AB 1570 helps ensure fans purchase only authentic memorabilia
By Chris Wangsaporn
Sacramento – Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) announced her AB 1570 passed out of the Assembly Privacy & Consumer Protection Committee. Mark Hamill – also known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars – has been a strong advocate for the bill. In some memorabilia markets, forged signatures make up over half of the supply – making it all too easy for consumers to be defrauded. AB1570 will put safeguards in place as well as provide civil recourse for buyers of autographs.
“I was astonished to learn how big the market is for fake memorabilia,” said Assemblywoman Chang. “And when you have kids falling victim to dealers selling sham autographs, that’s what really makes me angry. I’ve teamed up with artists like Mark Hamill, but also law enforcement and consumer advocacy groups to make sure we have protections in place.”
AB 1570 will require dealers of any signed memorabilia to provide a certificate of authenticity upon sale of the autograph. The bill will also provide victims of forged memorabilia with civil recourse including ten times the amount of actual damages. Current law already protects consumers in the narrow case of sports related memorabilia.
In a letter of support for AB 1570: Mark Hamill writes: “I cherish the fans who have given me their support for decades. I will do anything I can to protect them from predatory and fraudulent dealers and AB 1570 has my unqualified support.”
In fact, Star Wars icon Mark Hamill recently took to Twitter to tell fans which of their signed collectibles were forged and which were genuine.
PSA/DNA, JSA, and other professional authenticators evaluate hundreds of thousands of autographs annually worldwide, and often determine the signatures to be forged. According to industry experts, the rejection rate can reach over 50% of submitted items for the more prominent names, including Neil Armstrong, Michael Jackson, and others. For example, experts estimate that only 94 percent of all autographed Beatles memorabilia is forged, as are 76 percent of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley collectibles.
In the last twenty years, the FBI instituted two major investigations uncovering millions in forged sports, entertainment and historical autographed memorabilia – both cases involved operations in California. During the most recent investigation, the FBI estimated forged memorabilia “comprises between $500,000,000 and $900,000,000” of the overall billion dollar market.