Friday, May 15, 2009

ALERT - Forged Brett Favre Gamers

Chris Nerat, of Titletown Nostalgia and the related Collect Green Bay blog, recently posted an article he wrote last year for Sports Collectors Digest. It should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in game-worn Packers jerseys, let alone anybody even thinking about purchasing one.

In short, Chris details the story of Steve Towes, a collector who learned that two of the Brett Favre gamers he owned were forgeries. And not even very good ones. He didn't vet the jerseys very thoroughly, because they came from what he considered an impeccable source - Rick Radke, owner of Radke Sports and, the official supplier of Favre-signed memorabilia.

Not only was the source itself seemingly beyond question, but the jerseys he bought came with plenty of documentation proudly proclaiming their authenticity:

Towes assumed the authenticity of the jerseys was as solid as possible. Both pieces had Favre’s personal authenticity holograms affixed to the tackle twill numerals, Favre’s signature neatly scribed on each jersey’s back No. 4, and inscriptions written in black felt-tip marker assuring the potential buyer that they were “Game Used” — a hobby term that is music to serious collectors’ ears.

In addition, each jersey was accompanied by a “Letter from the Desk of Brett Favre,” which was also signed by the three-time NFL Most Valuable Player, stating that both were used during game play by the Green Bay quarterback. And, each came with a picture of Favre with the jersey.

After payments to Radtke that totalled $13,000, Towes became the owner of both showpieces, which he displayed in his Wausau, Wis., home.

Towes eventually became suspicious, had his jerseys looked at by an authority, who declared them forgeries, intended to deceive.

To his credit, when alerted Radke took back the fakes and refunded Towes' money. Perhaps Radke was himself another victim of the scam.

Now, I'm usually pretty wary about Certificates of Authenticity and all that, given that they rest solely on the credibility of whoever signed them. And most auction houses appear to be more interested in collecting the Buyer's Premium than protecting their reputations. But if I bought from Favre's official supplier directly, I suspect that I'd be comfortable enough to let my guard down.

You have to read this story for yourself.

Click here to read the article (PDF)

It's actually a follow-up to an earlier article Nerat wrote for SCD, which is available on their website.

This is really scary stuff - if I ever did have the money to buy a Favre gamer, I would have bought it through without question.

Along a similar line, I once had a brush with forged Favre jerseys myself.

Remember - Caveat emptor, now and forever. Trust, but Verify. Whatever cliché you want to use, it's good advice.

I hope Nerat, who no longer writes for SCD, is able to do another follow-up. I'd love to learn more about who was behind the scam.

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