(Newport Beach, CA) - There's less than a 50-50 chance autographs of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are genuine in the billion dollar sports collectibles and autographs marketplace, according to the second annual survey by PSA/DNA Authentication Services, the world's largest third-party authentication service for autographs and collectibles.
PSA/DNA, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT) of Newport Beach, California, cautions there has been a significant increase in fake Ronald Reagan autographs in the months following his death this past June.
The second annual PSA/DNA Authenticity Probability Index (API) tracks the percentage of authentic autographs submitted to PSA/DNA experts for examination and authentication in 2004. The results underscore the need for collectors and dealers to take proper precautions to avoid forgeries.
"Only 33 percent of the Michael Jordan signatures and only 42 percent of the Ronald Reagan signatures sent to us this year were judged genuine. However, the situation in the marketplace is actually worse because collectors and dealers generally do not send us obvious forgeries," said Joe Orlando, PSA/DNA President.
Here are the "Ten Most Dangerous Sports Autographs" in 2004, according to PSA/DNA:
PSA/DNA began authenticating non-sports autographs during 2004, and here are initial findings on some of those forgeries:
For the second consecutive year, the most frequently submitted signature to PSA/DNA for authentication in 2004 was Mickey Mantle's, and only 59 percent of the Mantle autographs submitted were deemed genuine.
"There is tremendous demand for Lou Gehrig's autograph, but forgeries are prevalent in the marketplace. Gehrig was a very private person whose life was cut short by the disease that now bears his name, and he signed far less frequently than his legendary teammate, Babe Ruth," said Orlando.
"Autograph sales are responsible for a significant portion of the billion dollar sports collectibles business. With all the money being spent by collectors, it is imperative that they are informed about the dangers of forgeries in the marketplace and they insist on credible, third-party authentication."
"The market for autographs of entertainment and historical figures from Marlon Brando to Abraham Lincoln also is plagued with the same problems as the sports autograph market. Some experts believe the percentage of these forgeries is even worse than the sports autograph market," Orlando stated.
Since its founding in 1991, PSA/DNA experts have examined over 8 million collectibles including autographs, sports cards and other sports memorabilia. PSA/DNA certified the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium in 1923 and that recently sold for nearly $1.3 million; Mark McGwire's 70th home run baseball that sold for $3 million; and Hank Aaron's 715th home run bat and ball.
PSA/DNA services are used by the NFL to authenticate game-used Super Bowl footballs and Pro Bowl equipment.