Bogus Autographs. Forgeries. Fraud. These are terms in the hobby that really get my dander up. But when people in trusted positions of power turn a blind eye to expert opinion and defraud unsuspecting fans and collectors anyway, well, that is a whole other level of scumbug.
Meet Bergen County, New Jersey prosecutor, John Molinelli. After seizing dozens of sports memorabilia items from a felon to secure restitution as part of the criminal's sentencing, Molinelli had the collection examined by Robert Lifson of Robert Edward Auctions. Upon examination, he determined that the majority of the items "were garbage" and had "no value". He attested to this in court documents that went ignored by Molinelli.
Molinelli, left holding the bag, needed to find someone to authenticate the bogus material prior to the county's public auction. Enter Drew Max. You might remember Mr. Max from the TV show Pawn Stars, before store owner and Rick Harrison and the show's producers obviously received an education about Max's less than reputable standing in the hobby. How bad is it? None of the major auction houses, SCP, Lelands, Heritage, etc. will accept any Drew Max authenticated item in their auctions.
Molinelli paid Max, $10K, that's $10,000 to authenticate the bogus material. Obviously for that kind of payday, a man who has been pushed to the fringe of the industry would authenticate just about anything and that is exactly what he did.
PIX 11 News in New Jersey reported on this particular event. Here is the news segment in its entirety.