Bob Dylan issued a rare public statement Friday night acknowledging that he “regrets” he made an “error in judgment” in using machine technology to put duplicate signatures on works of art and books that have been advertised and sold as hand-signed over the past three years.
He says the use of automated signatures has only happened since 2019, when he got a daze, and during the pandemic, when he wasn’t able to help staff sign by hand which he had previously done. It’s been “emphasized that this sort of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art world and literature,” says Dylan. Now that it’s out and sparking controversy, the singer-songwriter says, “I want to get it right right away. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that.”
Other musicians have been suspected of using an automated system of hand-signed items, and in rare cases even owned that, but others didn’t sell art prints that routinely sell for $3,000 to $15,000, as Dylan’s art prints do. Dylan’s statement that he used the auto-opener to sign artwork follows Simon & Schuster’s admission one week earlier that a batch of $600 of signed copies of Dylan’s new book, “Philosophy of Modern Song,” had been auto-signed, with refunds offered at immediately.
UK-based Castle Galleries, which specializes in selling Dylan art prints, issued a statement on Saturday saying it is “contacting all of our collectors who have purchased any prints of the (relevant) issues to offer a solution to make it all right.” It is believed that galleries that have sold the latest artwork will announce a plan to deal with the problem as early as this week.
Dylan’s statement, posted on his Facebook account, says he hand-signed everything that was announced as such through 2019. It reads as follows:
“For my fans and followers, I have learned that there has been some controversy over signatures on some of my recent art prints and on a limited edition Modern Song Philosophy. I have hand-signed every art print over the years, and there has never been an issue,” he begins. Statement.
However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these autograph sessions, and we couldn’t find a safe and practical way to complete what I needed to do during an outbreak. Therefore, during the epidemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo did not help. As contractual deadlines approached, the idea of the automatic pen was suggested, along with the assertion that this sort of thing is done “all the time” in the world of art and literature.
Dylan’s statement concludes, “Using a machine was an error of judgment that I want to correct immediately. I am working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that. With my deepest regrets, Bob Dylan.”
It is not known whether plans to address the technical situation would include refunds – which could conceivably run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars at least – or the less expensive option of offering replacement prints already hand-signed, if Dylan is up to it now – or some other unknown option. . In the meantime, the topic of “modern song philosophy” has already been addressed, with customers purchasing the $600, 900-book limited edition already redeemed this week by Simon & Schuster.
Dylan’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Castle Galleries’ statement, also posted to Facebook, read: “We were informed late yesterday that during the Covid 19 pandemic, Bob Dylan has used an automated device to sign many of his limited editions rather than his usual hand-signature. These releases are: “Retrospectrum collection prints and Sunset, Monument Valley prints released by us this year. We can confirm that all other editions were hand-signed by Bob Dylan himself.”
The gallery statement continues: “We were completely unaware of the use of the ‘auto-open’ feature on these specific prints, and we sincerely apologize for the disappointment this may cause. We will be reaching out to each and every one of our collectors who have purchased any print of the aforementioned editions to offer a solution. To fully rectify the matter. Details of how we intend to resolve this issue will follow shortly.”
As of Sunday morning in the US prints of hundreds of different Dylan paintings were still being advertised on the Castle Galleries website and, as “hand signed”, range in price from about £2,700 for the lowest-priced single print to £14,500.00. (or about $17,500, SE) for a boxed set of six. Many, if not most, of these items predate the period when the singer-artist says he began using the machine’s technology, but collectors will no doubt scramble to see which side of the division their earlier purchases reach.
Not all fans are upset about the autographs being revealed. In Dylan’s Facebook post expressing regret about auto-signs, the thousands-plus responses added Sunday morning were in favor of the singer, saying his bisexuality wasn’t much of an issue to begin with and/or that he had taken a stand-up in publicly apologizing. Many sympathized with Dylan over the vertigo he described as experiencing in 2019 (the artist’s statement didn’t say if he still suffered from the condition).
Autograph Live was integral in keeping track of what turned out to be easily detectable duplicate signatures on the books, though 17 different signature types were eventually discovered as users of the site compared notes and screenshots.
Soon after duplicates of the book appeared, users began comparing signatures on their more expensive art prints, and apparently found some matching ones, too… albeit in what might be called an automatic pencil. The general consensus in the forums so far seems to be to believe that what Dylan said in his Facebook statement is true – prints signed prior to 2019 or 2020 appear to have been signed individually.
Dylan’s statement that he suffers from vertigo is the first time this has been revealed to the public. The singer continues to be active, having resumed his solid touring routine with a critically acclaimed tour.
The post that has become a resource for those looking to compare notes to auto-generated signatures was created by Jason Hicks, who posts as Jason H on Autograph Live, who tells us diverse“Celebrities need to learn a lesson to stop this autoplay practice for good, for the sake of our hobby. I hate autoplay with a passion, which is why I have spent countless hours creating this post, comparing photos and curating as much information as possible. … I have It’s been a sore thumb at this hobby since before I was even born. If auto-unlock technology advances, there is a chance it could become undetectable, which is why we need to end its use as soon as possible.”
Van Morrison has recently been accused in forums of using an auto-opening system to sign CDs, although his management has issued a statement denying this. However, Sinead O’Connor owned up to doing so through her signed memo, without any apology. Either way, the disputed items sold for less than $50, which limited the potential for an uproar.
O’Connor said, “Autographed books, I signed using the autograph stamp because I was in no position to hand over my name ten thousand times, which is the number I was asked to sign. My son was all right as I was. So I stamped them myself. Which is my autograph.” However, many retailers pulled O’Connor’s “signed” books, which were selling for about $30, from sale.
One of the world’s most popular country singers was widely accused in forums last year of using the automation system for a series of book and record releases; Although there has been no public acknowledgment of the complaints, one publisher has reportedly quietly taken returns and issued refunds on items costing hundreds of dollars. Dylan’s publisher issued refunds without requiring consumers to return their books.
Autopen is commonly used by elected officials and executives, but its use in the world of celebrities often leads to speculation and suspicion in the world of autographed holdings. A video showing how commonly available devices work:
The controversy surrounding Dylan’s use of auto-opening for items advertised as “personally signed” was amplified by the extent to which Simon & Schuster went to great lengths to validate signatures in advertisements and mailings, even sending out $600 limited-edition books of “The Philosophy of the Song”. Modern” with a letter of notarization signed by the publisher. Requests for refunds were initially denied, as the publisher continued to validate the signatures, before admitting a “mistake” on November 20 and refunding all purchases in the previous week.
If the publisher refunds the purchase price of the 900 autographed books that were sold as hand signed, that would amount to more than $500,000 in refunds awarded in the past week — not counting a separate batch of 90 autographed books announced as being for sale in UK The value of Dylan’s real autograph was evident in listings on eBay that showed attempts to resell supposedly autographed books for thousands of dollars each before auto-opening news erased their value.
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