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Fake Ghostbusters Autographs on eBay - EXPOSED!

 By Paul Rudoff on Aug. 31, 2022 at 11:25 PM , Categories: Reviews & Merch, Cast & Crew
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Recently, I decided to see if I could find an 8x10 Ghostbusters photograph signed by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver to replace one that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I went on eBay to see what I could find. What I found were a whole bunch of fake signed photos. I thought it would be of interest to the community if I exposed some of these fakes. Read on to find out more...

As I said in the introduction, I had a 8x10 Ghostbusters II photograph signed by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I bought it from dealer Bubble & Squeak (eBay ID: bubble-n-squeak) on May 4, 2006 for $73.00 plus $6.00 shipping. Below is a before-and-after comparison using the image I saved from the original eBay listing. As you can see, there's no way it could have been saved.

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It was a beautiful photo and all of the signatures appeared to be authentic. When I was originally shopping for this photo back in 2006, I used Ernie Hudson's signature as the litmus test for authenticity. Ernie is the most common of all Ghostbusters cast member signatures. You can find hundreds, if not thousands, of them out there; and he's likely to be signing at the next convention happening somewhere in the world. Below are two authentic examples of his signature. The one on top came from a comic book I bought from his website, while the second one was signed in front of me at the Ghostbusters: Afterlife premiere.

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You will notice a few distinctive features. Pay attention to the "E" in Ernie, the "H" in Hudson, and the way his last name trails off at the end. I used these attributes when I was searching recently for a replacement signed photo. If Ernie's signature doesn't match, then I know it's a fake.

Admittedly, I should have tried to get a replacement sooner. The ideal time to look would have been between December 2012 (after I moved in to my new home) and February 2014 (when Harold died). Waiting eight years after Harold died made the search near impossible. The availability of authentic Ghostbusters photos signed by all four guys and Sigourney is slim, and would be limited to only a 30 year period for Ghostbusters II photos, and 35 years for Ghostbusters photos. Aside from each of the two movie premieres, I can't think of any instance where all five people would have been in the same place at the same time for dealers and autograph seekers to get all of their signatures on one photo. Since Ernie and Dan are the only ones who, to my knowledge, have done autograph signings, the rest would have to be obtained by dealers sending people to various movie premieres to get them to sign photos that have already been signed by the others.

With that in mind, the fact that right now in August 2022 - over eight years after Harold died - there are hundreds of Ghostbusters photos on eBay supposedly hand-signed by all five people (and some with Rick Moranis' signature, too), should tell anyone with common sense that they are absolutely fake. Unless Harold signed hundreds of photos before he died and left them for the others to add their signatures to. Quick, someone get Violet Ramis on the line and ask her :-) Here is a screenshot showing a small sampling of the results that come up when you search eBay for "signed ghostbusters photo ramis murray aykroyd hudson". Just to be clear, these are NOT photos being sold as reprints ("RP"), but ones that are being sold for $100+ as authentic. Click on it to view the full 800x9850 screenshot in a new window, though even those 45 listings are just a selection of the signed photos being offered for sale on eBay, and not all of the current listings.

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You'll notice that they all say that they come with a "COA" (Certificate of Authenticity). This means absolutely nothing when it comes to authenticity. A COA is nothing more than one person's opinion on the validity of the signature. Most of them are worth less than toilet paper. It takes little effort to buy some colored or fancy paper from Staples and print a COA on it. Here's one COA I found on eBay that looks like something I could have done in Print Shop Deluxe back on Windows 3.1.

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I could sit here and pick specific photos from eBay and debunk them, but that would be very boring for me. The fact that you can find so many that are supposedly "hand-signed" by all five people, one of whom died over eight years ago, should tell you they're fakes. You'll also notice that the ones using the Ghostbusters II promo photo that has Louis Tully photoshopped into it magically have Rick Moranis' autograph, too. Whomever is making these fakes figured that they must add "signatures" for every person in the photo.

Going a step further, a few of these photos that Harold Ramis (and everyone else) signed didn't exist until after Harold Ramis died in February 2014! I guess his ghost, possibly played by Bob Gunton, came back to sign these print-outs. These first three are print-outs of the last two framegrabs I have on Spook Central's Ghostbusters II TV Commercial page, which came from the unfinished teaser trailer on the 4K/Blu-ray set that was released in 2019. I really oughta start watermarking all of my high-res images.

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This last one is a new Ghostbusters II cover image that Sony created just a few years ago to use as the "poster" image for digital releases of the movie, after they retired the 2014 Blu-ray cover art.

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Most of the signed photos are being sold without framing. Originally, I was going to write that if it's framed into a nifty display, and includes a hologram COA, then it's likely authentic. My line of thinking is that a forger wouldn't go through that much effort. However, after seeing this photo (eBay item #125461463571) being offered in a frame with a hologram COA from Heritage Authentication (ID 104472), I have my doubts on that line of thinking.

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Ernie's signature is the worst fake I've ever seen. Look at that shitty "H", which looks more like a "U". As seen in my legit examples, the "H" in his real signature looks more like an "S" with a vertical line before it. Here's a comparison of the fake (top) with both of my authentic autographs.

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Okay, so you might be wondering if I was ever able to find an authentic signed photo of the guys and Sigourney to replace the destroyed one. Sadly, I have to say, "No." I was able to find an eBay listing offering a lot of two framed signed photo displays that gives me the four guys, but no Sigourney.

I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the Spook Central VIPs for providing the funds that allowed me to buy this item and review it for all of you.

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It was being sold by Jason Sims (eBay ID: drsimz), presumably the owner of Dark Side Collectibles Tulsa. He had it listed (item #304493993067) for $199.99 + $25.00 shipping, which would have cost me $244.40 after eBay added their $19.41 sales tax. Thankfully, since it didn't sell after being listed for, at least, a few months, he accepted my $150 best offer on August 14, 2022. So I got it for a total of $190.09 ($150.00 + $25.00 shipping + $15.09 tax), saving me $54.31 over the original price. (Enlargements for the two photos can be found on My Ghostbusters Autographs page.)

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What made this lot of photos enticing to me over all of the fakes was that it wasn't one single photo signed by everyone. One photo is signed by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson; the three living original Ghostbusters. Given that Harold is no longer with us, the only photos you could legitimately get signed by all of the guys today would be this. The other photo is just signed by Bill and Harold. I can honestly believe this photo to be something that was legitimately signed by the two of them before 2014. The less signatures on it, the more I can believe it to be authentic because a person is more likely to get one or two signatures on a single item than to get four or five signatures.

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Obviously, both photos aren't the complete image. One is a Ghostbusters rooftop photo from which Harold was cropped out (like the old VHS days), and the other is a Ghostbusters II "shooting at the slime-covered museum" photo from which Harold and Dan were cropped out. A nice touch is that both photos were matted into a nifty display with additional items; smaller photos for the three guys (yes, the small Ernie photo is from the other film), and a No Ghost Logo decal for the Murray & Ramis framed photo. That both photos are framed into displays like this gave me hope that they were authentic because I didn't think a forger would go through this much effort.

The Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson display, which measures 18" x 23" (9.5" x 7.5" photo area), bears a holographic COA from Autograph Authentication Authority (ID #A11455). The Bill Murray & Harold Ramis display, which measures 22" x 14" (9.5" x 7.5" photo area), bears a holographic COA from Authenticated Ink (ID #B701197). There's a hologram sticker on the back of each frame and a small card with the details. It's been a long time since I collected autographs. Most of my collection either was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, or was sold off after my father died in January 2014. I have no idea what authentication companies are reputable and which are not. I have never heard of AAA or Authenticated Ink, but that doesn't meant that they're not legit. They both made an effort to produce holograms and set up a database, which is a good sign, but then again, so did Heritage Authentication, and as I've proven, they can't identify a fake Ernie Hudson autograph. AAA's site is still active and Certificate #A11455 shows up as "Subject: Murray/Hudson/Aykroyd, Item: 8x10 Photograph, Notes: None". As of 2022, Authenticated Ink is no longer in business. An archived copy of their site from February 21, 2020 exists, but the look-up form on it doesn't work.

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Are the autographs on these photos authentic? Well, Ernie's is a match, so that's a good sign.

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I got Dan's autograph at the Afterlife premiere, though he signed the back of my magazine instead of the front. The signature on the framed photo is a pretty good match for the real thing. The thing to consider when trying to validate autographs is that no person signs 100% the same way every time. There will always be slight variations. The key is to look for distinctive features that are generally the same every time. Dan used to sign his name more completely, so autographs he signed decades ago will look more "filled out" then the abbreviated autographs seen here.

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I have no pre-existing Bill Murray autographs. Yes, he was at the Afterlife premiere, but he didn't stick around to meet the fans. The best I can do here is to just compare the two Bill signatures on each of the framed photos with each other. They seem to match, though one is a more lazy signature, as if he was in a bit of a hurry when he signed it.

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I have no authentic Harold Ramis autographs to compare this to. There are some signed photo scans I downloaded years ago, but I don't know if they're authentic or not. If Violet Ramis could come forth and let me know if this is her father's signature or not, I would greatly appreciate it.

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Well, that's about it. If you're looking for an authentic Ghostbusters signed photo, eBay is NOT the place you should look. You may get lucky and find something like I did, but the place is mostly cluttered with fakes. The only place that seems to sell authentic Ghostbusters signed items is HollywoodMemorabilia.com. Some of their items have been authenticated by PSA/DNA, JSA, and Beckett, which are authentication companies that I've heard of; and this is why their items are rather expensive. In this case, expensive means the higher chance of the item being legit. Despite all of the eBay listings, you won't find a single photo signed by the four guys and Sigourney for under $200. Expect to pay over $1,000 for something like that if it's legit.

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