More woes for sports memorabilia auctioneer Mastro
BY SAM CHARLES Staff Reporter February 25, 2014 9:55PM
Updated: February 26, 2014 2:25AM
A sports memorabilia auctioneer awaiting sentencing for fraud, his business partner and a memorabilia appraiser have been accused of misrepresenting the authenticity and value of four baseballs they said were signed by four Hall of Famers.
In a suit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, Howard Rosing alleged that in 1998, 1999 and 2001 William Mastro and Douglas Allen of Legendary Auctions — formerly known as Mastro Fine Sports — in south suburban Lansing “misrepresented” that they were selling four baseballs autographed by Henry Chadwick, Mickey Welch, Jack Chesbro and Frank Chance.
Rosing, a retired physician from Georgia, bought the four baseballs for $130,369. Before buying three of the balls, Mastro and Allen supplied Rosing with a letter of authenticity for each from Texas-based sports memorabilia appraiser Mark Gutierrez.
In 2012, Rosing learned that there were “possible fraudulent activities” in the sports memorabilia market and later learned that all four balls he purchased from Mastro and Allen “are in fact counterfeit,” the suit stated.
The baseballs purported to be signed by Chadwick, Welch and Chesbro — each appraised by Gutierrez —were outright forgeries, the suit stated. Gutierrez did not appraise the Chance ball.
The signature on Chance’s ball was authentic but had been enhanced with ink added sometime after the original signature, the suit said.
Rosing never would have bought the balls, priced between $20,000 and $62,000 each, had he known the signatures were fake or altered.
Mastro, Allen and Gutierrez could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
The four-count suit alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and concerted action.
Mastro, Allen and two other men were indicted in U.S. District Court for various charges of fraud in July 2012.
In October 2013, Mastro pleaded guilty, admitting he trimmed the sides of a rare Honus Wagner card to increase its value and failed to disclose that an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trophy ball he sold for $62,000 was shown in lab tests to be a fake made after World War II.