation, and most charge $200 an hour or more.

What does Morales charge? Reportedly $75 to collectors and less to dealers—per item. And with his items in Coach’s Corner often selling for under $200, he must charge a lot less sometimes. How can he make a living at that and do a real forensic examination? For that matter, how can he do the thousands of authentications he does a year if they’re true forensic examinations?

I’m sure there are times he charges more, like the time he authenticated a guitar for Rock Star Gallery purportedly signed by the Beatles. After all, he flew with it to Scottsdale, Ariz. for an auction they were holding in 2006, according to this article in And when he got there he was going to authenticate all the other autographs in the auction—a charity auction benefiting Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

I wonder if the buyer of that Beatles guitar has found out that the only recognized authentic one has been in the hands of the same collector since the 1990s? [Editor’s Note: We recently were informed that the genuine Beatles guitar was reportedly destroyed in a mudslide in Malibu, Calif., in 2004.]

Here’s the guitar Morales authenticated for Rock Star Gallery. Ask anyone who knows Beatles autographs what they think of it.

Morales authenticated forged Beatles guitar offered at a charity auction by Rock Star Gallery

Another claim by those who use Morales is that unlike him, rock authenticators such like Roger Epperson and Beatles expert Frank Caiazzo—two of the most respected authenticators in music—have a conflict of interest because they also deal in autographs. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with the many respected dealers and auction houses who have depended on them for years. Why would they use them if they couldn’t be trusted?

And what about Morales—is he really independent?

In October 2009, Autograph magazine discovered that Florida autograph gallery American Royal Arts was using photos of music artists doctored to appear they were signing the guitars ARA was selling. It was so shocking the story was covered on ABC News 20/20 and Inside Edition.

Here are the altered and original photos:

Find more photos like this on Autograph Magazine Live!

ARA owner Jerry Gladstone claimed he had no idea the photos were fake; that they were provided by Gallery of Dreams, the supplier of the signed guitars. But he assured everyone that even though the photos were fake the guitars were genuine, because he had them authenticated by an independent court approved forensic examiner.

Christopher Morales was that “independent” authenticator. He’s been ARA’s favored authenticator for years. But not only is Morales also Gallery of Dreams’ authenticator, he was listed as a company executive on their Executive Profiles page until the scandal broke.

Is that what you’d call independent?

A number of the musicians who supposedly signed the guitars said their autographs were forgeries. But we’ve never seen any memorabilia from Gallery of Dreams we thought was genuine, so that wasn’t a surprise. Sadly, Gallery of Dreams is one of the biggest suppliers of signed memorabilia to charity auctions—over $40,000,000 worth according to their claims.

I’m sorry to tell you all this if you own autographs authenticated by Christopher Morales. But the sooner you find out if your memorabilia is bad, and unfortunately, I suspect you will, the sooner you can take action against the parties involved.

Since the seller may say that dealers who don’t use Morales are biased against him, consider doing this: Send images of your items to auction houses and dealers, saying your interested in selling. Don’t tell them where you bought them or that they’re authenticated by Morales. Don’t send images of COAs or paperwork. Just tell them you’re interested in selling and ask how much they’ll pay or what they think it will bring in their auction. Hear what they have to say.

You’re welcome to let me know at

If you find out I’m right, I’ll try to help.