Bob Dylan, Americana legend and 10-time Grammy Award winner, celebrates couldn’t be bothered to issue a statement after becoming the first musician to win a Nobel Prize, issued an exceptionally rare apology this week for using a machine to automatically duplicate his signature.
The machine-generated signatures appeared on limited purchases of Dylan’s new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. Fans, according CNN, reportedly paid over $599 for one of 900 copies of the book that were supposed to ship with a “hand-signed” signature from the living legend. Instead, when they received their copies, frustrated fans posted copies of the signatures online and noticed the so-called handwritten signatures looked terribly alike.
Growing fan reaction to the eerily similar signings forced the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, to issue a statement admitting the autographs weren’t as authentic as buyers were led to believe.
“The limited edition books turn out to contain Bob’s original signature, but in some form of a written replica,” the publisher wrote on Twitter. “We are addressing this issue immediately by offering every buyer an immediate refund.”
That apology did not appease some buyers who felt misled by Simon & Schuster and Dylan himself, for persuading them to drop nearly $600 on unclear terms. A user responding to the publisher’s tweet shared an image of a certification document accompanying one of the books which assured readers that they had “something very special”.
Then, about a week after the controversy began, Dylan posted his own rare public Facebook statement acknowledge the fiasco.
“To my fans and followers,” Dylan wrote. “I have been informed that there is controversy over the signatures on some of my recent art prints and a limited edition of modern song philosophy.” Dilone went on to say that while he had previously hand-signed every one of his prints over the years, he started needing help in 2019 due to bouts of “giddiness”.
At first, Dylan says help came in the form of five assistants working closely together to help with singing sessions. These sessions, Dylan claims, have been made impossible due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines. This is where the so-called “automatic pen” comes in.
“So during the pandemic it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help,” Dylan said. “With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an automatic pen was suggested to me, with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the world of art and literature.”
By automatic pen, Dylan refers to a type of automated signature technology that has been around, in various forms, for a very long time.. Typically, these machines are capable of making a copy of the original author’s signature and reproducing it using a variety of writing instruments. Although several companies manufacture automated signature machines, “Autopen” specifically refers to this specific device invented by the DAMILIC company dating back 60 years. Predecessors to the modern autopen were used by prominent 19th century diplomats, including US President Thomas Jefferson. The use of technology has only expanded since and would have been used by both barack obama and George W. Bush, in some cases, to sign the legislation.
Although Autopen and its related clones are useful tools for celebrities looking to avoid spending days locked in a room typing signatures, they are looked down upon in the collecting community for complicating and devaluing artists’ signatures themselves. -saying authentic. And when it comes to sta herculeanLike Dylan, these signings can break the bank. Authentic Dylan signatures on fine art prints, The Guardian Remarks, can currently sell for around $14,000. Autograph Live, a site that tracks the authenticity of celebrity signatures, estimates Simon & Schuster can use a total of 17 different designs for Dylan Autopen signatures.
Autopen’s recent revelation has led some, like UK retailer Castle Fine Art, to question the authenticity of their own Dylan signatures. In a report seen by Variety, Castle Fine Art says two of its batches of Dylan signed prints were signed using an autopen.
“We have been informed very recently that during the Covid 19 pandemic, Bob Dylan has been using an autopen to sign many of his print editions, rather than his usual hand signature,” Castle Fine Art said. “We were totally unaware of the auto-open on these prints; however, we sincerely apologize for this very unfortunate situation and want to make things right. Like Simon & Schuster, Castle Art said it would offer buyers a full refund.
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