The claimed authenticity of an auction item today can fall under very critical, and perhaps more professional, analysis. Technology itself and the internet, now truly being worldwide, have brought a host of analytical skills to bear. A fake image is easier than ever to assess. No longer can a claim be made that an item is what it’s claimed to be. Of course, a claim can still be made, but people of serious intent want to know the underlying facts for the claim – particularly if you expect to reap a windfall of $40,000 to $60,000 for a simple photographic image.
To help a prospective purchaser believe in the claim of the auction house, auctioneer Josh Levine has posted the following two videos. The videos are vaguely reminiscent of the old familiar con game of a pea placed under three cups. The videos are intended, not to give any substantive information, but instead to trick the eye.
If the image is authentic as its owner and auction house claim and is, in fact, worth as much money as they expect someone to pay, it would seem the wise course of action would have been to spend $5,000 to subject the image to formal forensic analysis, and give the forensic report as evidence of authenticity. As it is, prospective bidders are expected to bring only lots of cash and lots of ignorance.
In my estimation, the auction image is not what it’s claimed to be.
I see nothing in this image, or in the countless images from the James family files, that resembles these two people, or that produces a physical similarity with Frank & Jesse James, or any other member of their family.
Without executing any mathematical analysis of the images, or going further into sub-strata flesh analysis, or anything more, a simple comparison test should have sufficed.
The auction house claims its image for auction was taken before Frank entered Confederate service, placing Jesse at about age 15. The image of Jesse that should have been employed for comparison should have been the image of Jesse at age 14. It doesn’t take an expert then to perceive the difference between the authentic image and the fake one. Instead, what the auction house has done is to compare one fake image of Jesse James to another fake image of Jesse James. That, if purposeful, would amount to fraud.
ERIC F. JAMES
UPDATE: July 31, 2014
Gay Mathis reports this image sold at auction for $12,000.