Before you send in your Topps cards to be graded by Beckett Grading Services (BGS), you might want to check with Topps first.
Collector David Bach got lucky one day when opening a box of 2017 Bowman Chrome Draft. Inside, he found two 2017 Bowman Chrome refractor Aaron Judge cards and a 2017 Kris Bryant Finest Finishes card. These cards were not supposed to be in a 2017 Bowman Draft Box. All three cards were supposed to be signed and serial numbered, but were left blank.
Bach contacted Topps and he got the standard company line. “We’re not sure, we’ll look into it.”
Not waiting around, Bach sent the cards into BGS to get graded. He was surprised to find out that BGS returned the cards in January 2018 as “Service Unavailable.” Stating in writing that Topps has asked us not to grade these cards.
BGS, in an effort to save some manhood did release a statement, denying Topps asked them to not grade the cards. Why didn’t they then tell Bach they would now grade the cards?
Former UCLA and Dallas Cowboys star Troy Aikman says a jersey sold by Heritage Auctions is not authentic.
On November 18, 2017 someone paid $7,800 for a jersey Heritage Auctions claims Aikman wore during the Aloha Bowl (YouTube) on Christmas day 1987.
Aikman weighed in on Twitter.
Unless I’m the one selling it, none of my memorabilia being auctioned is authentic. End of story. https://t.co/JhPV0lYG3L
— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) November 18, 2017
In the sleazy world of auction houses, authentication “experts” and memorabilia dealers, an athlete’s word is never the end of story.
Heritage Auctions doubled down on their claim the jersey was real.
Heritage Sports stands behind every item that we sell. This jersey has been authenticated by the most trusted third party authentication service, MEARS, as well as our internal experts. We are looking into Troy’s claim, however we believe the jersey to be 100% authentic.
— Heritage Sports (@Heritage_Sport) November 19, 2017
The auction title states the jersey comes “with photo reference.”
It’s unclear what photos they are referring to.
Heritage has sold items that turned out to be misrepresented and even not authentic in the past.
In 2012, then President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, issued a statement asking Heritage Auctions to take down an auction for a dinosaur skeleton. Tsakhia claimed the bones were smuggled illegally from Mongolia.
Heritage Auctions ignored the requests from President Tsakhia and the dinosaur bones sold on May 20, 2012 for $1.05 million.
By June 2012, the United States government seized the skeleton.
Add insult to injury, Heritage Auctions advertised the bones as a nearly complete individual dinosaur. Turns out it came from several different dinosaurs.
Two auctions were pulled down in 2013 after a memorabilia blogger called out Heritage Auctions for listing a baseball supposedly signed by Lou Gehrig in the 1930s and another supposedly used to make the final out in the 1917 World Series.
Both balls were manufactured years after Heritage Auctions claims.
In 2011, Heritage Auctions listed a letter signed by boxer Thomas Sayers. It was authenticated by both JSA and PSA. Boxing experts were quick to point out that Sayers was nearly illiterate.
The auction listing was changed, stating that PSA and JSA both believed it to be genuine but could no longer offer certificates “due to a lack of exemplars.” It sold for $10,755.
Sports Card Radio’s most trusted third party to find out about a company is Glassdoor.
Instead of customer reviews, they’re reviews from employees.
Here are a few for Heritage Auctions.
Next time you open a Beckett Magazine it might look different. Magazine editors who worked remotely were abruptly let go in October.
Baseball editor Dave Sliepka, Football editor David Lee, and Hockey, Basketball & Sports Card Monthly editor Stephen Laroche were all relieved of editor work.
Laroche is well known for co-writing the popular Got 'Em, Got 'Em, Need 'Em book.
There is a chance those impacted might continue a freelance role with the company, perhaps writing articles for future Beckett publications.
News of the staff shake up broke on the Hobby Insider Forum (must be a member to read).
Sources to Sports Card Radio suggest Beckett might go with one in house editor starting in 2018.
Former owner James Beckett began publishing Beckett Baseball Card Monthly in 1984. He cashed out of the business in 2006 and reportedly purchased a $10 million Dallas home that was promptly paid off in 8 months.
Current owners, Eli Equity LLC, purchased Beckett in 2008 from Spectrum Media LLC.
In 2012, Eli Equity sued Global Leveraged Capital Advisors LLC, a firm that loaned money to Beckett's previous owners and aided in the 2008 sale.
Eli Equity alleged GLC Adviors cooked the books in favor of Beckett Media, hiding the company’s financial problems to spur a quick deal.
The case was settled out of court in 2013.
Company President, Sandeep Dua, was accused in a 2015 lawsuit to have severely mistreated employees.
Former Beckett employee, Rodney Alsup provided the court with stunning claims that Dua repeatedly crossed an ethical and legal line.
Here are a few excerpts from the 2015 suit:
Mr. Dua's management style is to intimidate, embarrass and "ride" employees constantly stressing that only "A" players are allowed on the bus and “C” players (including those with disabilities) are moved off the bus.
In 2014, for instance, Mr. Dua threw presentations at Rodney in Cleveland, Ohio and made him leave a meeting room in front of other Beckett employees.
Mr. Dua's non-stop bullying and unethical conduct caused Rodney to suffer a mental breakdown on August 27, 2014.
Alsup's medical records, including doctors findings and diagnosis, were (oddly) provided to Mr. Dua and other Beckett employees.
A former Beckett manager, Mark Anderson, has previously filed a charge against Mr. Dua for similar conduct.
At least one other current (as of 2015) member of Beckett's management team has been hospitalized for depression due to Mr. Dau's threats and humiliation.
Beckett's main source of revenue is its grading division. Grading rival PSA authenticated or graded 1.4 million cards in its fiscal year 2017. Beckett probably grades a similar number of cards.
The magazine appears safe to continue. Perhaps I will send a "Readers Write" question to Sandeep!
Damian Lillard is a superstar in the NBA. He has over 1.4 million followers on Twitter, where he regularly interacts with fans via the social media platform.
Recently fans were sending Lillard links of items for sale on eBay – asking the NBA superstar if the signatures were real or fake.
In the tweet below, an eBay listing was shown to Lillard – to which he replied “Fake Signature”
The tweet Lillard replies to is “unavailable” because the seller of the item deleted the tweet. However here is a screen shot of the the tweet the seller, Joel Alpert of A_A_Autographs, deleted:
If Lillard giving his opinion on his own signature one time wasn’t enough – a fan asked Lillard a second time if the above pictured autograph was real. To which Lillard replied “That ain’t my signature”
Lillard looked at the autograph for sale on eBay not once – but twice, and told his 1.4 million followers the autograph was fake.
You’d think that would close the book on the story, as an educated, highly successful young man in the prime of his life could easily tell his signature from a fake.
But not in the sleazy, slimy and often fraudulent mind of sports autograph “authenticators”
After Damian Lillard said the autograph was fake – twice – Beckett Authentication Services (BAS) had the audacity to ask Lillard to look at the autograph A THIRD TIME. Beckett’s rational was comparing Lillard’s signature to 5 examples anyone could have found searching Google.
Beckett provided no further evidence Lillard signed the item in question. No video of Lillard signing the item, no document related to why Beckett certified the autograph in question to begin with. No evidence the authentication sticker applied to the item wasn’t tampered with or fake. Beckett provided no evidence the 5 signatures they used to show Lillard were in fact authentic either.
To Lillard’s credit, he did not respond to the sleazy autograph authenticator asking him to look at his own signature a third time.
But the story doesn’t end. Leaf Trading Cards decided to also claim Lillard can’t look twice at his own signature and tell fans if it’s real or fake.
Leaf’s claim is Lillard can look at his autograph twice and be mistaken, but Leaf can be certain because they saw Lillard sign 5 years ago when they had him under contract?
Unfortunately the sleazy nature of these autograph “authenticators” doesn’t end there. Leaf Trading cards starting making the false accusation that Damian Lillard had deleted the two tweets saying the autograph was fake.
Here’s one tweet from Leaf saying Lillard deleted his tweet – but in fact Lillard’s tweet is visible for everyone to see – meaning it was not deleted.
Leaf can’t even read Lillard’s tweets, yet can be certain they know Lillard’s signature better than himself??
Here are more examples of Leaf spreading #FakeNews about Lillard deleting tweets in an effort to make the company (and Beckett) look good.
Again, Leaf tweeted THREE TIMES Lillard deleted tweets – which was a bold face lie. Yet we’re supposed to believe Leaf can authenticate Lillard’s signature better than he can???
Not to be outdone Beckett Authentication Services re-tweeted #FakeNews about Lillard deleting his tweets in an effort to make the company look good.
Four examples of a bold face lie by these “authenticators” in an effort to discredit & spread #FakeNews about Damian Lillard. The only person deserving of an apology is Lillard – as Leaf & Beckett tried to lie about him deleting tweets in an effort to make their sleazy autograph businesses seem more legit.
There’s a reason why the autograph “authentication” business has a sleazy reputation. Blatantly lying to an athlete & customers isn’t going to improve this stigma anytime soon.
Sports Card Radio received and e-mail from the fake Damian Lillard autograph seller Joel Alpert of A_A_Autographs:
It’s odd an autograph dealer could be chummy enough with his authenticator (Steve Grad of Beckett) that he could offer him up to come on a podcast! I wonder how closely Beckett is looking at this dealers autographs if that’s the case.
Another day, another group breaker accused of scamming. Hobby store Curveball Sports Cards, Gaming and Collectibles in Michigan is accused of swapping out cards during a group break.
Collectors began blowing up Curveball's Facebook and Twitter pages and subsequently shop owner Mike Wilson deleted some social media accounts associated with the business.
See if you can spot if he switched cards out for yourself!
Wilson did post a message on his personal account claiming his innocence.
We called a business phone number associated with Curveball Sports Cards and left a message.
Wilson or anyone else associated with Curveball Sports Cards is invited to share their story on the R-Rated Podcast.
Curveball Sports Cards is not the only group breaker who has been involed with controversy. DnT Sports Cards was caught swapping out cards during a break in May 2017.
Group Breakers have little to no barrier of entry and oversight. Card companies like Topps are more concerned with kicking dealers off Amazon than protecting customers in a break.
Here is a write up about Curveball Sports Cards from a local newspaper.
More updates to follow as story develops.