2013 PSA/DNA Autograph Report: The Ten Most Dangerous Autographs

by Joe Orlando and Steve Grad
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PSA/DNA

Since 1998, PSA/DNA has evaluated approximately three and a half million autographs. Last year alone, PSA/DNA's team of experts reviewed over 400,000 autographs from collectors and dealers worldwide. Unfortunately, as a result of the popularity and value of many autographs, a good portion of them are forged by unscrupulous individuals.

In fact, it is not uncommon for the rate at PSA/DNA to meet or exceed 50% on some of the more prominent names. What is most startling about that statistic is the fact that PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries since hobbyists are well aware of our expertise and standing in the industry. In other words, if the rejection rate for a particular autograph approaches 50% with PSA/DNA, you can only imagine how high that percentage of forgeries might be in the overall marketplace.

In our opinion, these are The Most Dangerous Entertainment Autographs in 2013. The values provided range from average quality cut signatures or photos to premium items such as high-end baseballs or jerseys. Please note that truly exceptional examples and special items can bring even more than the prices listed.

Read the Full List

Justin Beiber

Justin Bieber, love him or hate him, remains in the spotlight as a pop artist and social media figure. Bieber, who turns 20 in 2014, has built upon the momentum started in his early-teen years. His career, which has mimicked the early career of Brittney Spears to some degree, has produced millions of album sales and a net worth of which most legendary musicians would be envious. As recently as the fall of 2013, Bieber's net worth was estimated in the $130 million-plus range. Likely a result of his incredible success and hectic lifestyle, genuine Bieber autographs have become one of the most difficult contemporary entertainment signatures to come by according to the staff at PSA/DNA. Bieber's autograph "pass" percentage is estimated to be in the low single digits and you can expect to pay $250 or more for a genuine signed photo.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford has become one of the true living legends of Hollywood after six decades as an actor and a host of blockbuster films. Ford's iconic roles, playing characters such as Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan, have ensured his permanent place in movie lore. Ford, while a relatively private person, has been an accommodating signer over the years when available. That said, limited quantities of genuine Ford signatures exist in the marketplace because the availability itself has been limited. You can expect to pay $350 or more for a Ford-signed photo, with autographed movie posters bringing a serious premium...especially ones related to his classic movie roles.

The Hunger Games Cast

In case you’ve been living in a cave, The Hunger Games is a film series based on the science fiction novel trilogy authored by American writer Suzanne Collins. The first film, which is titled after the first novel, The Hunger Games, earned $691,247,768 worldwide. The second installment titled The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which was released in late November in 2013, topped the U.S. box office once again as the highest grossing film during its opening weekend, surpassing even its predecessor's debut with a gross of $158.1 million. The final piece to this trilogy will arrive in two parts in the coming years, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I (2014) and Mockingjay - Part II (2015).

The films, which were directed by Gary Ross and later Francis Lawrence, star Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth as the three leading characters. Due to its overwhelming popularity, items signed by key cast members have been selling for strong numbers in the marketplace, enticing forgers into the fold.

$1,000 and up for a signed photo/movie poster and $125-$250 for individual key cast members.

The Rolling Stones

Since the early 1960s, The Rolling Stones have been making hit records. Their longevity is remarkable. Not only does their music remain popular, but they are still performing like they were 50 years ago! There have been some changes to the band over time but the most recognizable members are Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards and, of course, maybe the most charismatic lead vocalist in music history - Mick Jagger. Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Taylor, Dick Taylor, Tony Chapman and Charlie Watts have also been members of the legendary rock group at different times. Since the two key figures are still alive and well in Jagger and Richards, items signed by the band are actually relatively affordable, compared to those signed by The Beatles (including Lennon), considering their place in history.

PSA AutographFacts: $1,200 and up for a signed photo and $3,500 and up for a signed guitar.

Jimi Hendrix

This guitar legend died at the age of 27 after vaulting to the top of the music world. His death was also shrouded in controversy and the way it happened is still a subject of debate today. While there are some similarities surrounding their deaths, Hendrix autographs, a common target of forgers, are considered even tougher than other similar stars like Jim Morrison's. In fact, the earliest known Hendrix contract (1965) sold for about $200,000 at auction in 2009, one of the highest prices ever recorded for a signed contract of any sort...even in the sports genre.

PSA AutographFacts: $2,500 for a signed cut to $7,500 or more for a signed photo.

Jim Morrison

As the lead singer of The Doors, Morrison became a virtual overnight sensation in the late-1960s, but the rock-and-roll lifestyle contributed heavily to his undoing. In 1971, he died at the age of 27 in Paris, France, and there is still a cloud of mystery surrounding the circumstances of his passing. Most of the genuine autographs found today come in the form of check endorsements, but forgers target albums, photos and even simple slips of paper. In fact, a very simple, signed piece of paper sold for over $5,000 at auction in 2012.

PSA AutographFacts: $1,500 for a signed cut to $4,500 or more for a signed photo.

Marilyn Monroe

Yet again, another celebrity who passed away at a very young age (36 in 1962), which resulted in a very limited number of authentic autographs for fans of the iconic actress. Forgers tend to target photos of Monroe as their primary medium. Monroe-signed checks and documents do exist, and both mediums are very popular with collectors. A dual-signed baseball of Monroe and her former husband Joe DiMaggio sold for an astonishing $191,200 in 2006. A photo signed and personalized from Monroe to the Yankee Legend sold for over $60,000 in November of 2010. In 2012, what is believed to be Monroe's last signed check, dated August 4, 1962, sold for $15,000, and a personalized photo from circa 1956 sold for $32,500 at auction. Finally, in 2013, a signed letter from Monroe to Lee Strasberg in which she expresses her struggles with the pressures of Hollywood, sold for $156,000.

PSA AutographFacts: $2,500 for a signed cut to $15,000 or more for a signed photo.

Michael Jackson

The King of Pop found his way into our top ten this year. With his recent passing in 2009 at the age of 50, Jackson forgeries flooded the marketplace in 2010. A subject of great controversy throughout the latter half of his career, Jackson's contribution to music has received greater appreciation following his death than ever before. While genuine signed photos sell for $1,000 and higher on the open market, forgeries are often listed online for a fraction of that price. In 2010, a ball that was signed by Jackson and basketball star Michael Jordan sold for $294,000 at auction in China. It is not uncommon for Jackson's handwritten lyrics to bring well into five figures at auction.

PSA AutographFacts: $350 for a signed cut to $1,000 or more for a signed photo.

John F. Kennedy

Beyond being one of the most popular Presidents in U.S. history, there has always been a mystique about Kennedy. Shot and killed at the age of 46 in 1963, the number of authentic signatures is very small. In addition to large amounts of forgeries, non-malicious "Kennedy" forgeries were produced by secretaries and via autopen during his tenure in office. A small group of love letters made out to Gunilla von Post of Sweden (a woman he had an affair with prior to his marriage) sold for $115,537 in March of 2010 at auction. Like most U.S. Presidents, autographs that were signed during his time in office usually sell for price premiums versus examples that were signed before election.

PSA AutographFacts: $1,750 for a signed cut to $25,000 or more for a Presidential letter/document.

Neil Armstrong

It may come as a surprise, but astronauts are one of the popular autograph collecting themes in the hobby. With that in mind, it is easy to see why an autograph from the first man to set foot on the moon (1969) would be the pinnacle of these collections, especially in light of his passing in 2012. In fact, authentic signed photos of the entire Apollo 11 crew fetched more than $7,000 each at auction this past year. Over the past three decades, Armstrong had a virtual no-autograph policy, making it even more difficult for collectors to obtain the genuine article. One of the most sought after Armstrong signed items is the familiar NASA studio-style photograph, which the late-astronaut signed for fans. But beware, it is also a popular medium for forgeries.

PSA AutographFacts Mantle: $1,500 for a signed cut to $5,000 or more for a signed photo.

The Beatles

They are, quite simply, the most heavily forged band in the autograph world. George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr made up The Fab Four, a band that was together for a relatively short period of time (about 10 years from 1960-1970). Lennon's early passing, at the age of 40 in 1980, also contributes to the low number of complete, authentic examples of this mega-popular hit machine. In 2012, an autograph purported to be Lennon's last (dated December 8, 1980), sold for $72,000 at auction. Even a few vintage signed baseballs of the group have sold for over $40,000 at auction. A fairly recent example, dating to 1965, sold at auction for $65,725 in May of 2012. Finally, in 2013, a signed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album sold for an astonishing $290,500, setting a new price standard.

PSA AutographFacts: $5,000 for a signed cut to $15,000 or more for a signed photo.

Elvis Presley

The King of Rock and Roll leads our non-sports list in 2013, for the third time in four years. Passing away at only 42 years of age in 1977, the amount of authentic autographs is extremely limited. Elvis' popularity is global. For example, large numbers of forgeries can be found in Europe, not just the United States. More specifically, Germany and the Netherlands. Very few handwritten letters, which are extremely desirable, are known of this American Icon. Signed photos are the most prevalent type of authentic Elvis autographs, but they still have been known to sell for thousands of dollars at auction. In fact, even a 1953 Draft card, signed by the music legend, sold for $26,290 within the last few years.

PSA AutographFacts: $1,500 for a signed cut to $35,000 or more for a signed contract or letter.

Most Dangerous Sports Autographs

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