Man Inherits 80,000 Autographs: 22 Marilyn Monroes, 12 Steve McQueens, Elvis, James Dean, Disney, John Lennon, More

  • David Kuflik showing some of his 80,000 autographs on Fox TV's Amazing Inheritances.
    David Kuflic on Fox Business TV's "Strange Inheritances" with host, Jamie Colby

 

When Microsoft laid-off David Kuflik in 2014 he had lots of time on his hands—and lots of autographs inherited from his dad and aunt. Collected mostly in-person from the 1950s to 2012, the collection spans Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen, to Jackie Robinson, Elvis, John Lennon, Steven Spielberg and Tupac Shakur. And many multiples.

It’s an incredible collection.

My father, Harvey Kuflik, and aunt, Rhoda Kuflik, started collecting in-person autographs in New York in the early 1950’s and continued vigorously collecting their whole lives. Harvey passed in 2002 and Rhoda passed in 2012.

Both collected for the love of it and didn’t sell their autographs. Their collections are fully intact and almost all of them were collected in person. My father also acquired a couple smaller autograph collections from his collecting friends in Hollywood.

I collected actively with my father in Hollywood as a kid in the 1980’s. I inherited their collections and after working 17 years at Microsoft, I left my day job and have dedicated the past two years full-time curating this collection.

David has spent 2 years cataloging the 80,000-plus autographs, and he’s starting to sell them. Check out the 164 he sold at RR Auction. He’ll be selling soon through his own web store, too.

Don’t miss David’s Autograph Live discussion about his collection. Members have posted wish lists. And check out the gallery of his collection he just made public: thekuflikcollection.com.

Be careful—don’t drool on your computer.

David Kuflik and his collection are featured in the Fox Business Channel Strange Inheritances episode “Autograph Addicts.”

Official Star Wars Autographs & Photos Now Offered by Lucasfilm, Topps & MLB Division Partnership

Official Star Wars 16×20 framed photo signed by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. $1,049

Disney’s Lucasfilm, Topps and Major League Baseball’s Authenticators, Inc. subsidiary launched Star Wars Authentics, starwarsauthentics.com, on December 21, offering witnessed autographed photos of Star Wars actors, and official unsigned Star Wars photos. The launch follows the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Authenticators, Inc. and Topps have prior Disney connections. Authenticators is run by Major League Baseball, and Disney just made a billion dollar investment in their BAM Tech subsidiary. Topps is partially owned by Tornante, a company owned by Michael Eisner, the former chairman of Disney.

“We identified a hole in the entertainment industry, a need for certified authentic pieces for the Star Wars brand, and with this collaboration we are able to meet consumer demand. Topps excels in visual arts and printing technologies and we are thrilled to bring our expertise to Star Wars, building upon our trading card and Major League Baseball memorabilia business.” said David Leiner, Topps’ General Manager and Vice President of the North American Sports and Entertainment division. [Read more…]

The Quest for Neil Armstrong’s Autograph

Apollo 11 crew photo signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin

Originally published in the July 2009 print edition of Autograph magazine.

My quest started in 1979. While browsing in a bookstore, I picked-up a copy of The Book of Autographs by Charles Hamilton. The large and impressive Neil Armstrong autograph on page 95 blew me away. I was hooked.

Although I grew up in Houston near NASA, I was not a space enthusiast, much less an autograph collector. But there was something worth investigating in that signature and in autograph collecting. Soon thereafter, Linn’s Stamp News published an article on the First Man on the Moon numbered prints by artist Paul Calle, the lithograph that was the model for the First Man on the Moon stamps. I purchased one print for a nominal $50. In the same year, I joined the UACC and haven’t stopped collecting since. [Read more…]

PSA and PSA/DNA Opening New Jersey Office

(Woodbridge, New Jersey) — To meet the increasing needs of collectors and dealers in the eastern U.S., especially in autographs, Professional Sports Authenticator and PSA/DNA Authentication Services are opening an office in Woodbridge, N.J., this summer.

Only in-person submissions will be accepted at the new office, by appointment. All mailed and shipped submissions should still be sent to PSA and PSA/DNA’s Calif. office unless pre-approved by the staff.

“We’re very excited about the New Jersey office,” said Joe Orlando, President of PSA and PSA/DNA. “It is near I-95 and centrally located between New York City and Philadelphia. Considering the concentrated customer base on the upper east coast, and the growing popularity of PSA/DNA-certified autographs, the time is right to provide an additional location for our customers.”

Orlando said the new office will improve turnaround times on many submissions.

“We’ve had three consecutive record quarters for PSA/DNA, and some members of our staff have been traveling over 100,000 miles each year to service our customers. A few of our California employees will be relocating to the New Jersey office, and we’ll be hiring additional employees. By being able to process autographs on both coasts more efficiently, our turnaround times will naturally improve.”
Only autographs will be processed in New Jersey, but, the new office will accept all other submissions, including trading cards, tickets, photographs, sports memorabilia and game-used items for evaluation by PSA and PSA/DNA authenticators and graders in California and elsewhere.

“We’ll be able to encapsulate authenticated items in the New Jersey office, such as autographed cuts and autographed cards,” Orlando said. “It also will be easier and more convenient for eastern U.S. collectors and dealers to submit larger items, such as autographed bats and helmets, without mailing them.”

The New Jersey office will host open submission days, similar to PSA Fridays in Calif., where the public can personally submit items and meet PSA and PSA/DNA staff members.

“People have been asking me for several years, ‘When are you going to open an east coast office?'” Orlando said. “The answer is this summer, and we’ll have additional information about it in the weeks ahead with a formal announcement at the National Sports Collectibles Convention.

For a list of PSA and PSA/DNA services go to www.psacard.com/services.

For additional information, contact PSA Customer Service at 800-325-1121 or by email at info@PSAcard.com.

 

Q&A on Forgeries, Fakes and Corruption vs. Love

BY KEVIN NELSON  Recently I received an email from Stephen Andon, a PhD candidate in Communication at Florida State University, who is writing a dissertation on sports memorabilia. After having read Operation Bullpen and the blogging  I’m doing for Autograph Magazine and at my Bullpen website, he wanted to ask me a few questions about forgeries (such as this Babe Ruth fake, penned by Greg Marino) and corruption in the sports memorabilia industry. Here are excerpts from our discussion:

Is it interesting to you that we keep finding forgeries today — even important pieces – such as pieces in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Can we simply attribute that to how widespread the forgery problem was up until Operation Bullpen?

Kevin Nelson: I do find it interesting that forgery is just as prevalent now as it was in the late nineties when the FBI busted the original Bullpen gang. At the time federal officials estimated that 90 percent of all signed pieces sold on the Internet were fake. After a ton of criticism the feds changed their tune to say only 50 percent of autographs were fake. The truth is, nobody knows. But the number is, without doubt, substantial. Forgery remains a big problem.

Now, I’m using the “forgery problem” in the past tense, but is it accurate to use the past tense? In other words, has the memorabilia industry changed enough that forgeries are no longer as prevalent?

Kevin Nelson: Nope. I receive emails all the time from people who see fakes being sold on eBay and elsewhere. John Olson was one of the greatest Ali forgers, who worked with Chuck Wepner in defrauding people and who was busted in the second phase of the Operation Bullpen investigation. He called me the other day just to check in and said that he still sees his stuff being sold online.

One of the consequences of Operation Bullpen is that leagues, teams, and memorabilia companies have partnered together to create a new era of authenticity, with professional authenticators, holograms, Internet-tracking, and the like. Were these procedures necessary to re-establish the credibility in the memorabilia industry? Or, again, is that claim overly simplistic?

Kevin Nelson: The latter. The efforts to combat fraud have had a real but limited impact in part – in large part, one might say – because of the consumer. People think they’re getting a bargain online when they see a signed Mickey Mantle photo being sold for 75 bucks, and they scoop it up. It is, of course, almost certainly a fake. But either these people don’t know what they’re buying, or they don’t care. In either case, they are buying fakes and often feeling good about it because they’ve gotten it for such a good price. Forgeries usually sell for less, and often considerably less, than the real thing.

Furthermore, through Steiner (and other companies, of course), I believe you can pre-order game-used baseballs or bases or jerseys, etc. Does that ruin any of the spontaneity of sport, a la a Mean Joe Greene’s Pepsi moment, or am I drunk on nostalgia?

Kevin Nelson: No, you’re not nostalgic at all. Sports fans love this stuff. That’s why there is such a huge and growing market for game-used material and continuing strong demand for autographed material, despite a bad economy. I live near San Francisco, and people out here went nuts for the Giants this year. They had to have something associated with the team. That’s why forgers and fraud artists have such a thriving business. They are exploiting something that is real: people’s love for sports. People feel passionate about these athletes and they want to connect with them, somehow. Collecting is one way they can do that.

All that being said, are fans more savvy to the perils of Internet or E-bay shopping than they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Kevin Nelson: Collectors are definitely more sophisticated than they were in the nineties. Although they were aware back then of the potential for fraud, most people did not understand how widespread it was until the Operation Bullpen busts. First there were the FBI busts in Chicago mainly of Michael Jordan fake merchandise. But those were local stings. Then came the much larger busts of the Bullpen ring, which exposed a national operation doing tens of millions of dollars of business as part of a very clever and formidable criminal conspiracy. Most serious collectors are aware that a good deal of the supposedly legitimate stuff that is sold on eBay is actually garbage.

As a follow-up, when stadium dirt or player jerseys or some other kind of game-used memorabilia is broken up into hundreds of pieces and sold off in pieces assembled in frames and such – to the point where it seems they are not so different from mass produced items – does that water down what’s special about the item when it’s whole?

Kevin Nelson: Well, it depends. If people are aware of what they’re buying, and it’s legitimate, I don’t think it’s a rip-off to sell them a piece of turf from old Yankee Stadium if that’s what they’re interested in buying. They have a lot of great memories of what happened on that turf and to have a piece of it in their house, well, that’s kinda cool. Derek Jeter and A-Rod walked on that piece of dirt there, that’s now in my living room. It’s a great conversation piece when you have the guys over to watch the game.

Kevin Nelson is the author of Operation Bullpen: The Inside Story of the Biggest Fraud in American History. Contact him here.