Korea News: Controversy Over Potentially Counterfeit Beatles Autographed Albums at Auction

Joon Bae Kim
Published on

An album signed by the Beatles, which a Korean online auction site promoted, has recently been withdrawn. This is due to a controversy over counterfeiting. The operator only stated that it was ‘in the process of verification’ without official notice.

The art and culture auction open market platform ‘BLACKLOT’ put a Beatles autographed album, Abbey Road, on the auction list on November 14 and turned it private after controversy over counterfeiting arose. Bidding was scheduled to run until December 5, 2022 during a rare LP collection event. Other Beatles autographed albums such as Let It Be and Meet the Beatles have also disappeared.

A screen capture of the 'Rare LP Collection' event page that came up and disappeared in BLACKLOT.
A screen capture of the ‘Rare LP Collection’ event page that came up and disappeared in BLACKLOT.

BLACKLOT is an auction open market created by Seoul Auction, a Korean auction company. Due to the nature of the open market, sellers can auction by entering information, an auction schedule, and auction start prices. Abbey Road and Let It Be, which contain the autographs of all members of the Beatles, had starting bids of about USD 200,000 (KRW 260 million) and USD 106,000 (KRW 140 million), respectively, while Meet the Beatles, signed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, came up to USD 76,000 (KRW 100 million). 

In particular, the Abbey Road album was accompanied by a certificate of appraisal by PSA, an American appraisal company, at the time of registration. However, the Korean Beatles club raised the issue of the date and form of the appraisal, claiming that the signature was counterfeited. It was then reported that a member of the club asked the PSA for the authenticity of the appraisal, and the PSA indicated that the signatures were indeed forged.

In response, BLACKLOT was in a position to wait before selling the Beatles autographed albums. An official from BLACKLOT said, “We have put down (the works) because we need to inspect them,” adding, “We will disclose the results when the verification process is completed.” The official added that BLACKLOT had asked the PSA for a re-examination and had not received a reply at time of publication. It did not confirm when the re-examination confirmation process would be completed.

If the albums posted at the BLACKLOT event turn out to be counterfeit, it is feared that this issue will negatively affect the Korean auction market. The Korean art auction market has been on the rise recently. Based on the total winning bid, the market tripled from the previous year to USD 250 million (KRW 329.4 billion) in 2021. Even if 2020 slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the figure has more than doubled from USD 120 million (KRW 156.5 billion) in 2019.

An art industry official pointed out, “The Korean art auction market lacks experts who can appraise works and is particularly vulnerable to overseas work sentiment,” adding, “It is also a problem that there are people who want to take advantage of the limitations of the domestic market.” The official added that efforts to build systems such as manpower are needed to expand the market.

Photo of Beatles members and LP combined. Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Photo of Beatles members and LP combined. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Meanwhile, different Beatles autographed albums have been sold at several overseas auctions. A well-known example was sold for USD 290,000 in 2013 with the autographed album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Media Source
Joon Bae Kim
Joon Bae Kim
Reporter and editor

Joon Bae Kim is a reporter and editor for Auction Daily in Korea. He has been reporting in various media for about 20 years in Korea. He also served as the editor-in-chief of IT Chosun. He is well versed in the IT field and is interested in the advancement of the auction market in Korea.

한국에 주재하고 있는 옥션데일리 필진이자 편집자이다. 한국에서 20년 가량 취재하고 기사를 써왔다. IT조선 편집국장을 역임했다. IT분야에 조예가 깊으며 한국에서의 경매시장 첨단화에 관심을 갖고 있다.

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