Predictably, the online market was flooded with Muhammad Ali memorabilia in the days immediately following his death. Many of the items offered for sale were listed as autographed. For who have followed Ali’s autograph signing deals and the market for genuine signatures, some of the prices were too good to be true.
Ali, whose signature changed over the years as he battled Parkinson’s Disease, was a guest at major sports card shows on a fairly regular basis just as he began battling those health issues back in the 1990s. He was paid well enough that Ali signatures were far from cheap if you bought a ticket or purchased an item following one of his signing sessions.
After he died, dozens of Ali items began populating eBay and other online venues, some carrying certificates of authenticity. A COA doesn’t mean that autograph is authentic, though. Questions about some of those signed photos, boxing gloves and other memorabilia have led to the involvement of Authentic Brands Group, which owns Ali’s licensing rights.
Reporting for Outside the Lines, ESPN’s Darren Rovell spoke with those who have been involved in authenticating—and selling—Ali signatures.