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  1. #1

    HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    Just got through watching the new episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and they had a story on about the sports memorabilia industry. It dealt with autographed items and the forgery ring that got busted a few years back that was getting all of their stuff authenticated by Donald Frangipani. They took a hidden camera to Frangipani's business and showed him 7 different forged items and he gave every single one of them a COA....They went back later and showed him that he got every single one of them wrong.

    The best thing about the show was that our own Richard Simon and GAI were the only authenticators who were 100% spot on in their authenticating. They both rejected all 16 items sent to them. I can't remember how many different authenticating companies they sent items too, but most of them gave COA's on the forged stuff.

    Another item of interest in the show was that Topps autograph card that had Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and ??? (Can't remember the fourth name) which sold for $85,000 on ebay has forged signatures of Ruth and Johnson according to Richard Simon, GAI and PSA/DNA.....One of the guys who was associated with the forgery ring is certain that the Ruth signature was done by his forger.

    Well worth watching and if you get the West Coast HBO feed then you should be able to see this episode again tonight.

  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    Thanks for the heads-up, I was able to catch the left coast airing... A couple of questions:

    1) what was the name of the second authenticator who nailed the forgeries (GAI was one and "our own Richard Simon" - sorry I don't know who that is - was the other) and what were the names of the ones who blew it;
    2) who are the "reputable" authenticators (to date, I have only bought items autheticated by PSA/DNA - who appeared to have gotten the Ruth/Johnson card right- and GAI); and
    3) which "memorabilia dealers" should be/are considered to be solid (for example, I have generally limited my signed and/or game used purchases to MLB, Tri-Star, Steiner, Mounted Memories and the Clemens Foundation).

    I'm pretty new to this whole game-used and signed memorabilia world, and appreciate the assistance.


  3. #3

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    Sorry, I can't help you on who is reputable and who is not because I don't collect autographs. I thought I would post this here because I know a lot of collectors here do. I can tell you that Richard Simon is probably the best in the autograph authentication business and he at one time was a frequent contributor on the old Net 54 board....I'm not sure if he has posted here since the merger of the two forums.

    As for the show I was a little disappointed in that they didn't point out the authentication companies who got the items wrong. I was not really surprised to see Upper Deck (I know I wrote "TOPPS" in my original post, but it was indeed Upper Deck that made the 4 signature card) was fooled, but I am surprised that they made that 1/1 card without getting the signatures authenticated first....they had to know that card was going to get some media attention when it was found.

  4. #4

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    This is the 1/1 card in question I believe. I don't collect autographs, but this card still did amaze me. Disappointed (but not suprised) to see it's a fake.

  5. #5

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    What's interesting is that because it is on an Upper Deck card that is allegedly authentic, I would have not necessarily thought there was a problem. Closer examination of the two autographs in question shows that the Ruth signature is not real smooth and the J in Johnson is a hybrid between his later signature and early signature.

    It's too bad that someone spent 85K for this!!

    Rob L

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    Unbiased reporting? I believe it was a total of 6 different authenticators / companies besides Frangipani.

    It is really a shame they only mentioned Frangipani by name in regard to the authentication of "alleged" forgeries. Why was he the only one that the hidden camera trick was used on?

    Why didn't they do that with all the ones that authenticated the "alleged" forgeries, or at the very least, mention their names?

    Now that Upper Deck Authenticated is mentioned in the Real Sports report as having sold "alleged" forgeries, does that make their other vintage autographed items questionable?

    Makes one wonder how "unbiased" this report actually was.

  7. #7

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    That's a good question Sammy. I would assume that Frangipani was accessible while the others weren't. It could be that they used the hidden camera on some of the others, but the others weren't fooled by the forgeries? What's really a shame is that Frangipani wasn't put away with the rest of the scum that was involved in the forgery ring. IMO he was an accessory to the crime....he never turned any of that stuff down, even when he was getting piles of Ruth autos all at once.

    With that said I would love to know the names of the other companies that gave COA's on the forged items. I have it on my DVR so I'll have to watch it again and see if I can freeze frame the screenshot of the COA's they show.

  8. #8

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    It is really a shame they only mentioned Frangipani by name in regard to the authentication of "alleged" forgeries. Why was he the only one that the hidden camera trick was used on?
    Hello Sammy-

    I believe the reason Real Sports used the hidden camera with Frangiapani was because Frangiapani's name was the one that came up in the tape recordings of the forgery ring saying he was the person who would authenticate the items if submitted to him. I might be mistaken but I don't believe any other authenticators were mentioned on the taped conversations and Frangiapani was apparently the one who authenticated the vast majority of the items in question.

    However, it is interesting that they intentionally did not want to show the other authenticators that didn't "pass" their test with additional items. Apparently, they wanted to focus on the ones that did pass their test (Global Authentication and Richard Simon) to establish their credibility since they also asked them to render an opinion on the Upper Deck SP Quad card.

    Does anyone else have a different take?

    Christopher Cavalier
    CEO - Game Used Universe

  9. #9
    Senior Member ironmanfan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Re: HBO's Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel - Must see Episode

    If you recall, when the FBI guy was in the warehouse that stored the forged inventory of Greg Marino, they ran across numerous forged items (i.e. Ruth cuts) that already had Frangiapani's "COA's" (all with the same date). The HBO Producers sent the stuff back to him to see if he would authenticate it a 2nd time as legit (which he did). Thats the main reason I believe that they profiled him..............Why would any collector be sympathetic to this guy?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Wink The Devil's Advocate

    Well, you have to admit, he is consistent in his opinion, right or wrong.

    The items he reviewed again were "alleged" to be items he reviewed 5+ years ago.

    Being as these were from totally different and new "clients", you cannot factually state he authenticated these just because they came from a certain individual or group.

    It appears he truly believes these items are consistent with the individual's handwriting and/or autograph.

    Perhaps it is not dishonesty on the part of Mr. Frangipani, but his honest opinion.

    Just like the opinion's of the other four individuals / companies that failed this test, but were not exposed or named on a national broadcast. I truly wonder why their names were not exposed. Doesn't seem very fair or unbiased to me.

    Let the discussion begin.



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