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  Aurora September 2010 auction (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Aurora September 2010 auction
stsmithva
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From: Centreville, VA, USA
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posted 09-17-2010 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I noticed that Aurora Galleries is having an auction on 9/25, featuring about 900 aviation and space program lots.

I had been browsing for a couple of minutes when I noticed Lot 356: "Apollo 1 Chaffee, White and Grissom Autograph on a February 3, 1967 "Life Magazine" profiling the 3 astronauts. Chaffee signed in black ink, White in blue ink and Grissom in black Sharpie. Good condition with toning."

Yes. They were being profiled in that issue because they had died in the Apollo 1 fire the week before.

Usually when I notice a pretty big error or very questionable item in an auction catalog, I try to be helpful and send them an e-mail. I can't in this case, because it would consist solely of "Come ON!" in 144-point type.

mjanovec
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posted 09-18-2010 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know who's dumber...the forger who created this item or the auction rep who approved this for the auction.

This goes to show just how closely the people at Aurora review their items before putting them up for auction.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-18-2010 04:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good effort by the forger, but no cigar

GerryM
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posted 09-19-2010 12:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GerryM   Click Here to Email GerryM     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another major blooper! Check out lot #192. It claims its a photo taken of Gordon Cooper in 2008. Cooper passed away in 2004! From the small image of the photo posted, it looks more like Mickey Rooney than Cooper.

dsenechal
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posted 09-19-2010 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GerryM:
it looks more like Mickey Rooney than Cooper.

Not only doesn't this person remotely look like him, I last saw Gordon Cooper a year or two before he died, and recall him being rather thin and frail in appearance. The gentlemen in the photo may be frail, but he doesn't seem very thin.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-19-2010 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But is does say "Gordo" in the top left photo

dsenechal
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posted 09-19-2010 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dsenechal   Click Here to Email dsenechal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
But is does say "Gordo" in the top left photo
From Wikipedia:
Gordo was one of the first monkeys to travel into space. As part of the NASA space program, Gordo, also known as "Old Reliable", was launched from Cape Canaveral on December 13, 1958 in the U.S. Jupiter AM-13 rocket. The rocket would travel over 1500 miles and reach a height of 310 miles (500 km) before returning to Earth and landing in the South Atlantic. Unfortunately a technical malfunction prevented the capsule's parachute from opening and, despite a short search, neither his body nor the vessel were ever recovered.
I'm guessin' the monkey in the picture is Gordo, while the main subject of the picture is just some guy who had his picture taken in front of pictures of monkeys. Probably sometime in 2008. I'm guessin'...

Bob M
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posted 09-19-2010 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being curious after seeing the Apollo 1 blooper and the "Gordo Monkey" photo, I did some quick browsing of the space lots in the Aurora auction, as it's always interesting to see what's offered by Aurora, keeping in mind their less than stellar reputation. To be fair, they do offer a lot of quality material, but I only briefly checked out some of their autograph material, and it contained the usual good, bad and ugly. Here's my opinion on a few lots:
  • Lot 213A 5 of 7 Mercs: bad
  • Lot 216 Shepard and Grissom signed Mercury flight checklist: very good!
  • Lot 216B Grissom liftoff: very good!
  • Lot 366 Apollo 8 composite: probably bad
  • Lot 391 Armstrong: ugly
  • Lot 396 Armstrong and Collins on newspaper: bad
  • Lot 399 Apollo 11 FDC: bad Aldrin and probably others
  • Lot 494 Apollo 16 cover: ugly
As mentioned, the Apollo 1 is also something to stay away from, but they do have a lot of interesting space hardware and artifacts that should interest plenty of collectors.

steelhead fly fishing
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posted 09-19-2010 07:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for steelhead fly fishing   Click Here to Email steelhead fly fishing     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd appreciate any input or opinions on the following items: 421 (Conrad) and 439 (Roosa). I'm a little wary since some of the items are in question.

Philip
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posted 09-20-2010 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
They were being profiled in that issue because they had died in the Apollo 1 fire the week before.
Memorial services for the AS-204 crewmen were held in Houston 30 January, although their bodies had been flown north from Kennedy for burial. Grissom and Chaffee were buried in Arlington National Cemetery and White at the Military Academy at West Point.

fredtrav
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posted 09-20-2010 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does the heading at the top of lot 216 in red letters DAFT mean you would have to be daft to buy it?

fredtrav
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posted 09-20-2010 03:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry Bob after looking harder yes it is good. What is your thought on 205A?

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-24-2010 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
#356 already has one bid from an educated collector

cosmos-walter
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posted 09-25-2010 04:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cosmos-walter   Click Here to Email cosmos-walter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Russian/Soviet sections contains very bad forgeries. #949 and #950 show that the guy who faked the signatures is not very familiar with Latin handwritings. Lots like #937 and #944 are not flown.

spaceflori
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posted 09-25-2010 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceflori   Click Here to Email spaceflori     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
#356 - 2 bids now : reminds me of Einstein's words:
There are two things that are infinite - the universe and stupidity though I'm not sure on the universe...
Indeed as Walter point out - the amount of Russian forgeries is shocking.

Most of the early signatures have the typical traits of a notorious eBay dealer often discussed here.

stsmithva
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posted 09-25-2010 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceflori:
#356 - 2 bids now

Top bid was $1000. That's $1200 after the premium and shipping. Come ON. I actually did e-mail Aurora before the auction to point out the problem with this lot. They didn't pull it.

Seriously, has there ever been a more blatant astronaut autograph forgery having been offered for sale? There have been lots of terribly done Armstrong forgeries on eBay, but a dishonest seller could argue they were signed in a rush or something. The only way #356 could possibly have been genuine would have been through time travel.

I wonder how the buyer is finally going to realize the problem.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
I wonder how the buyer is finally going to realize the problem.
In a situation like this, I say the buyer got exactly what s/he deserved.

The sale demonstrates that the buyer has absolutely no regard for the history that the autographs represent. S/he wasn't fooled by a master (or even poor) forgery; s/he simply didn't care enough to do even the most basic of research. And if s/he cares that little about who the autographs (real or fake, regardless) represent, then I find it difficult to feel any remorse for him/her.

"A fool and his money are soon parted." — Thomas Tusser

Greggy_D
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posted 09-25-2010 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I disagree, Robert. The auction house shoulders the blame for offering blatant fakes, especially since they were warned by one of our members. The item should never have or be offered for sale.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-25-2010 05:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whats being developed in this and previous threads addressing Aurora's behavior is a perception that the auction house is engaged in nefarious practices to defraud. Hopefully those who have standing (i.e. individuals who have purchased this garbage) will ultimately come to their senses and consider a class action against the company.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Greggy_D:
The item should never have or be offered for sale.
I don't disagree -- it shouldn't have even have been accepted as a consignment -- but I have no sympathy for the buyer in this case.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Hopefully those who have standing (i.e. individuals who have purchased this garbage) will ultimately come to their senses and consider a class action against the company.
It is fairly standard operating procedure for auction houses to include an indemnification clause in both their consignor and bidder registrations. If you have standing, you have no legal standing.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-25-2010 05:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hence class action (civil procedure)... however if criminal conduct is alledged there may be other legal remedies available under federal/state statutes as interstate commerce is involved.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 05:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I may be mistaken but I believe indemnification covers all forms of legal action; you agree to waive any responsibility on the part the auction house.

And that said, why wouldn't you want to bring the forger to justice? Blaming the sale's venue, whether it be an auction house, eBay, classified ad, message board, etc., won't stop the forger from going elsewhere with their fraudulent wares.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-25-2010 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I dont believe indemnification extends to protection against criminal conduct including conspiracy to defraud. Any laywers in the readership willing to weigh in?

mjanovec
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posted 09-25-2010 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
In a situation like this, I say the buyer got exactly what s/he deserved.
While I would agree that it's foolish for anyone to bid on this item... and I would hope that most collectors have better knowledge of space history than this... I have trouble saying that anyone deserves to be ripped off like this.

In the end, it'll be the consignor and the auction house who will walk away from this with profit in hand. Regardless of what we think the bidder deserves, I can say with absolute certainty that the consignor and the auction house do not deserve to make any money from this item... especially if it turns out the consignor is the forger of these signatures.

I would argue that buying from Aurora is worse than buying from eBay. At least with eBay, one is aware that it's a buyer-beware atmosphere. With Aurora, there is an expectation that these items were given some sort of review before being accepted for auction...creating a false sense of security among bidders that items are generally authentic. As we can see with Lot 356, no thorough review of the item took place whatsoever... not even considering that a set of Apollo 1 signatures would be one of the showcase items in any auction.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
I have trouble saying that anyone deserves to be ripped off like this.
Well, consider the flip side: what if the autographs were authentic? Does a bidder with little to no interest to know even when the Apollo 1 crew tragically died deserve to own their rare signatures?

Note that I am not suggesting the hypothetical bidder doesn't have the right to buy what s/he wants, but for those who consider autographs more than a-dime-a-dozen collectibles, can you honestly say s/he deserves to own them?

Personally, it bothers me when I see collectors who purchase space memorabilia -- of any type, but in particular, rare examples -- without first understanding at least the basic facts about the history they encapsulate. Worse (although not relevant to this discussion) are those who never take the time to learn about the history of the items they already own).

mjanovec
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posted 09-25-2010 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Well, consider the flip side: what if the autographs were authentic? Does a bidder with little to no interest to know even when the Apollo 1 crew tragically died deserve to own their rare signatures?

In an ideal world, a buyer would know enough about what they're buying in order to have a full appreciation of the history behind what they own. But I wouldn't go so far as to say what collectors do (and do not) deserve to own...as long as the item doesn't break any laws. Should we institute a litmus test to see which collectors are worthy of owning the items in their collections?

Besides, one could argue that a collector can fully appreciate the impact of the loss of the Apollo 1 crew without knowing all of the dates and details associated with the tragedy (and therefore not realizing that the magazine came out after the fire). Of course, they'll realize their mistake as soon as they open up that magazine.

I still stand by my statement that the real shame should be on the auction house and the forger in this instance. If anyone should be required to know their space history before buying/selling items, it should have been the auction house.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Should we institute a litmus test to see which collectors are worthy of owning the items in their collections?
No, because as already established, everyone is free to own whatever it is they desire (within the confines of the law, of course).

That said, that doesn't mean that others need -- or even should -- feel any sympathy for those who skip doing their homework and accept the sales pitch at face value...

quote:
If anyone should be required to know their space history before buying/selling items, it should have been the auction house.
Again, no disagreement here...

Greggy_D
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posted 09-25-2010 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Does a bidder with little to no interest to know even when the Apollo 1 crew tragically died deserve to own their rare signatures?
Sorry, but this is an elitist attitude that permeates the collectible realm in general. I have personally seen this type of opinion while collecting M1 Garands. The "elitist" collectors basically killed the fervor interest in the hobby, because others were not "good enough", "worthy enough", or "could not recognize the significance" of rare Garands.
quote:
That said, that doesn't mean that others need -- or even should -- feel any sympathy for those who skip doing their homework and accept the sales pitch at face value...
Considering the consignment rates charged to both the seller and buyer, the "sales pitch" sure as hell better be balls-on dead accurate.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Greggy_D:
Sorry, but this is an elitist attitude that permeates the collectible realm in general.
How is it elitist to suggest that someone should educate themselves about the activity they are participating in? It is not like ample reference material is not freely and readily available to anyone desiring to learn more.

To the contrary, I am suggesting more people should become more active in the hobby, not less, by a becoming a part of the community and sharing in its collective knowledge.

quote:
Considering the consignment rates charged to both the seller and buyer, the "sales pitch" sure as hell better be balls-on dead accurate.
It costs a lot to buy a car too, but I wouldn't advise trusting the dealer as your only source of information.

Greggy_D
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posted 09-25-2010 08:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
It costs a lot to buy a car too, but I wouldn't advise trusting the dealer as your only source of information.
A car dealer doesn't clear a 40% commission on the purchase price of a car, nor do they sell fake Chevy Malibus.

Playalinda
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posted 09-25-2010 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Playalinda   Click Here to Email Playalinda     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
In a situation like this, I say the buyer got exactly what s/he deserved.
It's a good idea to keep in mind that not all people who love this hobby are as expert at spotting a fake versus a real signature.

Some collectors who just started buying autographs go to auction houses trusting that the lots are screened to be original as claimed.

Respectfully, just my viewpoint.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-25-2010 09:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Playalinda:
It's a good idea to keep in mind that not all people who love this hobby are as expert at spotting a fake versus a real signature.
And I do acknowledge this... my comment was in specific regards to the sale of the Apollo 1 autographs on a magazine published after they died -- a sale where one's knowledge about the autographs really didn't matter.

The autographs could have been the most expert forgeries capable of fooling the most experienced collector, and it still wouldn't matter so long as the bidders took the time and interest to know the history of the Apollo 1 astronauts and their tragic death.

quote:
Some collectors who just started buying autographs go to auction houses trusting that the lots are screened to be original as claimed.
I don't dispute that this happens, but I disagree that it's wise behavior, even if the auction houses were staffed with all highly-respected experts. It shouldn't be labeled as elitist to suggest that one educates him/herself -- or at the very least seeks a second opinion -- before acting upon a desire.

SpaceSteve
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posted 09-25-2010 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceSteve   Click Here to Email SpaceSteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Playalinda:
Some collectors who just started buying autographs go to auction houses trusting that the lots are screened to be original as claimed.
Thing is, as President Reagan once famously said about the Soviets; "Trust, but verify." We all trust the auction companies, and all sellers in fact, to offer only genuine, authentic items. It is still our responsibility though as buyers, to verify to our best ability, the genuineness of the item. In a situation such as the lot in question here, it is so simple to verify its non-genuineness, that the lack of any buyer verification is to me anyway, unforgivable. I simply have no sympathy for a buyer who buys a fake, when they haven't even performed the most rudimentary investigation before hand.

As for my bidding in today's auction, I placed early bids on lots 213D and 218 (Alan Shepard and John Glenn signed Mercury covers). I thankfully got outbid on both, as after reading this thread, I don't care to send my money to Aurora for anything. They've simply flunked the test and have proven themselves untrustworthy, and undeserving of my patronage.

mjanovec
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posted 09-26-2010 01:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think anyone is going to argue that buyers shouldn't educate themselves about what they are buying (especially if someone is going to buy from eBay). But there is an implied review that goes on when specialty auction houses accept items for consignment. To be fair, one doesn't normally expect an auction house to make such an obvious mistake when reviewing a premium item...assuming a review was done at all.

Was the buyer's purchase of those signatures a bad decision? Of course.

Was Aurora accepting those signatures for consignment an even worse mistake? Absolutely.

spaced out
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posted 09-26-2010 02:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaced out   Click Here to Email spaced out     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally I do think the buyer deserves some sympathy here. They could have been well aware of the details of the Apollo 1 tragedy and even familiar with the appearance of their signatures.

The autographs on this item are good forgeries not blatant fakes and thus even someone who had taken the time to research real signatures could still have been fooled.

Then reading the description of the item itself they would be under the impression that this issue of the magazine was published pre-flight, thus there was no reason to be suspicious of the signatures being present on such a magazine.

It's only if they happened to double-check the date that they'd realize the problem. Of course it's obvious when pointed-out but I can certainly understand someone missing it.

In my opinion the blame rests entirely on Aurora. The item description states that the issue is "profiling the 3 astronauts". Presumably to write that description someone at the auction house had to open it up and take a look. You would have thought the fact that the article was covering the aftermath of the fire would have registered with the auctioneer.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 09-26-2010 04:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From this side of the Altantic you do have to wonder whether lawyers are running the USA. Trip on the sidewalk, sue. Burn yourself on hot coffee from MacDonalds, sue! Smoke yourself to death..sue! Too lazy to do your homework and end up with a fake...sue!

Advising recourse to legal action is a little premature, don't you think? I agree with the fact that Aurora have been careless, complacent and negligent in not removing items which collectors have advised as fake. However, I have NEVER had a problem returning items to them for refund when I have received and examined them. Something has gone systemically wrong at Aurora over the years and that's bad for everyone.

GACspaceguy
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posted 09-26-2010 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I truly wonder if the buyer is a new collector. If this "collector" has very little knowledge of the program why would they jump into collecting signed items by spending $1,200 on three astronauts that did not even walk on the moon? For that kind of money you could buy most of the moonwalkers if you exclude Young and Aldrin. Don't take this wrong these are three heroes in my book but if you are such a novice that you don't know the history why would you spend that kind of money on these three.

I believe this is some type of "investment" collector and in that case there should have been plenty of research prior to buying. I know nothing about stamps therefore if I were to buy a collection piece I sure would take some time to search the net to see what I was getting into. Ultimately any scam artist, as this seller is, should be thrown in jail, and the auction house should know better and have pulled the auction, but I am hard pressed to believe that the buyer is some unsuspecting novice.

freshspot
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posted 09-26-2010 06:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to me that these sorts of discussions happen frequently regarding autographs. It doesn't matter if its eBay or auction houses or dealers or private sales, the discussions on these message boards frequently digress into autographs.

But that's just one aspect of space collecting.

I've purchased various bits of hardware over the years through most of the auction houses, including Aurora. And I've gotten some great bargains as this group talks them down regarding the autograph side.

It seems to me that purchasing autographs is always fraught with danger. That's why I stopped doing it years ago. Its always one person's opinion against another's and like politics and religion, it is a discussion that has no winners.

Ross
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posted 09-26-2010 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Surprised as I am by Aurora accepting this item in their auction, I'm shocked that they didn't pull the item as soon as they were notified that it was a fraud. It's not as if that is somebody's opinion, it is a fact based on known dates. One could reasonably argue that continuing to sell an item under such circumstances is criminal fraud. At the very least it is misrepresentation and totally unacceptable.

I'm also surprised at the suggestion that US law would allow an indemnification clause under such circumstances. Australian law clearly requires all items to not only be exactly as described but also to function correctly. It also outlaws misleading descriptions. Therefore, even if the description of this item is technically correct, if it leaves out important information it is illegal. An indemnification clause is deemed to be invalid under such circumstances. I have no doubt that if this item was sold in Australia, it would fall under Australian consumer law and the customer could immediately return it for full compensation including associated costs such as postage.


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