As is their usual procedure, Premiere Props has put up a portion of the lots for their upcoming sale (Hollywood Extravaganza XI on September 28-29) with online bidding partner iCollector, though with these lots each includes boilerplate information about authentication that has not been part of past auctions. Back in May, I made a public and literal plea for Premiere Props to put a real and substantive effort into authentication of their consignor-based auction material, and whether or not it is merely coincidental, it appears that they are doing just that starting with this upcoming auction, with “a panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props” called MovieProps DNA (MPDNA). While the “soft launch” of these changes raises many questions (which I will outline below), it is certain a significant step in the right direction.Over the years, I have become increasingly disappointed with Premiere Props and their frequently lackluster and even completely absent efforts at articulating the provenance of the consignor-based material that they include in their auction.
This has been especially problematic in that Premiere Props was originally known as a dealer that obtained most of their material from direct sources (i.e. the studios that produced the films).
Once they entered the live auction side of this art market, and began to include props, costumes, and other material from non-direct third parties and collectors – without designated which pieces were direct from studios and equivalent parties and which were not – it essentially muddied the waters and made the absolutely authentic material less certain, and perhaps gave the balance more credibility than it deserved by way of being in the company of material that was direct from studios.
I’ve made a point of raising this issue fairly regularly over the years, in that I can see how it could be confusing and/or misleading to collectors and buyers new to the market.
At noted in my opening comments, it was earlier this year that I became really frustrated with the direction of the company and apparent disregard for including any material information about the provenance and authenticity of the material that they were selling. So it was back in May that I included the following plea in my notice on their auction event at the time:
My message to Premiere Props: Get it together. Hire someone who understands this art market to authenticate your material and draft descriptions speaking to provenance. If you have legitimate pieces, you will sell them for more money if you can clearly document *why* they are authentic. Even if you don’t care about authentication, looking at it from strictly a profit perspective, it is the best business decision. Plus your reputation in this area hurts the values on those legit pieces from consignors with good provenance. As a company, you have been doing this far too long and in too large of a volume for this to continue to be acceptable and not be called out on it.
Quite frankly, I’m sitting in an airport in Europe and scanning the catalog and am pretty appalled – offended – by the utter and complete lack of any substantive information provided in the “descriptions” of these items. It is quite honestly ridiculous. Just my personal opinion.
Again, it may be completely coincidental, and perhaps this has been in the works for some time, but with their latest sale scheduled for the end of September, Premiere Props is now including the following statement with each of their lots listed thus far:
This item has been authenticated and marked with new technology by MovieProps DNA to prevent against fraud and counterfeiting.
A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie & TV memorabilia business has authenticated this item. This item now includes three levels of security:
1) DNA laced invisible ink – a 9-digit code laced with DNA ink is placed on an appropriate place of the prop/costume and can be only viewed using a high-frequency UV light. The chances of replicating the specific DNA sequence which is unique to MPDNA is 1 in 33 trillion. This DNA sequence is so secure it is admissible in a court of law.
2) Archival Microchip Encrypted Tag – a patented, acid-free, 1″x 3″ tag with an encrypted microchip is placed onto the Certificate of Authenticity. The microchip contained within the tag contains all of the pertinent information about the prop or costume. The tag is tamper proof and the microchip is encrypted, making it impossible to duplicate.
3) The certificate also has the 9-digit DNA invisible ink mark which must match the 9-digit invisible ink mark on the prop. This will ensure that it is a genuine prop issued by Premiere Props and authenticated by MPDNA.
I have always been a fan of DNA marking in the collectibles fields, and honestly don’t understand why ALL dealers don’t employ this technology to at the very least bond the paperwork/COA (regardless of it’s worth/validity) to the item sold, if only to mitigate the possibility of people copying the COA and marrying copies to non-authentic material (as an example, Premiere Props sells some “off the shelf” material used in film and television).
So I definitely applaud Premiere Props for employing this technology, and positioning themselves as a leader in this art market on that front. Regardless of the value of their actual authentication, it still serves some value in tracking the history and provenance of an item.
But that is just half of the equation of this development. The other half – who is MovieProps DNA (MPDNA)?
- Who is MovieProps DNA and their “panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie and TV memorabilia business“?
- Are they truly independent from Premiere Props?
- When will this panel of industry experts be revealed? Or will they remain anonymous and unknown?
- Will this panel of industry experts be barred from consigning material to Premiere Props auctions, due to a potential conflict of interest?
- Will there be pieces in each Premiere Props auction that they cannot authenticate, which will not include their certificate? Or will this non-affiliated company provided a blanket authentication on all items in the auction?
- Is there any kind of “guarantee” that accompanies their affirmation and determination that a piece is authentic?
- If there are easily debunked pieces included in a sale that are initially marketed with their certification (like the recently offered fake Mark English Star Trek tricorder), how will that impact the ongoing confidence in this panel of industry experts?
- Will MPDNA be offering authentication services to companies and/or individuals apart from Premiere Props? Or is the company not affiliated with Premiere Props serving them exclusively?
- Will MPDNA launch a website with more information?
- Is MovieProps DNA the same company as MPGrading? www.moviepropsdna.com forwards to www.mpgrading.com. The MP Grading website discusses posters exclusively, with no information about movie props, costumes/wardrobe, or other original production assets.
Obviously a lot of questions, and hopefully information will be provided prior to the auction at the end of the month.
I did receive an e-mail from the PR rep for Premiere Props, The Mesulam Group, a few weeks ago which included an offer for an opportunity to interview… I replied back stating that I would be interested in interviewing Dan Levin for my “Prop Talk” podcast program, but have not to date received any response. If I am provided with such an opportunity, I will definitely bring up this topic to learn more about these developments.