Late in November 2018 some friends and I visited Las Vegas and stayed at The Bellagio Hotel. The Bellagio being next to Caesars’s Palace we decided to visit The Forum Shops of Caesar’s Palace to do some shopping and more specifically to visit a store called ANTIQUITIES INTERNATIONAL. Antiquities International trades in celebrity memorabilia, autographs and the like. While I was looking at everything they had on display I came across a guitar that signed by five of the Rolling Stones including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. I believe the asking price was in the neighborhood of $4000. Being a die hard Rolling Stones fan I seriously considered buying it however the price made the decision whether to buy it or not fairly difficult. As I was looking at the guitar a salesperson approached me and began sharing some of the information about it’s origin and what a great opportunity it was at the current price. I told him it was out of my price range and he suggested that I make an offer that he would run by the owner. “You never know” he said “It doesn’t hurt to ask”. I offered $2500 to the salesperson which, to me, still would’ve been a substantial amount to pay for the piece but being a true fan of the Stones I couldn’t resist the idea of owning a part of Rock and Roll history. The salesman left with my offer and I waited for about five or ten minutes until he returned and said that the owner had accepted my offer and would even include shipping the piece to my home. He then brought me over to a counter to fill out the necessary paperwork and I paid the $2500 with my credit card. He assured me I had made a wise choice and that I should expect the guitar along with a certificate of authenticity (COA) to be delivered within a couple of weeks to my home in Chicago. At the time I was ecstatic about the purchase, took one last look at it, was given a receipt and left the store. As promised, a couple of weeks later the guitar was delivered to my home and I immediately mounted it on a wall in my den. I can’t even find the words to describe how proud I was and spent a lot of time just looking at it each time I entered the room. It also inspired me to spend a lot of time online looking at other Rolling Stones autographed guitars for a few different reasons and this is when I noticed a huge spread in the dollar amounts of other similar looking guitars. It was at this point that my research about anything the Stones had signed put a bug in my mind regarding the authenticity of the guitar I had bought. It had never occurred to me that a store that was positioned in such a high end mall with time honored stores such as Tiffany’s, Prada, Coach, etc., would be suspect in their ethics but as it turned out, they sold me a fake. If it weren’t for the horror stories I was finding more and more of on the internet regarding situations just like my own I decided I needed to have the guitar authenticated so I could put any question of it’s authenticity to bed and enjoy the guitar without question. I went online and researched different sources of authentication services and found quite a few. I should also add that I looked for forensic handwriting analists in my area as well. The end result was that a company by the name of PSA/DNA were one of, if not, THE leading authentication companies out there and, as it turned out, they regularly sent analysts to cities around the country on a regular basis to offer their services for those that weren’t anywhere near their home bases in California and New Jersey. As it turned out they PSA/DNA were scheduled to be in Chicago on May 22nd of this year and so I contacted them to find out what, if anything, I needed to do other than just show up at the designated place they would be working. So, on the 22nd I wrapped the guitar in a blanket and drove to have it analyzed. Long story short, I paid the $200 fee PSA charged to give me their opinion, handed over the guitar and waited about a half hour. Bottom line, it didn’t pass muster. It was a fake and the gentleman that informed me of it came just short of calling me an idiot for buying it. With that I wrapped up my worthless guitar and drove the two hour ride home. During the drive back I called Antiquities International to give them the news and ask about their guarantee which is clearly spelled out on the COA. The gentleman on the other end of the phone informed me that they didn’t recognize PSA/DNA as a qualified third party analyst and that they had their own “in house” analyst. He went on to say that if I expected any action on their part I would have to produce a forensic handwriting analyst that they approved of to discredit the autographs. I’ve since hired a well respected, licensed forensic expert and the outcome was the same. He provided me with documentation, scans of authentic Rolling Stones autographs and a detailed summary of all the reasons why the autographs on my guitar don’t even come close to the real thing. I should also mention that this analyst is used regularly in courts of law for forgery cases and the like. His credentials are impeccable. Upon calling Antiquities International with this news I spoke with someone different and was informed that they would have to approve the analyst and that they would not accept the documentation of the court approved, licensed forensic handwriting analyst that I had paid for an opinion. I’m not done yet. I’ve spoken with my credit card company and am in the process of providing them with all the documention I’ve received thus far. I’m still waiting for PSA/DNA’s letter of denial which I should have shortly. Hopefully they will arrange a chargeback and I can return the fake autographed guitar. I’d like to end this by emploring you to beware of this outfit called Antiquities International. I am surprised that such a high end hotel like Caesar’s Palace even allows them a storefront in their mall as it’s says a lot about their level of concern for their patrons but this isn’t about Caesars, this is about a brick and morter operation that prey’s on the trust and goodwill of each and every person that passes through their doors each day believiing what they’re seeing is the real deal. My advice to you is this; if you’re considering purchasing anything more than a keyring from Antiquities International, you should do your homework or have a professional check it out first. There are good qualified analysts within a ten minute drive of the store that for a small price will give you an informed opinion. If you’re considering investing in something they’re selling, it’s a small price to pay.
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