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Your Prized Authentic Beatles Autograph Is Probably Very Fake

Elvis Presley the Beatles Autographs Forged

With the 50-year anniversary mark of “I Want to Hold You Hand” fast approaching, the remaining Beatles might want to consider adding a verse that makes the title’s tone more menacing than cute. As BBC News reports, forgers’ hands have been quite busy imitating the autographs of John, Paul, George, and Ringo over the years. In fact, the Beatles have the second-most faked John Hancocks in the entertainment game, according to a recently released report from memorabilia authenticator PSA/DNA.

The SoCal company claims to have reviewed more than 350,000 signatures over the past 12 months, and has compiled the 10 “most dangerous autographs” in entertainment (there’s a separate list for sports) in order to shed light on a widespread problem and, more likely, remind the world why their very specific services are necessary. They say that it’s not uncommon for more than half of submissions from popular names to wind up in the rejection pile thanks largely to “unscrupulous individuals.”

So which other musicians are on the list, and what kind of cash are we talking about here? Elvis Presley had the No. 1 most forged signature in 2012, while a genuine can be worth anywhere from $1,500 (“cut,” meaning a standalone signature) to $35,000 (a contract or letter). Something signed by all of the Fab Four can fetch anywhere from $5,000 (cut) to $75,000 (they’ve even signed baseballs). After Neil Armstrong and JFK, Michael Jackson comes in at No. 5 with a value of $300 well into the five-figure range (lyrics).

Following Marilyn Monroe, the Doors’ Jim Morrison has the seventh most dangerous autograph of 2012. The real thing has a range of $1,500 to $5,000. Fellow 27 Club member Jimi Hendrix is in at No. 8 with a sig worth anywhere from $2,500 to $200,000 (a 1965 contract sold in 2009). Walt Disney and Judy Garland close out the list with a honorable mention nod tossed out to Clint Eastwood. It should be noted that the autograph of Eastwood’s sparring partner, Invisible Obama, is absolutely priceless.

As the BBC points out, many older forgeries in entertainment were not done in malice, but by record labels and talent agencies satisfying the requests of young fans who rote in requesting the signatures of their favorite stars. As explained by Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment and music memorabilia at Heritage Auctions in Los Angeles, “A lot of times people stumble upon an old box of signed photographs in grandma’s attic and don’t know they’re forged.” So it’s Granny you’ve got to watch out for.