(Scroll to Bottom for Update)
In our last report we detailed several issues that sources said would surface in the RR Class Action Lawsuit related to allegations of shill-bidding and fraud and the reported suicide of RR’s CFO and bookkeeper Karen “Kay” Burris. Late Thursday the class action website posted a 2008 affidavit written by Burris for her attorney that alleges a myriad of criminal activity that occurred at the New Hampshire auction house and shows that the former RR employee feared for her safety after experiencing “veiled threats” from her boss (and RR owner) Bob Eaton. Just two weeks after signing the 12-page affidavit making the serious allegations against Eaton and his company Burris was found dead in her home in what the current Amherst Chief of Police described to Hauls of Shame as a “self-inflicted gun-shot wound.”
Sources indicate that Plaintiff Michael Johnson and his attorneys posted the affidavit on the lawsuit website after it was officially submitted as evidence in the Santa Barbara, California, court house serving as the venue for the litigation. Before the detailed affidavit was posted on the website, Hauls of Shame contacted the Amherst Police Department to confirm details of Burris’ death and to ask whether any statement written by her alleging wrongdoing by RR Auctions was ever entered as evidence in the case. Chief of Police Mark Reams told us he had never seen any such statement and that evidence in the case presented by RR after the company fired her showed that “she embezzled money from the company.” Chief Reams also stated that Burris’ husband settled a civil case with RR by paying back funds claimed by the auction house. Reams was the officer called to the Burris household and found the ex-RR bookkeeper dead and the victim of what he described as a “self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.” Reams also confirmed that he did not have any autopsy report in the Burris case file and was not aware of any claims that Burris feared for her life before she was found dead. In 2012, Reams replaced former Police Chief, Peter Lyon. who was his superior at the time of Burris’ death.
Karen Burris signed an affidavit just weeks before her death stating that she feared for her own safety and the safety of her family as a result of divulging information detailing alleged fraud and shill-bidding at RR Auctions.
The 2008 Burris affidavit posted on the class action website, however, appears to shed some more light on her relationship with RR and Eaton and shows that Burris did, in fact, fear for the safety of herself and her family. Burris also stated that her lawyer John Kacavas was going to “vigorously” defend her against RR’s claims of “financial improprieties.”
We followed up with Chief Reams and sent him a copy of the Burris affidavit for comment and he responded, “I am not in a position to review the affidavit, but can say that the alleged embezzlement was reported to our agency on 3/6/2008 at which point we initiated an investigation. Mrs. Burris died less than one month later on 4/2/2008 in the midst of that investigation.” Reams also confirmed that Burris died ”prior to the issuance of an arrest warrant.”
The 12-page affidavit prepared and signed by Karen Burris (left) was posted on the RR Class Action Lawsuit website on Thursday. Amherst Police Chief Mark Reams (right) says the police had no knowledge of Burris' statement at the time of her death and is currently "not in a position to review" the affidavit.
At the beginning of the document she gives an overview of her career at the auction house and the scope of the illegal activities she alleges:
“I believe that for the past five-plus years I have been working as a key employee of a privately-held company that systematically and knowingly defrauded certain buyers and sellers via its international auctions of important documents, important autographs and historical ephemera. I also believe that R&R and its principals have organized a group (of) industry insiders and associates that regularly colluded via phone, email, the U. S. Postal Service, and private couriers to regularly fix bidding in its monthly international auctions to affect the outcomes in favor of certain buyers at times; and certain sellers at other times.”
Burris continues her narrative and describes how she worked for the company for close to six years and rose from the position of office manager to CFO and bookkeeper after receiving training from Bob Eaton’s mother, Janet Eaton. who held both of those positions before she left work after developing cancer. Burris noted her work with Eaton, Bobby Livingston. Bill White and Elizabeth Otto and also revealed that Otto had “intimate knowledge of several years of R&R’s and Bob Eaton’s chicanery with allowing items into auction knowing their respective authenticity was either questionable, or many times knowingly fake.”
The Burris’ affidavit reveals that the CFO became part of the Eaton family “inner circle” and assumed a myriad of responsibilities which put her in a position to witness what she alleges are auction house improprieties:
“During the course of my employment with R&R I was provided almost daily briefings which included intimate details of illegal and dubious practices designed to defraud R&R clients (consignors) and the general public (bidders and successful buyers). On numerous occasions and on behalf of the family, I was asked to solve problems on a case by case basis, ranging from: Inquiries of claimed theft and fraud from former and current bidders/clients; from the US Justice Department regarding several instances where items appearing in R&R’s auctions were deemed stolen from the US National Archives; to members of the U.S. Congress and other luminaries claiming the same with their respective personal items either bought or sold via R&R; to numerous attorneys for their respective clients whereby “official notice” was demanded claiming ownership of various documents in R&R’s possession…..”
The Burris affidavit alleges that PSA/DNA authenticator John Reznikoff engaged in shill-bidding on his own consignments and that his monthly proceeds from RR auction sales ranged from the "$1,000's to $100,000."
Burris’ affidavit gives the most intimate details in relation to what she describes as rampant illegal shill-bidding at the auction house which she claims involved Bob Eaton and PSA authenticator and RR consultant John Reznikoff. In regard to Reznikoff Burris stated:
“A major consignor (to) R&R is allowed to bid on his own items to move up bids to the point that he is willing to sell the item. A special procedure was designed by Bob Eaton to permit collusion on prices, bid rigging; and profits for items placed into R&R auctions by Reznikoff. Reznikoff’s bidder number is 204.”
Burris goes on to describe further how Eaton and John Reznikoff engaged in shill bidding activity similar to the actions that took down auction kingpin Bill Mastro and Mastro Auctions :
“In any given auction, if Reznikoff “wins” his own item in a particular auction because he or Eaton could not max-out the bidding on that item with an unknowing bidder (or bidders), it is processed internally by Bill White differently than all other winning bids are processed- there is no sales invoice generated for him and the item shows as unsold on the “after auction profit list.” This system was designed by Bob Eaton, in direct collaboration with Reznikoff. so that Reznikoff was guaranteed a profit to his personal liking on any particular item; and a “no sale-no commission” policy so that he would continue to supply a higher quality (supposedly) number of items when R&R couldn’t get or didn’t have enough in any given auction. I know of numerous instances of this occurring over the past five years. Reznikoff consigns to almost every auction and has usually 10 or more items in each. Monthly consignor checks to Reznikoff range in value from $100’s to $100,000 each month. He bids on his own items with the full knowledge and consent of Bob Eaton and Carla Eaton.”
Burris also revealed her intimate knowledge of the bidding process and the RR computer system:
“To get the R&R bid logs one needs an administrative password- log-in to the website using that password and then you can click on any item, see the current high bidder, the maximum that they have on an item and there is a button you can use to see the bid log. It gives the name, number and amount of the bid as well as the time it was placed. Under the administrative password there is also a report called “auction totals.” When selected this generates a complete report of the current sales totals for the auction in process. It was designed as part of the web bidding process and implemented by Steve Long. Steve Long was told that when designing the report to ensure that the total omitted any high bids by the house auction bidder 0. These are the reserve bids. However, the totals on the administrative report generated off the website are subsequently not correct as they include bids from those consignors who are bidding on their own items on either their own bidder number of the bidder number given to them specifically to bid on their own items. The true auction sales report is generated in the company’s internal system after the auction by Bill White- after he has taken out the fictitious bids.”
Burris alleges that Heritage CEO Brian Halperin (left) was shill-bid by Eaton and RR on a Charles Schulz item (2nd from left) that sold for close to $40,000.
In one passage Burris details how Heritage Auctions executive Brian Halperin was shill-bid on a Charles Schulz autographed item:
“Some consignors have been given separate bidder numbers specifically so that they can use those to bid on their own items…Joe Long, uses an account set up in the name “Gerry Long”. A “Gerry Long” bid on “Joe Long” items and to my knowledge has never bid on anyone else’s items. In this February 2008 auction Gerry Long bid on the Charles Schulz item, item 594 catalog 330 and the eventual sales price was $38,569.09 (with bidder’s premium) “Joe Long” was the actual consignor of this Schulz item. This item was ultimately purchased by the CEO of Heritage Auctions, Mr. Brian Halperin, so much so that an avid R&R bidder, Mrs Charles Schulz herself, deemed the final price too high for the value of this particular Schulz item.”
In another passage Burris described in great detail how another RR client named Simone Peterson was defrauded by Eaton:
“When I first worked there, bidder 5461 was used to bid against maximum bids. I noticed it because I always took the bids placed by a regular client named Simone Peterson (NY) bidder 6132. Simone is an insisting collector on items that start out at $100. I noticed that many times she was being bid against by bidder 5461 who never won the item but always took her to one or two bids below her maximum. In this way, she paid huge ridiculous amounts for items because Eaton knew what she would be willing to pay for any given item because of the maximum bids she already placed on the item that he could see on his computer screen. He knowingly and amusedly took advantage of her “addiction” for especially desired items—almost as a sport. At some point I checked on who the “counter” bidder was in these bidding wars with my “client” Simone and realized that it was not an actual person or persons, but rather an account kept by R&R to bid in its own auctions. At the time bidder 5461 had a name: O. Wright from Kitty Hawk.”
Burris claims that RR sold a large number of fake items alleged to have been signed by famous artists like Pissarro (left). According to Burris, many fake Pissarro prints were consigned to RR by attorney Danny Brams (right).
Burris’ affidavit also deals with issues of authenticity and alleges that RR and Eaton at times knowingly sold non-genuine autographed items including an Elvis Presley signed guitar, a Beatles album and a large group of material consigned by attorney Danny Brams from Florida:
“R&R has sold numerous (more than 100) items purportedly signed by Chagall, Miro, Picasso and Dali. Most of these were consigned by Dan Brams dba as Paper Treasures. They came to my attention originally when I fielded questions about them from bidders concerned about their authenticity. A number of these were returned to R&R when subsequent review by art experts confirmed their non-authenticity. Bob Eaton and I had a conversation about not taking these items anymore and while he agreed that they were problems with these items, that Dan Brams had an explanation for them so we would continue to list them. Among these items, as an example, R&R sold a Pissaro Item 377, Catalog 269, selling price $5,850, which was recently returned by the purchaser after it had been examined by the Pissaro Institute and determined to be non-authentic. R&R has sold 100s of these prints/book photos and has issued refunds on all that have been returned. However, there are still dozens of these in the hands of R&R winning bidders and the potential loss for the continued refunds would be in the $100,000’s.”
Sources indicate that several FBI agents have received copies of the Burris’ statement and according to one hobbyist familiar with the RR lawsuit the FBI has shown an interest in the case and in the recent news that former Mastro Auctions IT director William Boehm also worked for RR. Boehm, who plead guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents after destroying Mastro bidding records, was scheduled to be sentenced in Chicago Federal Court earlier this month but sources say sentencing has been postponed until at least June.
UPDATE (Sat. March 14, 2015): Johnson Motion For Class Certification Denied But Press Release Reveals New Action Against RR Related To Shill-Bidding
In Santa Barbara Superior Court yesterday, Judge Donna Geck denied a motion for the certification of Michael Johnson’s proposed class action on behalf of California consumers who purchased bogus items from R&R Auction in New Hampshire. Last night, the RR Auction Lawsuit website posted a press release in response to the decision which stated:
“The Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Johnson’s claims, but instead, determined that the case could not procedurally be tried as a class action because of individualized issues involving autographed items purchased by the members of the proposed class. Essentially, the Court ruled that anyone that was sold forged items during 2008-2012 would have the ability to pursue their own individual claims against R&R. In addition to the ability for others to now pursue their own cases against R&R Auction for the purchase of inauthentic items, the Burris evidence demonstrates that another class action or suit in State or Federal Courts may be filed against R&R for shill bidding.”
According to sources familiar with class action certifications the denial of the motion did not relate specifically to the sheer numbers of alleged victims in the class but the fact that RR customers had claims for different items with different sales prices and damage amounts. The ruling opens the door for many individual suits against RR to be filed in the near future. Johnson’s attorneys at Christman, Kelley & Clarke. say they will continue their litigation against RR for the sale of bogus autographed memorabilia and, according to the press release, will include new claims ”recently discovered from a former R&R employee that R&R Auction engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud its customers by engaging in “shill bidding” through conspiring with others to bid on memorabilia it auctions on its website with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability.” The basis for Johnson’s new claims is identified in the press release as being “a copy of a signed and notarized affidavit from Karen Burris, a former RR Auction employee who passed away shortly after executing the affidavit. Ms. Burris’ sworn affidavit implicates R&R Auction in a variety of illegal activities, including shill bidding and the knowing sale of forged memorabilia to its customers.”
The press release also indicates that Mr. Johnson’s attorney will “amend his complaint to assert these additional violations of consumer protection laws.” Those laws prohibit the sale of bogus autographed memorabilia, and provide for the recovery of damages and penalties which could equal 10 times actual damages. Johnson’s attorneys state that based upon his “estimated actual damages of $130,000″ Johnson will seek “a civil penalty of at least $1.3 million.” In the press release Matthew Clarke of Christman Kelley & Clarke said, “This is another step in the right direction of ultimately making Mr. Johnson whole and holding R&R Auction accountable for its fraudulent and deceptive business practices.”
RR Auction did not publish a press release on the company website but Steve Cyrkin of Autograph Magazine Live published a post claiming that he received a press release from RR which stated:
“Lawyers for Michael Johnson, the son of an oil industry tycoon, effectively admitted defeat today in Santa Barbara County Superior Court after Judge Donna Geck issued a tentative ruling denying Johnson’s motion for class action certification in a lawsuit filed in October 2012 in which Johnson alleged that $84,000 in autographed items he’d purchased through R&R were later found to be inauthentic.”
Cyrkin’s post of the RR release also stated:
“In what R&R’s attorney’s predict will be a fatal blow to Johnson’s suit, now on its second set of lawyers, Judge Geck issued a six-page tentative ruling Wednesday denying class action status to the case “Because of the findings that the
class is not ascertainable, the class is not numerous and individual issues predominate over common issues.”
Hauls of Shame will continue post any new information about the case as it becomes available.
(Editor’s Note: Amherst Police Chief Mark Reams states that he had no knowledge of details related to the 2008 settlement between the Burris family, Karen Burris’ estate and RR Auction. Reams called Hauls of Shame to clarify what he said and noted that the only details he was aware of were published in New Hampshire newspapers.)
27 Comments »
the part you left out is that Kay Burris had embezzeled upward to $450,000.00 dollars in her trusted role and the halls of justice were closing in.
What part(s) of her affidavit are factual is anyone’s guess. Needless to say the fall out will be damming regardless of truth.
Comment by db — March 13, 2015 @ 6:11 am
It’s hard to believe Mastro & co are the only guys who busted for shill bidding. This is nuts.
Comment by Chris A — March 13, 2015 @ 6:46 am
I bought dozens of autographed photos from R&R in the 80’s and 90’s. Do I have any recourse?
Comment by Ken Hicks — March 13, 2015 @ 9:55 am
Hey there DB, she was ACCUSED of embezzling $111,000, NOT 450,000.00
And a affidavit is a sworn statement, sworn to be the truth. We all know you want to spin things in a positive light for RR no matter what, but nothing that is coming out about them is positive, and it shows just how corrupt this business has been for the better part of 2 decades!
Don’t let the truth get in the way of things as you look through rose colored glasses with blinders on…
Comment by T-Bone Tommy — March 13, 2015 @ 10:56 am
Let’s say for arguments sake she embezzled 10 bucks or ten million. Does that mean that RRs bidding was on the level and she just fabricated those details? Are we to just overlook the RR-PSA-Mastro pedigree? Some people are so gullible.
Comment by Chris A — March 13, 2015 @ 12:44 pm
Can o’ worms!
Ya’ll better get right!
The eyes of the Almighty are upon us!
I know many doctors, persons who worked for the medecial examiners office and emergency room nurses. Most will tell you that it is RARE for a woman to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head with a gun. Men do that! Women either cut their wrists or overdose. Did Burris even own a gun? After reading the affidavit signed by Burris which in many places states what most of the hobby already knew for years, sounds like the Burris so-called suicide case needs to be re-opened.
Comment by Steve Koschal — March 13, 2015 @ 1:18 pm
apparently, the gullable are those who take reports like this from someone who is about to be arrested as if it were 100% factual. & “T-Bone” that was a internal assessed guesstamite amount. When real auditor CPAs started looking they identified $456,000 as a preliminary number and felt due to the nature and depth of the fraud to fully find more. But don’t let facts get in your way.
Is any of this factual or is it someone trying dodge an arrest? If any of it is factual, and we may never know, odd how it came out all of a sudden after she was fired and facing an eminent arrest warrant.
Comment by db — March 13, 2015 @ 1:34 pm
Like I said, her alleged embezzlement impacts RRs business. Shill bidding impacts collectors and the hobby, I could give two shits about RRs balance sheet. If anyone thinks RR and the majority of the AHs havn’t been shilling innocent customers you’re a lost cause. My bet is RR should be more concerned with what the FBI is going to find.
Comment by Chris A — March 13, 2015 @ 2:08 pm
Where there’s a shill there’s a way…Bill Mastro and Bob Eaton
Comment by Paul Dean — March 13, 2015 @ 2:12 pm
Once again DB, you are stating things not in evidence and with no proof. The court report and newspaper both say, 111 K not the 456K that you keep pressing. Also, where is the “eminent arrest warrant”? proof? There is none? How do we know if Eaton didn’t trump all this up and make it look like she did the stuff? We don’t. We can only go by what is written in both her SWORN statement, and what the newspaper article says.
I agree that they should re-look at the death. I would like to know how close the gun was to her head? Did she own a gun? Was it possible for her to be shot at the angle that the bullet went into her head? Was there a note left behind? It’s also very very rare that a woman would chose this way to kill herself. 1 out of every 15,000 are reported. Nothing adds up when you look at all of this, nothing!
Comment by John Smith — March 13, 2015 @ 2:14 pm
Oh snap…RR shilled me like that. No worries, I’m addicted to this stuff. When is your next auction, can’t wait.
Comment by Simone — March 13, 2015 @ 2:29 pm
Oh, my. Not good for anyone, anywhere.
Comment by Bill Panagopulos — March 13, 2015 @ 2:41 pm
Class Action certification motion by the planfiff was denied by the court.
@John Smith; I’d have a discussion with you about evidence -vs- discovery but it would be a waste of my time.
Comment by db — March 13, 2015 @ 4:24 pm
PRESS RELEASE MARCH 13, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Santa Barbara, CA | March 13, 2015
Michael Johnson filed a class action lawsuit against R&R Auction Company, LLC, an auction house that sells autographed memorabilia, alleging violations of California’s consumer protection laws. Mr. Johnson alleges in his lawsuit that R&R Auction conducted bait-and-switch marketing by claiming, “Each autographed item [sold] is accompanied by a full 100% lifetime guarantee of authenticity.” R&R Auction backed this guarantee with an explicit offer to refund the full purchase price of any autographed item that was later determined to be inauthentic. R&R Auction marketed this guarantee in its marketing materials, written publications, website, and self-generated certificates of authenticity that accompanied every signed item that it sold to California consumers, including Mr. Johnson. However, Mr. Johnson discovered that R&R Auction never really confirmed the authenticity of signed memorabilia it sold and further refused to honor its advertised refund policy.
Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit alleges that he purchased over $130,000 in signed memorabilia from R&R Auction between 2008 and 2012. However, he later discovered that all of the signed items he purchased were forgeries, after having them reevaluated by an independent autograph authentication company. When he attempted to obtain a refund from R&R Auction, the company simply refused to honor it’s advertised “lifetime guarantee of authenticity.” Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit alleges violations of California’s consumer protection laws, including the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, on behalf of himself and all other customers residing in California who fell victim to R&R Auction’s fraudulent practices.
On March 13, 2015, the Santa Barbara Superior Court denied certification of Mr. Johnson’s proposed class of California consumers who purchased forged memorabilia from R&R Auction. The Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Johnson’s claims, but instead, determined that the case could not procedurally be tried as a class action because of individualized issues involving autographed items purchased by the members of the proposed class. Essentially, the Court ruled that anyone that was sold forged items during 2008-2012 would have the ability to pursue their own individual claims against R&R. In addition to the ability for others to now pursue their own cases against R&R Auction for the purchase of inauthentic items, the Burris evidence demonstrates that another class action or suit in State or Federal Courts may be filed against R&R for shill bidding.
In spite of the Court’s ruling on class certification, Mr. Johnson and his attorneys, Christman, Kelley & Clarke, PC, are moving forward with Mr. Johnson’s lawsuit against R&R Auction. In addition to Mr. Johnson’s claims that R&R Auction sold him fake memorabilia, Mr. Johnson recently discovered from a former R&R employee that R&R Auction engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud its customers by engaging in “shill bidding” through conspiring with others to bid on memorabilia it auctions on its website with the intent to artificially increase its price or desirability. He discovered this after receiving a copy of a signed and notarized affidavit from Karen Burris, a former RR Auction employee who passed away shortly after executing the affidavit. Ms. Burris’ sworn affidavit implicates R&R Auction in a variety of illegal activities, including shill bidding and the knowing sale of forged memorabilia to its customers.
Mr. Johnson’s attorneys intend to amend his complaint to assert these additional violations of consumer protection laws. This includes potential violations of California Civil Code section 1739.7, which prohibits the sale of fake autographed memorabilia, and provides for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and a civil penalty in an amount equal to 10 times actual damages. With his estimated actual damages of $130,000, Mr. Johnson intends to request a civil penalty of at least $1.3 million. Matthew Clarke of Christman Kelley & Clarke, PC believes that this is another step in the right direction of ultimately making Mr. Johnson whole and holding R&R Auction accountable for its fraudulent and deceptive business practices. END ###
Comment by as seen on TV — March 13, 2015 @ 11:20 pm
Hey Moe, $130,000 is a lot of money, think R&R stand a chance not cutting a check? Listen Curly-Joe, you could buy a lot of apple pie and hamburgers with that loot and it seems they have run out of people preventing it, now go get slabbed.
Comment by Weezer — March 14, 2015 @ 1:01 am
Thank you all concerned. Mrs. Burris’s records and matters were subpoenaed, and have been submitted as required by law. I am sure Kay will have much to say in death than anyone ever realized, or imagined.
There was indeed a settlement offered to, and accepted by her estate and her husband, which was accepted reluctantly by Mr. Burris. Only under the advice of his attorneys, he accepted their offer to save Kay’s children the additional pain and suffering by their mother’s name being dragged through the mud. However, Kay had retained counsel who was going to vigorously defend Kay in both the cirminal and civil actions brought against her. The details of the their settlement agrement are sealed and cannot be disclosed.
However, the Amherst Police did close the criminal investigation of the allegations against Mr. Burris because they found those allegations “without merit”. Only then was the offer of their settlement for the civil actions against Mr. and Mrs. Burris respectively, accepted to close the matter so the Burris family could carry on.
There was NO autopsy of Mrs. Burris conducted by the State’s Medical Examiner nor the Amherst Police Department. Only a Medical Examiner’s Report was filed, which is serioiulsy flawed and which will be made public in due time. This official report will answer many of the questions raised by several on this site. However, the report itself will only raise more questions as to circumstances surrounding Kay’s death and the actions of others.
It should also come as no surprise that I was personally subpoenaed and gave more than six hours of depositions in the Johnson case. This site may be posting the full Medical Examiner’s Report if certain details can be worked out.
Finally, there is one individual posting comments on this site that can only be coming from inside information forbidden for them to have any access to, let alone be desiminating to the public. That individual IS a possible co-conspirator in the civil, and now criminal, investigations being conducted against the prinicipals metioned in all this activity. It is this individual, and other principals being investigated, hiding annonymously in these sites so they can throw their grenades of false innuendos and fabrications to obfuscate the facts. Nonetheless, the “truth” genie has been released from the bottle.
Thank you all for your kind words about Kay Burris and for us, her family.
Comment by William Burris — March 14, 2015 @ 2:56 am
This situation is rapidly devolving into about the ugliest spectacle we’ve seen in 20 years. Never mind forgery scandals, theft, and the pervasive backstabbing we’ve seen of late…they pale in comparison
to the undercurrent of accusations I hear of late…
I am a direct RR competitor but do not revel in this show-down. I pray that calm heads will prevail and that his dispute will be tried in the courts where it belongs versus on forums. There’s a lot at stake.
Comment by Bill Panagopulos — March 14, 2015 @ 11:14 pm
To bad HOS does not look into all the house schilling bids going on ebay dealers…….
Comment by Richard Morgan — March 14, 2015 @ 11:30 pm
I simply assume I am being shilled when I bid in auctions. Sad but true. I still think forgeries are a million times worse. There isn’t enough time in a day for HOS to tackle the disgusting world of ebay and how little they care about the consumers. It is so much easier to do nothing then something which is kind of how this hobby works since everyone appears to be dirty. Great article as always. Sickening, but great HOS!
Comment by Jared — March 15, 2015 @ 2:32 pm
Probably 20%, the rest keep to not unleash.
Comment by Weezer — March 15, 2015 @ 3:07 pm
“I simply assume I am being shilled when I bid in auctions…”
Guys, take it from an auctioneer who has been in the business for over 25 years and has sold a LOT of material…the vast majority of auctioneers don’t need to take bids from Cousin Vinny in order to make money. If a large enough market is reached, auctions should realize the actual value of the item offered for sale.
If consignors are worried that material will be “given away”, they reserve it. Then, the auctioneer and consignor battle over the reserve – the lower the better for the auctioneer, obviously.
But what if the bidder doesn’t trust the auctioneer? Or the process? That hasn’t always been the case, but with eBay sniping, the Mastro debacle, etc. bidders are shy, to say the least.
I sell largely military autographs and militaria now, so I have no dog in this fight. But here are a few end runs to make the potential bidder feel more at ease. Bear in mind I am NOT casting aspersions on anyone or suggesting anything. I just think bidders should be informed and I’ve been passing this advice out for years:
1.) Try to bid in live, in-person auctions. There are plenty of up front internet-only auctions, but logically they are not as transparent as “live” auctions.
2.) Bid by phone, or pay a few more points and bid by a proxy bidding site such as liveauctioneers.com or invaluable.com. Those sites do not submit bids to the auction house until the lot comes to the block.
3.) Know the maximum you want to bid for an item BEFORE you get caught up in “auction fever”. If you MUST leave absentee bids, leave only the most you’re willing to happily pay. If an auction house consistently charges you the top amount of every “left” bid, odds are something’s wrong.
4.) READ THE TERMS! If you bid and then buy something that’s bad, and get stuck with it because you didn’t read the terms…well, it’s your own fault. Some auctions offer guarantees, some don’t. As for third party authenticators, my position is well known.
I hope this damned case gets settled soon. The autograph business used to be fun…now it’s sh_t.
Comment by Bill Panagopulos — March 15, 2015 @ 8:34 pm
1.3 million. Sounds like servers will be all over the place. Think Mastro will be in same haul of shame wing with Gene Gotti?
Comment by Weezer — March 15, 2015 @ 11:57 pm
“Guys, take it from an auctioneer who has been in the business for over 25 years and has sold a LOT of material…the vast majority of auctioneers don’t need to take bids from Cousin Vinny in order to make money.
…..but they do anyways.
Comment by suicide_squeeze — March 16, 2015 @ 6:22 pm
Sounds like a Long Island town commissioner talking about concrete and carting contracts, trust me, they take the bids from Vinny. Mastro must be loving this, the hobby weight is off his shoulders for awhile. The coach is in on the bench and soon to be out of his corner.
Comment by Weezer — March 16, 2015 @ 10:31 pm
Here is a website we created for the information we want out. Go there and look at everything.
Highly descriptive article, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?
Comment by Grace — April 15, 2015 @ 7:31 am