Oh Brouthers! More Alleged Fakes & Frauds Flood The Hobby Courtesy Of Barry Halper, Rob Lifson, Jimmy Spence, SCP, Heritage, PSA/DNA & Coaches Corner
By Peter J. Nash
May 17, 2013
Rob Lifson includes a 1999 thank you letter from fraudster Barry Halper in his Spring catalog.
The Spring auction season is upon us and the catalogs from the likes of Heritage, SCP and REA have already made their way to the doorsteps of collectors all around the country.
In Dave Kohler’s SCP catalog collectors got a look at Reggie Jackson’s million-dollar jersey from the night he became Mr. October hitting three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. They also got a peek at an alleged signed photo of the 1927 Yankees with an LOA from the family of George Pipgras. But the pinstripes on Jackson’s jersey were a dead giveaway that the jersey was not the genuine article and several experts we spoke with are of the opinion that the 1927 signed photo of the Bronx Bombers is a forgery. An alleged forgery that SCP sold for close to $300,000. SCP and Kohler ended up pulling the Jackson jersey from the sale.
Chris Ivy and Heritage Auction Galleries sold a Lou Gehrig ball that we reported was likely a forgery for close to $70,000 and an alleged 1935 Babe Ruth Yankee uniform that originated from the infamous Barry Halper Collection for close to $300,000. Heritage changed its original catalog lot description online and removed all reference to Halper’s name due to the recent documentation of scores of uniform forgeries in his collection . That ploy worked well for their consignor who originally bought the jersey from Halper at Sotheby’s for $79,500.
The first copy of Robert Edward Auctions’ catalog went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in what REA President Rob Lifson calls, “an annual tradition.” This despite the fact that one ex-Hall official has confirmed that Lifson was banned from the Hall’s National Baseball Library with his name appearing on an internal watch-list containing the names of known institutional thieves.
Lifson was apprehended stealing rare CDV photographs from the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection in 1979 and has been linked to the sales of numerous stolen artifacts that once belonged to his former mentor, the deceased New York Yankee partner and collector, Barry Halper. It is Halper who has been identified by a source prominent in baseball circles as the self-admitted mastermind behind the multi-million dollar heist from the library.
When the Hall of Fame opens up their complimentary copy of the 2013 REA catalog they can view the inside cover and read the 1999 thank you letter that Halper sent to Lifson describing the “spectacular job” he did serving as the special consultant for the Sotheby’s auction of his collection in 1999. Halper notes Lifson’s “unparalleled knowledge, judgment, experience,” and “integrity” in the letter from the man described as a “Friend of Robert Edward Auctions.”
The Hall of Fame is all-too-familiar with Barry Halper and his once celebrated collection having been victimized to the tune of several million dollars after purchasing counterfeit and misrepresented artifacts from him in 1998 including fakes attributed to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Mickey Mantle and other baseball legends. One would think Lifson’s inclusion of Halper’s letter would raise a few eyebrows in Cooperstown considering the Hall has removed the “Barry Halper Gallery” space from the museum after the magnitude of frauds perpetrated by him were uncovered and exposed by Haulsofshame.com in 2010 and 2011.
Hobbyists and fellow auctioneers are baffled by Lifson’s inclusion of the Halper letter in the catalog and one prominent collector told Hauls of Shame, “It’s the giant white elephant in the room. I think he’s in serious denial.”
While Lifson includes the letter of praise from Halper in the catalog, he is not as quick to reveal a Halper provenance on items being offered for sale in the current auction. Case in point is Lifson’s offering of what is described as a rare single-signed baseball of 19th century Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers. Nowhere in the lot description does Lifson mention that the baseball originated from the Halper Collection and that he actually sold the ball for Halper in the early 1990s for close to $20,000.
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