Memorabilia rocks entepreneur's bottom line

He also says that there's a conflict when someone both sells and authenticates autographs.

Not true, says Caiazzo. He authenticates for competitors and auction houses, including Christie's. He says they call on him because he specializes in four signatures, while forensics experts often deal with lots of stars in entertainment, sports and politics.

What's more, he says, "Signed album covers are the rarest of the rare." Fans typically "had autograph books, napkins, scraps of paper and programs. They rarely had an album on hand to sign."

Siegel, for his part, says, "I've known Frank for a long time, and I trust his ability very much."

The court case has been delayed by a dispute over whether it belongs in Florida or New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Gladstone says he tries to ensure his collectibles are authentic by scoring them directly from stars and others close to them.

He says that he has deals with the estates of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, and in April he cut one with Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin. Now, he says, he's working on agreements with Tom Petty and Billy Joel.

Gladstone's customers, 70% of whom are men, consistently buy Beatles autographs. He says that his copy of Sgt. Pepper's signed by all four of The Beatles on the front — which collectors prefer — is worth $25,000. His latest catalog also is chock-full of albums autographed on the front by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison.

But Siegel expects as much as $75,000 for his copy of Please Please Me — The Beatles' first album, released in the U.K. in 1963 — and signed by the Fab Four and their manager, Brian Epstein.

Is there any market for memorabilia from female stars, such as Joni Mitchell, who's also a painter?

"Joni Mitchell's great, but she gives her paintings away," Gladstone says. "She won't sell out."

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