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Spahn21
02-08-2016, 12:54 PM
As some of you may know, though I rarely post comments, I am a Net 54 member and often read its discussions—especially regarding autograph-related topics. And hearing now that Doug Allen is sentenced, I would like to address the conversation of me which has taken place here over the last several days.

Exhibit E (“EE”) lists me as a “shill bidder” on 38 different Mastro-Legendary (“M-L”) lots during the period from December 2007 - February 2009. Despite what it says, the document’s assertion that I was a shill bidder is categorically untrue.

I have NEVER shill bid in a Mastro auction, Legendary auction, or any other auction.

There was, however, a reason why the government included my name in relation to those items. Here is what happened.

On six occasions from 2007-2008 M-L paid me to authenticate autograph material consigned to their auctions. Sometime during or before this period, M-L auctions instituted a written code of conduct (“COC”), see:

http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/mastro-issues-own-code-of-conduct/

According to paragraph 2 of its COC, M-L violated its own rules by accepting bids by me, one of its authenticators, on items they knew to be consigned by M-L or another party as defined in paragraph 2. This violation applied to the 38 lots in question, all of which I had bid on to win (succeeding on six), and all of which I am told were owned by an entity defined in COC, paragraph 2. Until the release of EE, I never knew the identities of the consignors of those items, or that my bid on any of those lots constituted a violation of any M-L rules. And I also did not know until last week that M-L was obligated under its COC to prohibit me from bidding on those lots.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed that it has absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item, and that these 38 lots were added to EE because M-L violated its own publically released rules (COC, paragraph 2) by their acceptance and inclusion of my bids on items they knew were owned by M-L, a M-L employee or a M-L affiliate – and not because of any wrongdoing by me.

Despite my desire to release this statement before now, I wanted to allow the final proceedings in the criminal case to conclude first. And it is my understanding that those ended today with Doug Allen’s sentencing.

I cannot speak to any situation but my own. But if any of you have questions regarding this matter as it relates to me, please post them here and I will do my best to answer them.

--Kevin Keating

Hankphenom
02-08-2016, 01:01 PM
Kevin Keating's story speaks for itself, and he doesn't need, nor has he requested, any support from me. The reputation he has established during his 30 years as a major player in the hobby/industry is the greatest testimony possible as to his honesty and integrity. But having set up at shows with Kevin since 2004, and having conducted numerous deals of all kinds with him over the past 25 years, I'm happy to say that I have never seen or heard of a single instance in which he could be said to have done something dishonest or unethical. There's no doubt in my mind that everyone on this forum who has done any business with Kevin would say exactly the same thing about their experience with him and his business, Quality Autographs. If anyone has a disagreement with that statement, let's hear about it. It's always bothered me when someone posts to the effect that the entire business is dirty, corrupt, and dishonest. There is plenty of that, to be sure, just as in any arena where lots of money is at stake, and we need to do everything we can to clean up that part of it. But there are also lots of honest, hard-working people in this hobby, more than just a few, and Kevin is one of those.

And that brings me to the specific topic of the court exhibit E and it's list of supposed shill bidders. Based on Kevin's experience, clearly the methodology used by the U.S. Attorney's office to compile these names was not foolproof, and pulled in at least one individual who was doing nothing of the sort. So that begs the question: what can we say about the others on the list? In trying to make sense of what I see there, I would put the transactions listed in five categories:

1) Mastro consignments (including by "straw" companies and individuals) that were bid up by Mastro employees and direct associates. These are the most obviously fraudulent transactions.
2) Non-Mastro consignments bid up Mastro employees or direct associates. These can also be easily understood as an attempt to drive up the bidding and therefore the premiums collected by Mastro as a percentage of the hammer price.
3) Mastro consignments bid up by individuals NOT directly employed by or associated with Mastro. This is the group in which Kevin was included erroneously, so it needs to be determined which of these individuals were actually working on Mastro's behalf to shill bid, and which were not. It would also be instructive to know why these individuals were conspiring with Mastro for his benefit. What was the deal for them?
4) Non-Mastro consignments shill bid by individuals not associated with Mastro. There are instances on the list in which the same individual places bids on many or all of another individuals consignments. On it's face, this would seem to be a matter of consignors, not being able to bid on their own lots, having friends or associates shill bid for them. This brings up several questions, including a) was Mastro complicit in this consignor strategy, with higher premiums for them, or did these consignors act on their own? And b) what are the legal and ethical implications for the consignors, in both instances of conspiracy with Mastro or acting on their own?
5) There are numerous instances on the list that don't fit the patterns above for one reason or another, and which need to be explained so the individuals named don't get unjustifiably tarred with the same brush as the ones whose actions were illegal or unethical. It doesn't make sense to me that many individuals listed as shill bidders on a lot or two or several were involved in any kind of conspiracy with Mastro or with the consignors to drive up the prices on those lots, so what's the explanation for their inclusion on the list?

In general, it seems that, for the good of the hobby and of the individuals named, a complete accounting and explanation for every transaction listed is the only way, now that this list has seen the light of day, to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that we can all derive the benefit of that knowledge and move on from this tawdry affair. I must say I am surprised that many individuals named on the list have not taken the opportunity afforded by Net54 to explain their inclusion on it. Surely, Kevin Keating can't be the only one whose reputation has been tarnished unjustifiably by the publication of this information. It also seems incumbent on the U.S. Attorney, whose office is responsible for the unintended release of this document, to now come forward with an explanation for all of the information it contains.

glchen
02-08-2016, 01:40 PM
I wonder if this is the reason that all of the authenticators from PSA and SGC will give on why they are on the list.

It's amazing how when someone's name is on a list like in the other thread, they are absolutely hammered like the authenticators from PSA and SGC, but when the accused give a valid reason, you can hear birds chirping. It reminds me of when newspapers get an article incorrectly accusing someone of improprieties, it is on the front page, but if they are found to be incorrect, the retractions are hidden in some small print hidden in the paper.

Another thing about these threads is that Leon has allowed it to be kept open, so anyone on the list can respond and declare their innocence (like Rob L, and Kevin here). However, if everyone knows that the people on the list have read the thread and know they are on the list, but they don't respond, the assumption is going to be that they are guilty.

So the OP did state that Doug Allen was sentenced today. Anyone know what the sentence was?

drcy
02-08-2016, 01:44 PM
I've often said a newspaper's corrections should appear in the same spot/page where the original story appeared.

vintagetoppsguy
02-08-2016, 01:47 PM
Kevin Keating's story speaks for itself, and he doesn't need, nor has he requested, any support from me. The reputation he has established during his 30 years as a major player in the hobby/industry is the greatest testimony possible as to his honesty and integrity. But having set up at shows with Kevin since 2004, and having conducted numerous deals of all kinds with him over the past 25 years, I'm happy to say that I have never seen or heard of a single instance in which he could be said to have done something dishonest or unethical. There's no doubt in my mind that everyone on this forum who has done any business with Kevin would say exactly the same thing about their experience with him and his business, Quality Autographs. If anyone has a disagreement with that statement, let's hear about it. It's always bothered me when someone posts to the effect that the entire business is dirty, corrupt, and dishonest. There is plenty of that, to be sure, just as in any arena where lots of money is at stake, and we need to do everything we can to clean up that part of it. But there are also lots of honest, hard-working people in this hobby, more than just a few, and Kevin is one of those.

And that brings me to the specific topic of the court exhibit E and it's list of supposed shill bidders. Based on Kevin's experience, clearly the methodology used by the U.S. Attorney's office to compile these names was not foolproof, and pulled in at least one individual who was doing nothing of the sort. So that begs the question: what can we say about the others on the list? In trying to make sense of what I see there, I would put the transactions listed in five categories:

1) Mastro consignments (including by "straw" companies and individuals) that were bid up by Mastro employees and direct associates. These are the most obviously fraudulent transactions.
2) Non-Mastro consignments bid up Mastro employees or direct associates. These can also be easily understood as an attempt to drive up the bidding and therefore the premiums collected by Mastro as a percentage of the hammer price.
3) Mastro consignments bid up by individuals NOT directly employed by or associated with Mastro. This is the group in which Kevin was included erroneously, so it needs to be determined which of these individuals were actually working on Mastro's behalf to shill bid, and which were not. It would also be instructive to know why these individuals were conspiring with Mastro for his benefit. What was the deal for them?
4) Non-Mastro consignments shill bid by individuals not associated with Mastro. There are instances on the list in which the same individual places bids on many or all of another individuals consignments. On it's face, this would seem to be a matter of consignors, not being able to bid on their own lots, having friends or associates shill bid for them. This brings up several questions, including a) was Mastro complicit in this consignor strategy, with higher premiums for them, or did these consignors act on their own? And b) what are the legal and ethical implications for the consignors, in both instances of conspiracy with Mastro or acting on their own?
5) There are numerous instances on the list that don't fit the patterns above for one reason or another, and which need to be explained so the individuals named don't get unjustifiably tarred with the same brush as the ones whose actions were illegal or unethical. It doesn't make sense to me that many individuals listed as shill bidders on a lot or two or several were involved in any kind of conspiracy with Mastro or with the consignors to drive up the prices on those lots, so what's the explanation for their inclusion on the list?

In general, it seems that, for the good of the hobby and of the individuals named, a complete accounting and explanation for every transaction listed is the only way, now that this list has seen the light of day, to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that we can all derive the benefit of that knowledge and move on from this tawdry affair. I must say I am surprised that many individuals named on the list have not taken the opportunity afforded by Net54 to explain their inclusion on it. Surely, Kevin Keating can't be the only one whose reputation has been tarnished unjustifiably by the publication of this information. It also seems incumbent on the U.S. Attorney, whose office is responsible for the unintended release of this document, to now come forward with an explanation for all of the information it contains.

It appears that you already had that statement prepared. After all, you posted it 6 minutes after Kevin's OP. If he didn't need or request any support from you, how did you know what he was going to say? Or are you just a fast reader and typist?

h2oya311
02-08-2016, 01:51 PM
It appears that you already had that statement prepared. After all, you posted it 6 minutes after Kevin's OP. If he didn't need or request any support from you, how did you know what he was going to say? Or are you just a fast reader and typist?

+1 - I was about to say the exact same thing...

regardless, it is a very interesting twist and I look forward to the members of this great forum poking holes in every statement. I also eagerly await every other accused to find a way to weasel into this same category (having an affiliation with M-L).

tazdmb
02-08-2016, 01:51 PM
Just so I understand-Kevin placed bids on 6 lots that he authenticated. Since this violated the COC of the auction house, which he claims he was not aware of, he was determined by the courts to be a shill bidder on all lots he placed bids on, even ones that he did not authenticate for the Auction House? I am not trying to judge what he did as right or wrong-just trying to understand what he is claiming.

bcornell
02-08-2016, 01:53 PM
[REMOVED] This forum is done.

btcarfagno
02-08-2016, 01:54 PM
It appears that you already had that statement prepared. After all, you posted it 6 minutes after Kevin's OP. If he didn't need or request any support from you, how did you know what he was going to say? Or are you just a fast reader and typist?

I remember someone in the huge thread regarding "the list" stating that more would come out and that we don't know everything there is to know yet. If that was Hankphenom who posted that, it means that he knew about this. And in seeing the explanation by Mr. Keating, I would find it completely understandable to have had this ready to go once Mr. Keating was ready to discuss it.

Edit: It was his post in the original thread.

Tom C

slidekellyslide
02-08-2016, 02:02 PM
I remember someone in the huge thread regarding "the list" stating that more would come out and that we don't know everything there is to know yet. If that was Hankphenom who posted that, it means that he knew about this. And in seeing the explanation by Mr. Keating, I would find it completely understandable to have had this ready to go once Mr. Keating was ready to discuss it.

Edit: It was his post in the original thread.

Tom C

Yes, that was Hank. I think this thread is fine as a stand alone thread, but I'm going to post a link to it in the other thread so that it can be referenced in the future.

vintagetoppsguy
02-08-2016, 02:07 PM
I remember someone in the huge thread regarding "the list" stating that more would come out and that we don't know everything there is to know yet. If that was Hankphenom who posted that, it means that he knew about this. And in seeing the explanation by Mr. Keating, I would find it completely understandable to have had this ready to go once Mr. Keating was ready to discuss it.

Edit: It was his post in the original thread.

Tom C

Yes, but Hank's opening statement is misleading, is it not? He states that Kevin doesn't need, nor requested any support from him. Maybe it is understandable to have the statement ready, but do you think they posted 6 minutes apart by accident? No, it was planned.

glchen
02-08-2016, 02:12 PM
Yes, but Hank's opening statement is misleading, is it not? He states that Kevin doesn't need, nor requested any support from him. Maybe it is understandable to have the statement ready, but do you think they posted 6 minutes apart by accident? No, it was planned.

David, what does any of this have to do with whether Kevin shilled or not? If you believe Kevin's reason on why he appeared on the list is not legit, go ahead and poke holes in it, but I don't think whatever Hank said is relevant.

vintagetoppsguy
02-08-2016, 02:15 PM
David, what does any of this have to do with whether Kevin shilled or not? If you believe Kevin's reason on why he appeared on the list is not legit, go ahead and poke holes in it, but I don't think whatever Hank said is relevant.

Because when somebody (Kevin) tells the truth, they usually don't need others with prepared statements to vouch for them. Or am I way off base here?

trobba
02-08-2016, 02:18 PM
Because when somebody (Kevin) tells the truth, they usually don't need others with prepared statements to vouch for them. Or am I way off base here?

I have no idea if you are off base or if it means anything, but I too noticed the lengthy, thought out response that was posted almost simultaneously as the OP.

Means absolutely nothing to me other than I noticed it and thought it was odd.

Rob G$the!l

glchen
02-08-2016, 02:19 PM
Because when somebody (Kevin) tells the truth, they usually don't need others with prepared statements to vouch for them. Or am I way off base here?

David, I don't mean to speak for Hank, and I have no idea what actually happened. However, if I had to guess, it probably went something like this where after Kevin appeared on the list, Hank contacted him to ask him what was going on. Kevin then probably told Hank privately what happened, but said he wanted to wait until Doug Allen was sentenced to publish it. Then as Hank saw Kevin get completely hammered in the list thread, he probably wrote his long post wanting to defend him, but then in the end, decided to just wait until Kevin posted this thread before he gave his response. Again, this is just my guess, as I have no idea what exactly happened, but it seems harmless to me.

autograf
02-08-2016, 02:58 PM
Well.....they set up together at the National, so they are intertwined to some extent. I think the explanation by Kevin is entirely plausible and think it's quite possible a similar situation exists for other people on that list. I know some people on that list have similar non-sports collections that I do/did and bid on some of those items. The problem exists where ANY employee of ANY auction house bids on ANY item in their own auction. It could always be thought of as somewhat fishy since it could truly be shilling or could be that employee just wanting to further their collection. Would need a deep-dive, forensic accounting of each lot and bidders to truly know what was shilling. And that won't likely happen for this narrow group of years.............

Runscott
02-08-2016, 03:26 PM
Well.....they set up together at the National, so they are intertwined to some extent.

I think Hank sincerely has the utmost respect for Kevin's integrity and skills.

Hankphenom
02-08-2016, 04:30 PM
David, I don't mean to speak for Hank, and I have no idea what actually happened. However, if I had to guess, it probably went something like this where after Kevin appeared on the list, Hank contacted him to ask him what was going on. Kevin then probably told Hank privately what happened, but said he wanted to wait until Doug Allen was sentenced to publish it. Then as Hank saw Kevin get completely hammered in the list thread, he probably wrote his long post wanting to defend him, but then in the end, decided to just wait until Kevin posted this thread before he gave his response. Again, this is just my guess, as I have no idea what exactly happened, but it seems harmless to me.

Bingo! In fact, I sent Kevin my prepared response to his post to look over, since he had talked to the DA at length and had as much inside information on the intricacies of the exhibit as anyone. He asked if perhaps I should wait a while after his post so it wouldn't look like some kind of team effort on his behalf--which it isn't--and my response was that I didn't care what anyone thought about it, I meant every word and had nothing to hide. Yes, I had read his statement before making my post. So what?

Hankphenom
02-08-2016, 04:40 PM
I think Hank sincerely has the utmost respect for Kevin's integrity and skills.

I've been around this hobby a long time, and I don't know anyone who doesn't. You can argue all you want about his business strategies (pricing, not selling autographs with TPA, etc.) and I can't tell you how many discussions he and I have had over the years about every aspect of the hobby. But there's two things nobody can argue with: he always has the best autographs in the room, and he never cuts corners with ethics and certainly not with legalities. If there's a shadow of a doubt about whether something is good or not, or about any aspect of a transaction, he will close the book on it, even if it costs him a lot of money. I've seen it happen more than once.

batsballsbases
02-08-2016, 05:09 PM
As some of you may know, though I rarely post comments, I am a Net 54 member and often read its discussions—especially regarding autograph-related topics. And hearing now that Doug Allen is sentenced, I would like to address the conversation of me which has taken place here over the last several days.

Exhibit E (“EE”) lists me as a “shill bidder” on 38 different Mastro-Legendary (“M-L”) lots during the period from December 2007 - February 2009. Despite what it says, the document’s assertion that I was a shill bidder is categorically untrue.

I have NEVER shill bid in a Mastro auction, Legendary auction, or any other auction.

There was, however, a reason why the government included my name in relation to those items. Here is what happened.

On six occasions from 2007-2008 M-L paid me to authenticate autograph material consigned to their auctions. Sometime during or before this period, M-L auctions instituted a written code of conduct (“COC”), see:

http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/mastro-issues-own-code-of-conduct/

According to paragraph 2 of its COC, M-L violated its own rules by accepting bids by me, one of its authenticators, on items they knew to be consigned by M-L or another party as defined in paragraph 2. This violation applied to the 38 lots in question, all of which I had bid on to win (succeeding on six), and all of which I am told were owned by an entity defined in COC, paragraph 2. Until the release of EE, I never knew the identities of the consignors of those items, or that my bid on any of those lots constituted a violation of any M-L rules. And I also did not know until last week that M-L was obligated under its COC to prohibit me from bidding on those lots.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed that it has absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item, and that these 38 lots were added to EE because M-L violated its own publically released rules (COC, paragraph 2) by their acceptance and inclusion of my bids on items they knew were owned by M-L, a M-L employee or a M-L affiliate – and not because of any wrongdoing by me.

Despite my desire to release this statement before now, I wanted to allow the final proceedings in the criminal case to conclude first. And it is my understanding that those ended today with Doug Allen’s sentencing.

I cannot speak to any situation but my own. But if any of you have questions regarding this matter as it relates to me, please post them here and I will do my best to answer them.

--Kevin Keating

Kevin,
I dont know you but I do know you have been around a long time. So for me it would go a long way if as you say, or was this a copy and paste " The U.S Attorneys office has confirmed that it had absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item" How do you know that? Did you call them and had a conversation with someone at the attorneys office saying so? Do you have a letter in writing sent to you that says You did nothing wrong and if so will you show the letter on net54? Is there some other way Im missing that you have been sent this info? email? Text? But if this is just he said she said stuff that you have proven nothing. sorry but doesnt fly with me show the proof than maybe others will believe you... Maybe then you should try and do what I have suggested that way its crystal clear to all..

Al S!@eo ne

nsaddict
02-08-2016, 05:22 PM
This is NOT directed at Kevin. But wondered, will anyone on "the list" actually come on here and state they're guilty and had a good run while it lasted? NO! However, anyone not commenting in any fashion will cast a shadow imo.

Runscott
02-08-2016, 05:56 PM
I've been around this hobby a long time, and I don't know anyone who doesn't. You can argue all you want about his business strategies (pricing, not selling autographs with TPA, etc.) and I can't tell you how many discussions he and I have had over the years about every aspect of the hobby. But there's two things nobody can argue with: he always has the best autographs in the room, and he never cuts corners with ethics and certainly not with legalities. If there's a shadow of a doubt about whether something is good or not, or about any aspect of a transaction, he will close the book on it, even if it costs him a lot of money. I've seen it happen more than once.

Hank, I just didn't want anyone thinking that you defended Kevin purely because of business interests. If another questionable autograph pops up, the people with autograph skills can discuss it once again. As this thread shows, and as past threads have shown, no one gets a free pass in this forum, and I believe that's the way it should be.

Tabe
02-08-2016, 06:08 PM
This is NOT directed at Kevin. But wondered, will anyone on "the list" actually come on here and state they're guilty and had a good run while it lasted? NO! However, anyone not commenting in any fashion will cast a shadow imo.

Well, at least one shiller/seller combo has already admitted what they did in the big thread.

nsaddict
02-08-2016, 06:20 PM
Yes, he was put on the hot seat more than I expected. And does deserve credit for coming forth.

batsballsbases
02-08-2016, 06:32 PM
Kevin,
In post 20 I asked you a few questions, Its been an hour and a half since I asked. I know you have read it and as you say in Post 1 " But if any of you have questions regarding this matter as it relates to me please post them here and I will do my best to answer" WELL?

Tennis13
02-08-2016, 07:12 PM
Kevin,
In post 20 I asked you a few questions, Its been an hour and a half since I asked. I know you have read it and as you say in Post 1 " But if any of you have questions regarding this matter as it relates to me please post them here and I will do my best to answer" WELL?

I guess to further this discussion: On the CLCT earnings call last week (you can check the transcript) I asked your CEO if they had done any internal investigations on you and the two other Board of Experts mentioned in this report, and he said Mastro was in the past. Have you had any discussions with an internal quality control team at all?

Transcript below:

Okay and then my last question would be along the line of the experts in the graders. Doug Allen document that was filed last week, have you guys done any sort of internal reviews, are you planning any kind of internal or do you see that three of your members of that expert grading board were mentioned did not report.

Robert G. Deuster

I'm not that familiar with the report, you are talking about. Are you talking about our advisors or grader?

Scott Kurtis

[Technical Difficulty] the maestro options

Robert G. Deuster

Well that's an old case, of course it's a high profile case. I thought, you were talking about coins. Pardon me. I'm sure they got reference because they are staff that we had and still have, but they are certainly not implicated in anything and so it's not really an important consideration on our plate right now. That's just a case that’s continuing on. So I really can't add much to it beyond what I guess was printed, but I haven't seen what you are referring to directly.

xplainer
02-08-2016, 08:05 PM
It appears that you already had that statement prepared. After all, you posted it 6 minutes after Kevin's OP. If he didn't need or request any support from you, how did you know what he was going to say? Or are you just a fast reader and typist?

Keen eye and exactly right. Nice pick up there. No way he typed his post within seven minutes of the OP. No way sir.

Duluth Eskimo
02-08-2016, 08:21 PM
I don't know Hank, but like many of you I received the email from Kevin. I don't know Kevin, but have met him a number of times and have followed his business for many years. I have never heard a bad word about the guy other than people disagree with his pricing. I have never heard anyone say anything about his integrity and I have never seen him associated with a "bad" autograph. His explanation sounds completely legit and waiting to release a statement when he knew the facts is exactly what I would have done if in that situation. Bottom line, count me as one who believes him. Nuff ced. Jason

botn
02-08-2016, 08:22 PM
Keen eye and exactly right. Nice pick up there. No way he typed his post within seven minutes of the OP. No way sir.

Correct. Hank addresses this in post 18 on this thread at 2:30 today.

Jason
02-08-2016, 08:24 PM
You can't write fiction this good. Prepared response, what's next? Good catch David.

xplainer
02-08-2016, 08:36 PM
As some of you may know, though I rarely post comments, I am a Net 54 member and often read its discussions—especially regarding autograph-related topics. And hearing now that Doug Allen is sentenced, I would like to address the conversation of me which has taken place here over the last several days.

Exhibit E (“EE”) lists me as a “shill bidder” on 38 different Mastro-Legendary (“M-L”) lots during the period from December 2007 - February 2009. Despite what it says, the document’s assertion that I was a shill bidder is categorically untrue.

I have NEVER shill bid in a Mastro auction, Legendary auction, or any other auction.

There was, however, a reason why the government included my name in relation to those items. Here is what happened.

On six occasions from 2007-2008 M-L paid me to authenticate autograph material consigned to their auctions. Sometime during or before this period, M-L auctions instituted a written code of conduct (“COC”), see:

http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/mastro-issues-own-code-of-conduct/

According to paragraph 2 of its COC, M-L violated its own rules by accepting bids by me, one of its authenticators, on items they knew to be consigned by M-L or another party as defined in paragraph 2. This violation applied to the 38 lots in question, all of which I had bid on to win (succeeding on six), and all of which I am told were owned by an entity defined in COC, paragraph 2. Until the release of EE, I never knew the identities of the consignors of those items, or that my bid on any of those lots constituted a violation of any M-L rules. And I also did not know until last week that M-L was obligated under its COC to prohibit me from bidding on those lots.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed that it has absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item, and that these 38 lots were added to EE because M-L violated its own publically released rules (COC, paragraph 2) by their acceptance and inclusion of my bids on items they knew were owned by M-L, a M-L employee or a M-L affiliate – and not because of any wrongdoing by me.

Despite my desire to release this statement before now, I wanted to allow the final proceedings in the criminal case to conclude first. And it is my understanding that those ended today with Doug Allen’s sentencing.

I cannot speak to any situation but my own. But if any of you have questions regarding this matter as it relates to me, please post them here and I will do my best to answer them.

--Kevin Keating

OK, I don't know Kevin and this is not a prepared response. But if I understand him, he was paid to authenticate some items, then he bid on some of those items (38 lots), but did not know about the internal Memo prohibiting those bids by M-L. M-L accepted those bids (and used them as shills) and he knew nothing was wrong until in the last few weeks.

Actually, I believe him. No being smart. If he didn't know, then he didn't know.

But, let's test this. Are there any authenticators out there that bid on items they have worked? Or, is there an understanding that family and friends are excluded from bidding on items. Not trying to hang him just want some others to verify the standard practice.

begsu1013
02-08-2016, 08:59 PM
no dog in this fight and no clue about keating's past/present/future.

couldn't even pick him out in a line up. furthermore, i have taken absolutely zero time to look at who consigned the items in which he is listed as shilling and if there is any relation. and if i did, i still wouldn't be able to tell you jack schmidt...

however, if he is an authenticator (apparently autographs?) wouldn't that tend to give more him more credibility to his authenticating skills?

who would risk getting stuck w/ some items that didn't pass muster?



i could only imagine being such and looking at some of the remarkable sh!t that came across my desk. it'd only be natural to want some of that stuff....

again, i'm an idiot. i'm sure there are several hole punchers that can poke holes in my thought process. please, do your best...

this is no excuse for not knowing the rules however, it appears as the rules and even laws were the last thing on the minds of maestro/allen and they certainly weren't going to enforce them.

still "rules is rules" though.

drcy
02-08-2016, 09:30 PM
I wouldn't bid on anything I authenticated for an auction house, but that's my personal rule. However, I'm not a dealer or even a collector, so it's not a hard rule to follow.

It does, however, say something if an authenticator is willing to buy what he okayed.

vintagetoppsguy
02-08-2016, 09:59 PM
Kevin,

You say you did not know about the COC rule until last week. Who informed you of the COC rule, the government? And if the government knew about the COC rule and that you did no wrong, why did they include your name on the list in the first place?

Jantz
02-08-2016, 10:43 PM
Kevin,

You say you did not know about the COC rule until last week. Who informed you of the COC rule, the government? And if the government knew about the COC rule and that you did no wrong, why did they include your name on the list in the first place?

Not a jab at you David, just something for all of us to consider.

When was the last time our government got involved in anything that they didn't screw up?

That question is why I never posted in the thread about Leon's P&S.

It is also the same question that kept me from posting in the shill list thread.

Runscott
02-08-2016, 11:55 PM
Or, is there an understanding that family and friends are excluded from bidding on items. Not trying to hang him just want some others to verify the standard practice.

Seriously?

Those who cheat are never going to admit that cheating is standard practice.

Runscott
02-09-2016, 12:08 AM
It does, however, say something if an authenticator is willing to buy what he okayed.

It says something if he is willing to bid it up.

Higher prices make the authentication company look better. Given all the people who shilled the Mastro auctions for monetary gain, I don't understand why it is implausible that TPA employees would shill up their company's authenticated items for the same reason.

Spahn21
02-09-2016, 12:29 AM
Hi Al,

Thanks for sharing your concerns with me. Pardon my delay but I had to eat dinner with my family, put my children to bed, make a few phone calls, and do a few other things so I am only getting to your question now as I wanted to wait until I could give it the attention it deserves.

Yes, I did hire an attorney: William Coffield (of Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, LLP Washington, DC, ). My attorney spoke directly with the FBI and multiple times with the U.S. Attorney's Office. My lawyer has advised me that I do not need a written statement because the U.S. Attorney's Office in charge of the case approved my statement last week. And I’m confident they would corroborate my statement again if you wish to contact them.

This entire episode began for me on Sunday, January 31. I had just returned from a family vacation and put our children to bed. It was about 10:30 at night when I was clearing through emails that had piled up while gone and came upon the one I have copied (verbatim) below from a friend who is also the owner of an auction company and here is what he wrote, in its entirety (save for his name at the end):

Hey Kevin,

Hope all is well with you. Information came out in Doug Allen's sentencing regarding shill bidding. Your name is on a spreadsheet that is circulating on the internet. It makes no sense that you would do something like this, you were probably just bidding. I wanted (you-sic) to be aware of this so you can correct it.

Needless to say, as someone who has NEVER shill bid in any auction, I was more than stunned at the information before me which I was doing my best to process. I spoke with my attorney the first thing the next morning and we immediately began fact-finding to determine what the list was, what purpose it served, and most importantly (to me, anyway): how was it that my name had been added as a “shill bidder”???

My lawyer started making phone calls while I researched the 38 lots. Fortunately, the Legendary website remains operational and I was able to find every lot in question in their on-line archives. While I did not remember seeing everything before (this was 7-8 years ago), I did recall some.

But what was apparent to me was that these were all lots I would have bid on if given a chance.

After that I went to the spreadsheet on Exhibit E and, using a “Control F” search, I consolidated all the entries of my name so that I could evaluate that data more easily.

With all the information on a single page, a few things jumped out at me and raised some additional questions:

1) At first, I did not know who “Historical Collectibles” were. But once I learned that it was a M-L “Shell company”, I realized that everything attributed to me was, in fact, owned by M-L or someone I knew to be a M-L employee, (with one possible exception—Lot 949 in the December 2008 auction);

2) How could I—or anyone—be accused of shill bidding on seven lots I had won—especially when all seven were owned by someone else?

3) How could anyone—in this case, me—be accused of shill bidding on two lots they did not own and for which the loss amount attributed to the shill bidding is ZERO? (see lots 107 & 426 from the August 2008 auction). What's the point on shill bidding something for no monetary gain???

4) The total “loss amount” assessed to the 38 lots comes to $20, 437, an average of $537.81/lot (and twelve of the lots were assigned a loss value of $100 or less each). But I had bid on hundreds of M-L lots during that same, two-year period, so why were these 38 lots selected for inclusion and the hundreds of others were not?

And besides knowing that I had never shill bid, I also knew that in all the discussions I have had with the FBI about the M-L and other investigations, I have never been questioned in any way to suggest that I was ever suspected of complicity in any unethical or criminal behavior. And I have never been asked to provide grand jury testimony, either.

Considering all this and the questions which I had derived from my spreadsheet analysis, I concluded that the only explanation for my inclusion on the list was that M-L had used my account somehow without my knowledge to execute some of its shilling activity--and that use was attributed to me when this list was prepared.

But that presumption was incorrect, and in one of my lawyer’s conversations with the government we were informed that the reason for my inclusion was simply that M-L had violated its own self-imposed code of conduct (COC) under paragraph 2, which prohibits authenticators and others who worked for the auction house from bidding on lots owned by M-L employees. As a stated policy, M-L was therefore obligated to prevent me from bidding on items they or their employees owned. And of course, because no one but M-L had access to information that would identify lot ownership, only M-L could enforce that policy—and, at least in my case, they chose not to do so and let me bid both unwittingly and in good faith on those lots.

Thus, for the purposes of assessing damages, which was the intent I am told, of Exhibit E, the effect of both a shill bid and a prohibited bid (as is the case of my bids) is the same to the lot winner because both bids will theoretically result in a higher end price for the winning bidder. And this list was prepared to look at the monetary damage assessment, a.k.a., "loss amounts." And, in my case, when compiling the list my name was co-mingled with others since no distinction was made between bids that were executed in good faith like mine (but were prohibited by M-L rules) and those that were actual shill bids.

These are the facts. I realize that they may not be enough to satisfy everyone but my goal is not to please everyone or to make everyone like me--I think I gave up on that goal back in kindergarten! My goal is simply to present the facts--convoluted as they are--in a coherent, logical way so that they may be readily understood. If I can achieve that, I am confident that fair-minded people will conclude that I did nothing wrong.

Again, thanks Al for asking your question—Kevin K.

drcy
02-09-2016, 12:32 AM
Higher prices make the authentication company look better. Given all the people who shilled the Mastro auctions for monetary gain, I don't understand why it is implausible that TPA employees would shill up their company's authenticated items for the same reason.

I actually hadn't thought of that angle. But, as I said, my personal rule is I wouldn't bid on anything I authenticated-- to steer way clear of any perception or even misperception of conflict of interest or whatever. That you were able to just come up with a new reason I hadn't thought of why not to bid is exactly why I wouldn't bid.

I think the entire authentication and grading aspect of the hobby is messed up on many fronts, which is why I don't participate in that. I used to write a few LOAs here and there (not suggesting there was great demand) and almost solely for collectors, but quit. That's no commentary on Kevin, as I have no special insight on his situation and have no reason to doubt what he says-- and I've never dealt with autographs. I just think that the ways things are set up, and the expectations of the hobby visa vie people giving opinions, is mixed up.

I did archiving for a historical museum and discovered they had no interest or knowledge what items were worth and had never sold a thing. The executive director was surprised when I pointed out that some of their items had market value, and another person there said she didn't think they were even legally allowed to sell anything. All they cared about was the items being accurately identified and described for their records. How refreshing, I thought. The museum's archiving system had its own set of annoying peculiarities, but maximizing resale value wasn't one of them.

Spahn21
02-09-2016, 12:55 AM
Kevin,

You say you did not know about the COC rule until last week. Who informed you of the COC rule, the government? And if the government knew about the COC rule and that you did no wrong, why did they include your name on the list in the first place?

Hi David (I presume?)--

Thanks for your question.

In short, yes, the government told us last week about the code of conduct (COC) and the fact that the inclusion of the 38 lots with my name was the result of Mastro-Legendary's violation of its COC, paragraph 2--which Mastro-Legendary was obligated to enforce. Had they enforced that rule, then my bids should have been prohibited; and had my bids been prohibited, then the end result, i.e., end sale price would not have been as high as it was for those lots (same impact as a shill bid) -- and so, for purposes of determining "loss values", which I am told was the purpose of Exhibit E, the end result -- a higher price to the buyer -- is the same whether the bid is shilled or a prohibited bid (like mine). But, 1) owing to the purpose of Exhibit E -- to assess the monetary damages to lot winners/buyers -- and 2) the fact that the document was intended for internal use only for the court (and not to be released), no distinction was made on the list between shill bids and bids like mine -- or at least the bids I made on those 38 lots which M-L should have prohibited ( I can't speak to bids assigned to others).

It is my understanding that document EE is now redacted, but I'm not positive on that.

Also, I did just issue a more lengthy post which I believe also answers your above questions and in more detail, too. But if not, or if you have others, please pass them on and I'll do my best to answer them.

Thanks, David--Kevin K.

Runscott
02-09-2016, 12:58 AM
I actually hadn't thought of that angle. But, as I said, my personal rule is I wouldn't bid on anything I authenticated-- to steer way clear of any perception or even misperception of conflict of interest or whatever. And marketing has never been my strong point :)

Your integrity is why your name isn't on any shill lists.

drcy
02-09-2016, 01:20 AM
A funny story from the museum is I was cataloging a bunch of photos (a painstaking process at a museum) and at the end of the day I asked the head archivist if I could take them home with me to continue work on them at home. She said "I've worked at museums for twenty five years, and you're the first person to ever ask that question." She said she didn't know what was the rule, but said that if I had taken them home and returned with them the next day probably no one would have noticed.

Another funny story is the head archivist was 76 and, shall we say, not computer savvy. I was researching several mystery donations and she was amazed at all the information I found out about them. She said "How'd you get all that information?" and I said "Wikipedia."

ElCabron
02-09-2016, 01:28 AM
Kevin,

Thanks for responding. Pretty much all of that makes sense to me, particularly this:


Thus, for the purposes of assessing damages, which was the intent I am told, of Exhibit E, the effect of both a shill bid and a prohibited bid (as is the case of my bids) is the same to the lot winner because both bids will theoretically result in a higher end price for the winning bidder. And this list was prepared to look at the monetary damage assessment, a.k.a., "loss amounts." And, in my case, when compiling the list my name was co-mingled with others since no distinction was made between bids that were executed in good faith like mine (but were prohibited by M-L rules) and those that were actual shill bids.


So your inclusion on the list makes some sense for the purposes of assessing damages if they're saying your bids shouldn't have been allowed, thereby making the impact of your bids basically equivalent to a shill bid. But there really should have been an asterisk or something, clarifying that while your bids were (unknowingly to you) basically the equivalent to shill bids, YOU were not a shill bidder. It's unfortunate that the list was released the way it was because the list was not put together with the idea that it would go public. If it was, I think your inclusion would have been clarified. My sense is that it was more for the purposes of assessing damages, and more geared toward the specific targets of the case (Mastro and Allen) which is why your 38 lots would appear on the list. Whether or not you did anything wrong on those lots wasn't even the point. The point was that Allen and Mastro did. I imagine your case is pretty unique as far as the list goes, though. Those are pretty specific circumstances due to the authentication side of it.

This is the exact reason why anyone who feels they do not belong on the list should be loudly posting about it here. There's zero reason not to. In fact, it's the best possible way to clear your name. Unless you're guilty.

-Ryan

ErikV
02-09-2016, 03:38 AM
I'm a little confused as to why Kevin is taking any heat at all. Here it's become
clear that M+L has been running a scandalous operation. They have been found
guilty in a court of law and are being sentenced for their crimes. On the other hand,
Mr. Keating has been forthright in wanting to clear his name. He's emailed all of his
customers (I also received his email) explaining his side of the story. He's come on
the board and has answered all questions presented to him. Between M+L having
the reputation and court conviction of criminal activity, their word is worthless.
It would not surprise me that they did something like this behind a customers back.
In M+L "poisoning the well" along with having several prior dealings with Mr. Keating,
this is slam-dunk case for me. I believe Mr. Keating 100%.

ErikV

Spahn21
02-09-2016, 07:30 AM
Yesterday, I released two statements. One is posted here, and the other was sent to my email-subscriber (E-S) list.

The “guts” of both are the same, though I necessarily provided more background information to my E-S list knowing that many there would be reading this story for the first time, and necessarily needed greater context.

I made my last posts on Net 54 at around 2:00 am this morning before finally going to bed. Now that I am up again with some coffee in me, I have re-read those posts, and I want to clarify one thing.

Where I say:

"My lawyer has advised me that I do not need a written statement because the U.S. Attorney's Office in charge of the case approved my statement last week."

I am referring to this statement:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed that it has absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item, and that these 38 lots were added to EE because M-L violated its own publically released rules (COC, paragraph 2) by their acceptance and inclusion of my bids on items they knew were owned by M-L, a M-L employee or a M-L affiliate – and not because of any wrongdoing by me.”

I was NOT referring to the full body of the Net 54 post or the email that I sent to my E-S list. I realize that this clarification is unnecessary for most, but I want to be crystal clear to everyone, as to what exact "statement" I am referring to.

vintagetoppsguy
02-09-2016, 07:34 AM
Hi David (I presume?)--

Thanks for your question.

In short, yes, the government told us last week about the code of conduct (COC) and the fact that the inclusion of the 38 lots with my name was the result of Mastro-Legendary's violation of its COC, paragraph 2--which Mastro-Legendary was obligated to enforce. Had they enforced that rule, then my bids should have been prohibited; and had my bids been prohibited, then the end result, i.e., end sale price would not have been as high as it was for those lots (same impact as a shill bid) -- and so, for purposes of determining "loss values", which I am told was the purpose of Exhibit E, the end result -- a higher price to the buyer -- is the same whether the bid is shilled or a prohibited bid (like mine). But, 1) owing to the purpose of Exhibit E -- to assess the monetary damages to lot winners/buyers -- and 2) the fact that the document was intended for internal use only for the court (and not to be released), no distinction was made on the list between shill bids and bids like mine -- or at least the bids I made on those 38 lots which M-L should have prohibited ( I can't speak to bids assigned to others).

It is my understanding that document EE is now redacted, but I'm not positive on that.

Also, I did just issue a more lengthy post which I believe also answers your above questions and in more detail, too. But if not, or if you have others, please pass them on and I'll do my best to answer them.

Thanks, David--Kevin K.

Kevin,

Thank you for the explanation. For what it's worth, I believe you. However, I don't think Hank's statement lent any credibility to your opening post for 2 reasons (1) the timing of his response and (2) that he prefaced his statement with "Kevin...doesn't need, nor has he requested, any support from me." Although he didn't say it, that sort of implies that you didn't know he was going to make his statement when actually the two of you collaborated together on it. Had Hank not posted, I never would have questioned your OP, but when Hank's (obviously prepared) statement immediately followed yours, it sure looks suspicious. Your statement could have stood on it's own without any help. Again, all that said, I do believe you and thank you again for coming on here and telling your side - it's a lot more than some people have done.

Regards,

David

batsballsbases
02-09-2016, 07:37 AM
Kevin,
Thankyou for your post it does clear up some points as to why your name appears 38 times on the list. So far you are one of the few that at least has a believable explanation. I hope all works out for you ....

brob28
02-09-2016, 08:28 AM
Yesterday, I released two statements. One is posted here, and the other was sent to my email-subscriber (E-S) list.

The “guts” of both are the same, though I necessarily provided more background information to my E-S list knowing that many there would be reading this story for the first time, and necessarily needed greater context.

I made my last posts on Net 54 at around 2:00 am this morning before finally going to bed. Now that I am up again with some coffee in me, I have re-read those posts, and I want to clarify one thing.

Where I say:

"My lawyer has advised me that I do not need a written statement because the U.S. Attorney's Office in charge of the case approved my statement last week."

I am referring to this statement:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has confirmed that it has absolutely no evidence that I shill bid on any item, and that these 38 lots were added to EE because M-L violated its own publically released rules (COC, paragraph 2) by their acceptance and inclusion of my bids on items they knew were owned by M-L, a M-L employee or a M-L affiliate – and not because of any wrongdoing by me.”

I was NOT referring to the full body of the Net 54 post or the email that I sent to my E-S list. I realize that this clarification is unnecessary for most, but I want to be crystal clear to everyone, as to what exact "statement" I am referring to.

Kevin,

I know you're not asking for advice but I really think you should have another discussion with your attorney about getting something in writing from the DA. I do not know you, and I'm sure like many have posted your a man of integrity - that being the case I would work tirelessly to get something in writing that proves my innocence if I were you. Not saying your story is not true, but if I were on that list for the reasons you are I would want something better than my attorney saying I don't need something in writing, after all doubts could affect your future business. Conversely, if I were on this list (I'm not) and had shilled, I would now use the same or similar reasoning you did particularly if people in the hobby accepted an explanation without proof. Again, not attacking but I cannot understand why & think its a mistake for you to not get something in writing.

Runscott
02-09-2016, 09:57 AM
This is the exact reason why anyone who feels they do not belong on the list should be loudly posting about it here. There's zero reason not to. In fact, it's the best possible way to clear your name. Unless you're guilty.

-Ryan

Ryan, obviously this is just my personal opinion, but I don't think innocent people should have to explain their presence on that list - I certainly would NOT if my name were on it. The list was described in a thread here as a "list (of criminals)" - if everyone on the list is NOT a criminal, then the thread title should be changed. And if the document with the list actually describes people in the list as criminals, or even insinuates that they are criminals, when they are not, then whoever created or issued the list should be held accountable.

That's just my opinion - I understand yours as well. Perhaps if I saw my name on the list I would respond quickly in anger, just prior to asking Leon to end my subscription.

Hankphenom
02-09-2016, 10:24 AM
Kevin,

Thank you for the explanation. For what it's worth, I believe you. However, I don't think Hank's statement lent any credibility to your opening post for 2 reasons (1) the timing of his response and (2) that he prefaced his statement with "Kevin...doesn't need, nor has he requested, any support from me." Although he didn't say it, that sort of implies that you didn't know he was going to make his statement when actually the two of you collaborated together on it. Had Hank not posted, I never would have questioned your OP, but when Hank's (obviously prepared) statement immediately followed yours, it sure looks suspicious. Your statement could have stood on it's own without any help. Again, all that said, I do believe you and thank you again for coming on here and telling your side - it's a lot more than some people have done.

Regards,

David

How could my post look suspicious to you when everything was laid out in it, including up front my very close relationship with Kevin? His reputation had been tarnished, and I wanted to vouch for him, simple as that. According to your way of thinking, it would have been less suspicious had I waited seven posts into the thread before coming in? That's exactly why I DIDN'T do that. And there was no "collaboration" on my statement, as you put it. Kevin never asked for it, nor did he ask for any changes to be made. I showed it to him primarily to get his input on my breakdown of the list into different categories of offense, not in any way to get his approval of my comments about him. "Kevin...doesn't need, nor has he requested, any support from me" is the truth, nothing more or less complicated than that.

vintagetoppsguy
02-09-2016, 11:07 AM
Hank, I certainly didn't mean that as a personal attack on you. Simply put, the truth can stand on it's own - it doesn't need confirmation.

I understand why you did it, he's your buddy. The timing of your post just looked suspicious as it was a prepared statement.

h2oya311
02-09-2016, 11:46 AM
Kevin -

Thanks for coming forward with a logical explanation for your inclusion on "the list". Any other COC Paragraph 2 "offenders", please feel free to jump in now that Kevin has paved the way...perhaps Kevin's situation is unique, but there are still many on the list that have remained silent.

Kudos to Kevin and his lawyer for good detective work. I hope you are able to get something in writing from the U.S. Attorney's Office to make your defense iron-clad.

Runscott
02-09-2016, 11:54 AM
..., but there are still many on the list that have remained silent.

Thankfully that is true.

You might have more fun by judging each one of them individually in their own thread.

slidekellyslide
02-09-2016, 11:59 AM
Hank, I certainly didn't mean that as a personal attack on you. Simply put, the truth can stand on it's own - it doesn't need confirmation.

I understand why you did it, he's your buddy. The timing of your post just looked suspicious as it was a prepared statement.

It did not look suspicious to me since he had posted that more info was coming soon in the other thread. I just assumed he had it ready to go and was waiting for the right time to release it.

whitehse
02-09-2016, 12:12 PM
Hank, I certainly didn't mean that as a personal attack on you. Simply put, the truth can stand on it's own - it doesn't need confirmation.

I understand why you did it, he's your buddy. The timing of your post just looked suspicious as it was a prepared statement.

When I saw Hank's response my mind went back to his cryptic message on the "other" thread about more information to come and assumed he was finally saying what he knew to be true but could not do so before. I never gave one single thought as to how quickly he posted because I just assumed he had that all pre-written anyway which was no big deal.

I, for one am happy he posted because I would have been left hanging wondering what this additional information he indicated would be coming out of this mess really was.

Spahn21
02-09-2016, 02:18 PM
Hi David,

Thank you for your candor and for allowing me the opportunity to address your concern—I have not spoken with Hank today but I see that he has posted a response to you already…and just to be clear, I never asked Hank to write a statement on my behalf. In fact, I have refrained from asking anyone (unless you included my lawyer) to intervene on my behalf – either here on Net 54 or anywhere else -- including Hank.

I have had dozens of people contact me over the past many days to offer themselves as character witnesses, but as I have stated before, I want the facts to speak for themselves. I realize the truth of what happened to me may not be enough to satisfy everyone but I remain confident that fair-minded people who take the time to read through the story and its convolutions will conclude that I did nothing wrong—Kevin K.

Spahn21
02-09-2016, 02:32 PM
Bill,

Thank you for your suggestion. It may interest you to know that my lawyer also released my statement yesterday to Michael O’Keefe of the New York Daily News and I believe he has already published it there (online, I think).

I understand that O’Keefe is also reporting that Exhibit E has now been "redacted", but not sure what that means, at this point....

--Kevin K.

Mark17
02-09-2016, 03:01 PM
Kevin,
Thanks for clearing this up regarding your appearance on the list. Makes perfect sense to me. I also think it adds to the integrity of your authentication service, that you would want to bid in a competitive auction for something you say is genuine.

It's guaranteeing your service : "I stand by my authentication, in fact, I'll buy it myself at a price higher than what others will pay."

There are OTHER scenarios where an authenticator could pull off something shady, like under grading an item to buy it cheap, over grading an item to re-sell it, and so on, but what you did is tell the world these items were genuine and then you backed it up with real money, attempting to acquire them yourself.

Not only is this not doing anything wrong, I think it should accrue to your credit.

I also think you handled the situation well in waiting for your lawyer to get things straightened out before posting here. That was just plain smart.

When that list first came out and the predictable lynch mob started forming, my first thought was this: If for some reason I was on the list (I wasn't and would not have been) the first thing I'd do is talk to an attorney, tell him everything I could recall about my dealings with that AH, and then decide if he was the right attorney for me.

I'd choose my attorney based on his initial advice. Guess which of these two bits of advice I'd consider to be best:

1. "Let me look into this and I'll let you know what I find out and we can go from there. For now, keep your mouth shut."

2. "I'll look into it. Meanwhile, I recommend you go to every internet blog and chat room you can find, and blab your head off about it."


What I'm saying is, I'll bet there are lots of other innocent people on that list who are remaining quiet on advice from an attorney, and I am also saying that would be the smart thing to do.

People are being sentenced to multiple years in federal prison... this isn't something to be sloppy about for those inadvertently caught up by it.

forazzurri2axz
02-09-2016, 03:34 PM
I believe he was sentenced to 57 months in prison

ValKehl
02-09-2016, 10:57 PM
I know who Kevin Keating is, but I have never had any dealings with him, and I'm not sure that I've ever conversed with him

However, I have known Hank Thomas for many, many years and have had many conversations and dealings with him. And it is my belief that NO ONE in this hobby of ours has A HIGHER LEVEL OF INTEGRITY than Hank Thomas.

Val Kehl

Hankphenom
02-10-2016, 07:11 PM
I know who Kevin Keating is, but I have never had any dealings with him, and I'm not sure that I've ever conversed with him

However, I have known Hank Thomas for many, many years and have had many conversations and dealings with him. And it is my belief that NO ONE in this hobby of ours has A HIGHER LEVEL OF INTEGRITY than Hank Thomas.

Val Kehl

Thanks, my friend. And if I ever heard that Val Kehl had ever done anything the slightest bit dirty, I would immediately lose whatever faith I had in mankind, or at least in my ability to tell the good guys from the bad!

bcawly
02-10-2016, 07:38 PM
I sent the following email to Kevin Keating on February 9 after a review of Exhibit E and his response to the matter. Exhibit E standing alone does not disclose how the government's investigation confirmed collusion among specific parties to shill bid, it does clearly show the conflicted inter-party transactions that exist between the auction houses and those that do business with them.

There is the need for more transparent and verifiable auction practices and controls to detect and prevent shill bidding along the line I presented in my email to Kevin Keating that follows. It is my opinion, that there is a clear need for the major auction firms to step up and address this issue to ensure the integrity of their business practices. I stand behind my comments to Mr. Keating.

Bob Cawly



Re: Mastro-Legendary Auction's Shill Bidding Report Response
From Robert H. Cawly
To qualityautographs qualityautographs@msn.com

Kevin

Just let me say that after reviewing Exhibit E, it appears to me that you were also a victim of the shill bidding and that your bidding patterns were customary with many dealers and collectors that desire to take an early position on a number of lots to hold a place in extended bidding. In any event, the infraction is one of RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS which make you ineligible to bid. The more appropriate classification would be "Bids by Ineligible Bidders" as opposed to calling them all shill bids.

While the effect is the same as placing a shill bid, the implications are completely different. All reputable auction houses should post a list of Related Parties and make known the Related Party Policies which would include auction house employees, and employees of subcontractors, authentication firms and other related companies.

The real issues reside with the business practices of the auction firms. It is up to the auction house to enforce its own rules, not the bidders. The prudent auction house would have each auction overseen by an well known and reputable independent accountant that would oversee the bidding process, and audit the auction records. This one step would clearly establish what auction firms are interested in restoring honesty and integrity to our hobby and care about their firm's credibility. The expense of such a process would clearly be affordable and a sound investment.

Knowing of your credentials and reputation for integrity from people in the industry and notably fellow UACC members, let me express my full confidence in your response in this matter.

Robert H Cawly, CPA
UACC RD326

prewarsports
02-10-2016, 08:35 PM
Kevin is one of the first big guys in the hobby that treated me fairly and honestly when I was a young man getting started in the hobby. I would go to shows in my early 20's and other big dealers would not even bother to stop and show me a card in their cases, while Kevin was very personable and for that I have always respected him. Getting to know him more over the years and having numerous encounters with him, I always thought he was one of the more respectable people in the hobby. It is not surprising to me at all there is a rational explanation for his name being on the list. I am happy he was able to clear the air.

Rhys Yeakley

jimjim
04-06-2016, 09:54 AM
Not to drag up an old thread, but I was just on Kevin's website and I was surprised on his prices. He is charging 2-3x the going rate for most items. Do people actually pay his prices? I know he is one of the best in the hobby, but am not going to pay a premium for living modern day players.

Duluth Eskimo
04-06-2016, 10:19 AM
Then don't pay it. You don't need to tell anyone you are not going to do it. People can charge whatever the hell they want for stuff. When it's your stuff, you can do what you want with it.

Hankphenom
04-06-2016, 11:11 AM
Then don't pay it. You don't need to tell anyone you are not going to do it. People can charge whatever the hell they want for stuff. When it's your stuff, you can do what you want with it.

+1

jimjim
04-06-2016, 11:36 AM
I get it. You guys are dealers and you guys are friends with Kevin. I fully understand that you're defending him and all dealers. However, I was just wondering how a person so highly respected in the hobby can offer prices that are not competitive. That is my only question. I am sorry if I insulted anyone.

ALR-bishop
04-06-2016, 01:08 PM
Maybe he is colluding with Levi and Dean to keep all their prices high so no one will buy anything and bring the hobby to a standstill.

drmondobueno
04-06-2016, 01:13 PM
Deleted

Hankphenom
04-06-2016, 01:14 PM
I get it. You guys are deslers and you guys are friends with Kevin. I fully understand that you're defending him and all dealers. However, I was just wondering how a person so highly respected in the hobby can offer prices that are not competitive. That is my only question. I am sorry if I insulted anyone.

Insulted? Where did you get that? And I don't see any defense of Kevin or "all dealers" in our responses. Where did you find those, exactly? The real question is: what's YOUR point? All collectors find what they perceive to be overpriced items everywhere they turn. Ebay, Online stores, shows, auctions, etc. So you don't buy them, simple as that. Have you ever told a dealer at a show that his stuff is overpriced? I didn't think so. Why bother? It's his business. I'm not an autograph guy, so I can't speak to Kevin's prices specifically, but I will tell you this. He's been the biggest vintage sports autograph dealer in the country for many years, and probably the most successful in dollar volume. I set up with him at the National each year, and he's swamped doing business from beginning to end. As for his website, he's had a full-time employee whose only job is handling that part of the operation for the last 25 years, so I'm guessing that does pretty well, too. I have this suggestion for you: give Kevin a call. He loves to talk about every aspect of the hobby, and he will be happy to explain anything you want to discuss, from hobby pricing in general to any individual autograph you might ask about. Maybe you'll both learn something.

steve B
04-06-2016, 01:25 PM
I get it. You guys are deslers and you guys are friends with Kevin. I fully understand that you're defending him and all dealers. However, I was just wondering how a person so highly respected in the hobby can offer prices that are not competitive. That is my only question. I am sorry if I insulted anyone.

I don't think it's entirely how you're putting it.

For a dealer who has stuff that's "right" or in other words trusted to not be fake, some of the higher costs are related to the cost of replacing the inventory. The few autographs I've ever sold went for the going rate for what they were. Once popular football players who signed at shows, 8x10s with no certs but the show flyers and auto tickets. Originally $25, and it wasn't clear if that included the cost of the photo. Both sold for about the cost of an unsigned photo, which was typical. I was happy with that price.

But if I was a full time dealer? I'd have asked probably a bit more than 2-3x the going rate. Because I would have a need to keep those commons in inventory, and I'd have to pay at least the going rate to replace that inventory.
How many dealers would do well having none of the cheap stuff? Some, but for most dealers it's the volume of common items that make enough to support the business. And if the reputation becomes "they have good prices, but usually don't have what/anything I want" They won't last long. The same problem comes with being one of those guys who won't pay a decent price for stuff someone is selling. Get a rep as someone who lowballs every time and the really good stuff will never come your way.

All of the above is intended to be generic, I don't know Kevin, but I've hung around a lot of dealers and spent a trivial amount of time on their side of the table and that's part of the challenge they've got as I see it.


Steve B

tazdmb
04-06-2016, 01:28 PM
I am a full time autograph collector and have purchased from Kevin several times. Simply put, the names I have purchased from him are tough (Glasscock, Dahlen) and I don't trust many dealers. I put a premium on paying for his (and other trusted sellers) reputation and background.

That said, every time I have dealt with him, Kevin and his staff could not have been any kinder to me and did not "rush" me through and ignore me.

The final thing I want to add is that this a free country and Kevin can charge whatever he wants-just like you can offer any price you want.