Elvis Presley, The Beatles top list of most-forged autographs

LOS ANGELES, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Elvis Presley and The

Beatles top the list of most-forged celebrity signatures in

2012, with less than half of their autographs for sale certified

as genuine, memorabilia authenticators PSA/DNA said on Thursday.

The King and The Fab Four British rockers, who topped the

list two years ago when it was last released, joined notable

figures such as former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and late

pop star Michael Jackson on the list of most-forged celebrity

signatures.

Late American astronaut Neil Armstrong landed at No. 3 on

the list, after fake Armstrong signatures rose significantly

after his death in July.

One reason forgeries of Armstrong's autograph soared was

that he rarely signed for fans during his life, Joe Orlando,

president of Newport Beach-based PSA/DNA, told Reuters.

"Armstrong is someone who is very conscious of the value of

his own autograph," Orlando said. "Even before he passed away he

was very tough to get...It really heightens the level of his

market."

Secretaries and assistants responding to huge volumes of fan

mail are one reason for fake signatures floating through the

marketplace, said Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment

and music memorabilia at Heritage Auctions in Los Angeles.

"Back in the day, the kids would write to the movie

studios," Barrett said.

"There was absolutely no financial gain 50 years ago and

secretaries and assistants just wanted to make them happy. A lot

of times people stumble upon an old box of signed photographs in

grandma's attic and don't know they're forged."

Barrett, whose specialty is late Hollywood actress Marilyn

Monroe's autographs, said that official documents such as

contracts and checks are reliable sources to verify whether or

not a signature is forged.

"A good rule of thumb is to compare it a signed contract,"

she said. "Sometimes (celebrities) would have secretaries or

other sign photos and letters but they couldn't have a contract

signed by a proxy."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and

Cynthia Osterman)

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