Michael Jordan Jersey Scam: Authenticator Admits Photos Were Doctored, Rescinds Certification

Michael Jordan Jersey Scam: Authenticator Admits Photos Were Doctored, Rescinds Certification article feature image
Credit:

Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Ramsay interviews Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls following Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 27, 1996.

One of the biggest scandals in collectibles history took an expected turn late Tuesday as the authority in photomatching — the company MeiGray — pulled back its authentication of a Michael Jordan game-used jersey that it originally certified as used during the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals.

The news came days after the Action Network reporting cast doubt as to whether the jersey was genuinely used during the 1996 playoff series. The Action Network found that the photographs sent to MeiGray to photomatch the jersey may have been doctored.

MeiGray exclusively used photographs sent from a foundation under the name of a dead photographer — a foundation his family said didn't exist. The foundation has since deleted all traces of itself from the internet.

Had the authentication stayed firm, the jersey could have ballooned in value from its purchase price of nearly $27,000 in August to about $1 million. That's because the game-used collectible would have been the first of its kind from that postseason ever to hit the market.

After the Action Network's reporting, MeiGray suspended its letter of authenticity pending review.

MeiGray rescinded that authentication today after coming to the conclusion that the photos were indeed altered to make the match.

“We incorrectly authenticated the jersey based on counterfeit documentation and doctored media that we initially failed to recognize as such,” the company said in a statement.

For what it's worth, the jersey has been sold several times before. One of the times, it came with an authentication letter dated on May 16, 1996. That would mean the jersey was autographed and circulating the hobby a week and a half before Jordan supposedly wore it.

“MeiGray today has officially rescinded the authentication of MGG No. 160092, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan red jersey that was submitted for authentication in August 2023 in person at our Branchburg, New Jersey office,” the statement read. “The Letter of Authenticity and accompanying documents are void and not valid.”

On Aug. 8, a man whose real name is Juan Garcia strolled into MeiGray’s offices, sources said, with a Michael Jordan jersey.

MeiGray had seen this jersey before and couldn’t find a match, but Garcia said that he had purchased two photos from the foundation of late photographer Tony Ranze that showed it to be a match.

MeiGray looked at what was provided to them and took Garcia’s word on its face and gave him what he wanted: A MeiGray letter saying it matched Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, a game at which Ranze was indeed taking photos.

Even when collectors pointed out that nothing else publicly available showed a match, including TV footage from those games, MeiGray stood by its story. That was until the Action Network's reporting last week.

MeiGray said it would explore its legal options and will have a more complete report on the incident. It is not known where the jersey is at this time.

“We recognize that the truth may not have emerged so quickly if not for the diligence and attentiveness of the game-worn community and its investigative reporters," the company said. "We appreciate all who worked to get to the truth.”

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