RR Auction Sues rrauctionlawsuit.com 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 rrauctionlawsuit.com. 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 rrauctionlawsuit.com 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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Autograph Magazine Signed Beatles Album Census

Beatles albums signed by John, Paul, George and Ringo are among the most valuable and desirable Rock ’n’ Roll collectibles. Only about 125 are known; most being their first album, “Please Please Me.” But how many signed Beatles albums really exist? Autograph Magazine wants to find out.

Announcing Autograph Magazine’s Signed Beatles Album Census. Our goal is to locate and track every Beatles album signed by the Fab Four, in order to preserve our musical heritage and protect collectors against forgeries. If you have an album signed by the Beatles, I encourage you to have yours counted. It’s free.

Genuine Beatles-Signed Abbey Road Album, UK Release

Genuine Beatles-Signed Abbey Road Album, UK Release. It was signed for “Apple Scruff” Cathy Sarver.

And if you have a Beatles album signed by all four band members, you’ve got something quite valuable. Albums in good condition typically range from about $15,000 for the most common one, “Please Please Me,” to well over $100,000 for some of the rarest albums, especially U.S. releases.


Most Beatles Albums Are Extremely Rare or Unknown Signed

You wouldn’t know it by the hundreds of albums offered online and in some memorabilia galleries, but band-signed Beatles albums are very hard to come by. Many are currently unknown, or there are only one or two examples. Some are “secretarials,” where some or all of the autographs were signed in the Beatles’ names by their management, staff…and occasionally one of the Beatles signing for others. But most are outright forgeries offered by sellers that prey on the unwary. They often come with certificates of authenticity from dubious authenticators and forensic document examiners.

Rule of Thumb: Only “Please Please Me” commonly sells for under $30,000 signed, and the occasional “With The Beatles.” Any other undamaged band-signed Beatles album priced in that range should be looked at with extreme caution.

How rare are genuine signed Beatles albums? These are Autograph’s estimates of the counts of signed Beatles albums that are accepted as genuine by the legitimate autograph community:


US Release Band-Signed Beatles Albums
4-5 “Meet the Beatles”
2 “Help”
1 “Beatles 65”
1 “Beatles VI”
0 “Rubber Soul”

2 “Revolver”
0 “Magical Mystery Tour”
0 “Abbey Road”
0 “Yellow Submarine”
1 “White Album”
1 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
0
Let it Be
12-13 Known


UK Release Band-Signed Beatles Albums
Roughly 75 “Please Please Me” (Their first album, signed in three 1963 UK promotional tours)
15-20 “With the Beatles” (The tail end of their easier accessibility)
8-10 “Hard Day’s Night”
3 “Beatles for Sale”
2 “Help”
1 “Rubber Soul”
1 “Revolver”
5 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
0 “Magical Mystery Tour” (All reissues from the 1980s and up.)
0 “White Album”
0 “Yellow Submarine”
2 “Abbey Road”
0 “Let it Be”
Roughly 112-119 Known (37-44 plus roughly 75 “Please Please Me” albums)


How to Participate in the Census

  1. Email large images of your album showing the autographs clearly to Beatles@autographmagazine.com, along with your name, state or province, and country. Put “Beatles Census” and the title of the album in the subject line.
  2. Send separate emails for each album.
  3. In preliminary authentication, we weed out albums with signatures we believe are clearly forgeries. We want to do this without knowing how you acquired the album or who authenticated it, whenever possible. So don’t tell us or include receipts or authentication papers. If there is an authentication sticker on an unsigned side of your album, please don’t include the image of that side at this time. We may ask for its history later.
  4. After preliminary authentication, the images of all albums, approved or rejected, will be entered in our Beatles Signed Album Census forum for comment and discussion, without your name or the album’s history mentioned. You’re welcome to participate in any and all discussions. We’ll review all commentary in the forum before registering an album with the census.

 

Two Levels of Signed Beatles Album Census Registrations:

  1. Confirmed: For albums inspected in person by at least one of our accepted experts. This is in addition to online authentication by several of our experts.
  2. Online: For albums authenticated and approved online only by our experts.

Submit your images to Autograph Magazine’s Signed Beatles Album Census today!

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