Probably Half of Autographs with GAI Stickers Are Forgeries

Posted 5/28/2011 17:54 | Filed under Third Party Authentication

Charles Woodson autographed 16x20

I first started selling my surplus autographs on eBay back in 1997, when I was still just a collector with a full time job. In those days, I had few competitors, and zero concern about competitors selling fakes. But only a year or two later, the autograph market and just about every market on eBay had blown up. It was so lucrative selling autographs on eBay that it attracted forgers by the hundreds and eventually thousands.

For the next several years, eBay became flooded with fakes, dragging down the selling prices of real autographs too. (It's a good thing I launched in 1999, because if I had to depend on eBay for my autograph sales, I'd have been in serious trouble.) For a while, eBay did nothing about the problem. Eventually, they selected companies they called "approved authenticators" including, unfortunately, Global Authenticated Inc. (GAI). This turned out to be a major mistake, as suddenly all sorts of forgeries appeared on eBay featuring GAI authentication.

It's pretty clear that someone at that company was knowingly authenticating fake autographs, in cooperation with unscrupulous eBay autograph dealers. Fake GAI autographs of Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson, LaDainian Tomlinson and David Wright -- just to name four -- were everywhere on eBay. In 2007 I finally decided to make a big stink about this scandal on eBay discussion boards and elsewhere. Guess what, I got blasted and flamed by numerous collectors and dealers, who basically said, "How dare you criticize such an upstanding company" and then proceeded to hurl unfounded accusations at my business, credentials and personal integrity. Of course, in 2011, after the crash and burn of GAI (since replaced by Global Authentics under "new" ownership), I feel fully vindicated. Yes, I told you so. If you didn't listen, too bad.

To those in the know, most GAI "authenticated" autographs are now highly questionable, despite the fact that GAI handled authentication at GTSM, TriStar and other paid signings before their reputation went downhill (the Charles Woodson autographed 16x20 shown here is an example with dual GTSM and GAI stickers), and that GAI gladly authenticated whatever authentic autographs were submitted to them, which only helped them perpetuate the myth that they were a reputable authenticator.

So it's probably accurate to say that roughly half of autographs with GAI stickers are authentic. I have a very good idea of which half, but for those with less expertise, it's probably best to avoid GAI altogether. By the way, after repeated lobbying by myself and others, eBay eventually removed GAI from its listed of approved authenticators, but has yet to list GAI as a banned authenticator. So basically it's buyer beware.