Beatles' Bass in Dick Clark Auction May Be a Fake

Dec. 5, 2006 — -- It looks like one of the featured items in the auction of Dick Clark's celebrated memorabilia collection may be a fake.

One of the featured items in the Dick Clark Auction scheduled today at Guernsey's Auction House was Paul McCartney's autographed Beatles' era, left-handed Hofner bass guitar.

It was estimated to sell for $25,000 to $100,000; however, the makers of the Hofner have told "Good Morning America" that the model wasn't made until 1978, years after the Beatles disbanded.

Guernsey's Auction House has agreed to remove the guitar, for now.

"In as much as time does not permit us to properly investigate the matter, the lot will be removed from the event. Depending on the outcome of our research, the bass guitar may be offered at a future date," Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's Auction House, said in a statement.

The Dick Clark Auction has been called possibly the largest in rock 'n' roll history, with items from Michael Jackson's glove to Madonna's bustier up for bids.

In October, the alleged McCartney Hofner bass was promoted on a number of media outlets, including "GMA."

Shortly after it was shown on "GMA," questions about the authenticity of the guitar were raised.

Shaky Signature, Doubts About Ownership

Beatles signature expert Frank Caiazzo has spent 20 years studying Beatles signatures. Caiazzo inspected the bass while it was on display prior to the auction.

"Very shaky signature," he said. "You can see that it is slowly executed."

"When I saw the Hofner bass, in my opinion, the signatures on the bass were not authentic. Both signatures," he said. "They stood out to me as being very shaky forgeries, done by somebody with limited skill."

Andy Babiuk, author of the book "Beatles Gear," has studied the history of the Beatles instruments.

He doubts whether the guitar belonged to McCartney at all.

"Paul only really had two Hofners while he was with the Beatles. The first one was stolen in 1969, unfortunately. And the second one was the one he used primarily throughout the Beatles, and he still owns it to this day," Babiuk said.

The Problem With Memorabilia

The controversy over the alleged McCartney bass is indicative of a growing problem in the market for rock 'n' roll keepsakes.

Rock 'n' roll memorabilia is a booming $250 million business.

Mark Zakarin, a specialist in rock 'n' roll memorabilia, says with such high demand, forgeries abound.

"You'll see a lot of forged material out there. An amazing amount," Zakarin said.

He explained that the Internet was ripe with forgeries.

As the case of the alleged McCartney guitar might prove, buyers who want a piece of rock 'n' roll history had better be sure they don't get a rock 'n' roll fantasy.