Tuesday, August 25, 2020

FORGE GET ME NOTS -- Yes, Julie Newmar Forgeries are Out There

The comments left on celebrity Facebook pages range from the endearing to the alarming, with a lot of not very original "reaction memes" and woefully unoriginal remarks in between. 

This is why most of it is never even seen by the celebrity.  

Recently a fan left a series of off-topic comments on a serious problem: forgeries.  It was more of a warning to others: 

Unfortunately, it's easier than ever to fake signatures, thanks to digital technology, Photoshop, etc.  

Fans at "hit and run" memorabilia shows are very susceptible, since they get excited about something they see, and trust the dealer. They're not likely to take out a cellphone, and Google for photos to see if the autograph is similar to legit ones. The odds are that the item is real, but too many get taken.

Sometimes, like Canadian pennies at the supermarket, nobody notices a fake mixed in, and that includes reputable dealers who operate in bulk. if it's "nickel and dime" items on stars that don't fetch more than $10 or $20, a dealer might spend the time to look very closely, especially when forgeries (including secretarials and autopens) can take a lot of time to study and verify. 

Why are there so many forgeries involving eBay auctions? Well, let's quote an old song:

There's a somebody I'm longin' to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me
I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood....

Now who is that going to be? Who cares? 

Most celebrities don't. They don't have a VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) rep on eBay, since they don't want to pay somebody to expertly ferret out intellectual property abuses, or bother them with emails and attachments: "this looks like a forgery, confirm please" 

Ebay states "we are JUST a venue," and it's not their responsibility to know what's legit or not. It's up to VeRO reps to point it out. Which is a Catch-22. 

Fortunately, the odds of a Julie Newmar forgery being sold are a bit less. 

Julie and I do care. While I don't have time to inspect every signed photo that turns up on eBay, and sometimes you do have to examine the photo in person to detect the cheat, the more egregious imposters get caught. 

Here's a forger who offers a convincing Julie Newmar signed photo, even adding "Fondly," as Julie sometimes does. It's possible the seller Photoshopped a real "fondly, Julie Newmar" autograph off a photo with a white background, and then used a printer to spit that signature onto an 8x10. The only way for an expert to detect this kind of  cheat is by knowing the peculiarities of printer ink over pen ink, or checking if the dealer offers a lot of pictures where "fondly Julie Newmar" happens to always be the same size and slant every time. 

The mistake was to put the forgery on a Photoshop jobs where Julie's head is attached to the body of a dominatrix with a whip. The seller wanted to have a stand-out photo different from the usual Catwoman items on eBay...but it stood out a little TOO glaringly and he got caught. 

PETA is for the "ethical treatment" of animals. Some stars, including the Catwoman, believe in being ethical toward fans. She's on the side of justice in this case, and doesn't find the criminals quite so endearing and colorful as the ones in "Batman '66." It's easy to say "Caveat Emptor" (even if you don't know Latin) but if it doesn't take too much time to do a weekly check of eBay items, why not do it? As Sam Spade would say, forgeries are bad for business, bad all around. 

Sometimes a seller racks up so many positives he becomes "top rated." If he gets caught offering a bone-headed fake, he MIGHT be able to avoid suspension by claiming it was an "honest mistake." 

Ebay has NO firm rules on how many "honest mistakes" a seller can have before getting suspended. Here's a "top rated seller" who was headed for a $50 or perhaps $75 sale before his auction was stopped a few days short of completion: 

What I found galling about this guy's item was that line: "autograph obtained personally at Burbank Hollywood Autograph Show Last Year." Oh? When the lady in the photo is Lee, the movie Catwoman, not Julie, the TV Catwoman? 

In this case, the forgery is fairly amateurish. Julie's robust "swoop" on the letter J is deflated, the N is all wrong, and there's no fluidity between the w and the m. There are some other imperfections as well, regarding spacing and angle, as well as where and when the pen momentarily stops between certain letters. 

Here's a different problem: how many fans, dazzled by a $19.95 "bargain" know what RP means?

RP means REPRINT. "Caveat emptor" to those who didn't know that. A lot of sellers bury this bit of information in the fine print. Yes, these are removed. So are dupe photos in general, because the copyright owners, the studios, the photographers, the celebrities want their fans to get the best quality merchandise..."authorized." Why should a fan get a bad photo that will turn yellow in a few years, or fade? Not every celebrity or film/TV company cares about this, but many do. Disney is a well known example of a company that prides itself on protecting buyers from fakes. 

Sadly not everyone knows that Julie's website offers very reasonable prices on autographed photos AND that she really does personalize them. She doesn't use a secretary. Actually, this brings up another point  -- many famous stars do hand out "forgeries" all the time. Items sent in by mail to be signed are often faked by the secretary, which makes the star even less likely to care about what some eBay dealer is doing. This is unfortunate, because the odds are that a nefarious eBay dealer is a nefarious person in general, and the money going into the pocket of such a person might be financing other, worse illegal activities. 

The fact is that nobody is going to "watch over you," and treat you like a "lost lamb" when you're wandering around a memorabilia convention or surfing eBay.  Some owners of memorabilia events and some stars with VeRO reps on eBay do try to keep things ethical, but even with a super hero patrolling Gotham City, crimes do happen. 

Unholy Forgeries! Yes, it happens on Catwoman and Batman pictures all the time, and the practice is Purrrfectly Dastardly! 


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