With a little bit more than twenty-four hours before Burley Auction Gallery puts up the fraudulent Bob Ford-Jesse James tintype for auction, Robb Burley the auction house owner dispatched an email to Stray Leaves publisher Eric F. James, alleging defamation and threatening James with a lawsuit.
Shortly before, the auction gallery sent out a public relations release, still promoting the bogus artifact. Now a new question arises. Is Burley’s auction a legitimate one?
In setting off his defamation charge, Burley clarifies several ambiguities related to the auction item.
BURLEY CLARIFIES that Nikki Thibodeaux is, in fact, an associate of his. Thibododoux placed Burley’s PR piece on PRWeb
BURLEY CLARIFIES the Thibodeaux photo that appeared in the cabal of hoaxers on Stray Leaves is mistaken. The person is not the same as his associate. The mistaken photo since has been removed. Robb Burley provides an image of his associate Nikki Thibodeaux instead, “so you can update your blog.”
The offer perplexes. Is Burley admitting that he and Thibodeaux are joined abettors? Burley’s Thibodeaux image since has replaced the mistaken image.
BURLEY CLARIFIES more importantly that the consignor of the hoax photo is, in fact, Sandy Mills, the original hoax claimant still lingering in Burley’s shadow.
This answers why no former sale of the artifact was known or could be found. It also removes Tommy & Sara Jane Howell from the cabal list as being the consignors whom Burley prominently identified in advertising.
BURLEY CLARIFIES finally that the auction of Sandy Mills’ artifact is not, in fact, an arms-length business transaction. Burley clearly states he is not charging a seller’s fee to Mills.
Burley’s auction has an alternative motive. Burley states, “I took the contract to take down a bully, plain & simple.” The bully Burley considers is Eric F. James.
By Burley’s admission, the auction of the Mills artifact itself may be a contrivance and a sham altogether. This calls into question whether Burley is employing his auction license to legitimate effect. Or, is Burley’s license being misused?
To threaten a lawsuit is commonplace among auction houses, especially as the auction date grows near. It also is especially true when troubling questions arise about authenticity.
Robb Burley proudly provides a list of his auction house colleagues. They are advertised in his marketing. Two on Burley’s list have threatened the James family with lawsuits before. None materialized. One alone on his list has worked with the James family to bring bonafide Jesse James artifacts to the completion of a successful auction. The James family respects and endorses that auction house for its professionalism, due diligence, faultless promotion, and ability to generate a satisfactory sale.
The following is the full text of Robb Burley’s threatening email charging defamation, as it is written. Answers to most all of the questions Burley poses have long appeared on Stray Leaves available to anyone willing to read and get acquainted.
Thank you for the good laugh this morning. You are apparently as wrong about Nikki Thibodeaux’s photo as you are about the tintype. I am attaching a photo of Nikki & I so you can update your blog. At least you got my photo right (even if you did trim out former Texas Governor/ incoming Secretary of Energy Rick Perry).
Before we discuss the photo, you have several other egregious lies that you need to be addressed immediately. The Howell Family does not own the tin type, Sandy Mills does. The photo, Shelby GT350 & the Texas Ranger collection are being sold alongside the estate collection. Thats why the estate is listed PLUS the Texas Ranger collection PLUS the Jesse & Bob photo. You never called to ask. You just went to printing lies. So you have slandered the name of a late client because your facts were wrong. Not that facts matter to you.
You list something about another auction house getting indicted & fake Ranger items, none of which happened here or ever had anything to do with me. You try to slander by guilt through mention, not even association. We stand behind everything we sell here & always have. I will gladly put my reputation up against anyone in the auction industry. Just the month before last we were listed among the top 15 gun auction houses by True West magazine. We work hard for our sellers, but take extraordinary efforts to protect our buyers. We only sell a clients collection once, But our buyers will be with us for life. Most of our sellers are previous buyers, or recommended by previous buyers. Anyone who is interested in the photo will have a 30 day period to return for any reason. Anyone that has been serious about the photo is aware of your opinion, they just don’t believe you. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I simply present the evidence provided by identification & history/genealogy expert & let the bidders decide. You claim I am part of some grand “hoax”, yet I am not charging Sandy Mills a sellers fee. I have never met Lois Gibson or Freda Hardison, & only met Sandy Mills once when I picked up the photograph. What exactly am I getting out of this, other than being slandered by a blogger with a very common last name? You are used to everyone taking your lies & not fighting back. That’s about to change drastically. You have slandered anyone that disagrees with you. The list is long & prestigious compared to what you bring to the table.
You are correct in one matter, there as many fake Ranger badges as there are fake Jesse James items. We only sell authentic Texas Ranger items. That is why we have had the pleasure of selling more real Texas Ranger items than anyone over the past few years, including Texas Ranger Captain & U.S. Marshal Jack Dean’s collection. (photos attached from our last auction).
This isn’t the first James related item to be brought to us, but it is the first one we have agreed to offer at auction. Several years back a Colt pistol showed up here with a bloated file folder full of pedigree. After months, I sent it back to the consignor because for all its pedigree, it didn’t add up. The gun ended up in a major east coast auction house with a massive a large estimate on it. I thought I had made a mistake until I saw they had to pull it from the sale. We turn down far more “historic” items than we sell here. We are selective in what we offer our buyers
As for my due diligence, I read your blog post in regards to the photo a year ago. While I agreed with some of your points & questions raised, I couldn’t take it seriously because it was negative character assassinating rant wrapped in a computer hack conspiracy. The main reason I took Lois’ assessment over yours was there was no good reason to listen to yours. Why should I or anyone else? What qualifications, certifications, or degrees do you have? When you say the Jesse James family, what does that actually mean? You speak for every family member? Who gave you that authority? Who appointed you? Are you elected? How often are you elected or is more of a dictatorship of title? What are your qualifications? How are you related to Jesse James? What other “experts” examined the photo? Who are they? What are their qualifications? I understand that you made friends with Jesse’s grandson & started a blog, but what else gives you the expertise you claim to have? None of those questions can be answered from the information you have on your blog. Someone should really take a hard look at that before giving credence to your opinion. No wonder you are trying so hard to kill this item, it may end up proving how little your opinion matters. Someone may actually take a closer look at what it is you actually do. Your actions are far from professional by any measure.
The fact is the photo has two legitimate experts that back it with provable genealogical ties, & a blogger/supposed relative against it. The problem is you have slandered the item to such a point that you have greatly hurt the value of the item among top photo collectors, though you have not completely killed it. The problem is the defamation of my name, perpetrated by you will remain long after the auction Saturday. I will seek rectify that through the courts soon enough. I didnt take the contract to make a bunch of money (no seller fees charged). I took the contact to take down a bully, plain & simple. After reading your blog & how you attempt to intimidate, accuse, & slander anyone that differs from your opinion, you are used to being a bully hiding behind a computer screen. That will not work for you this time. Correct your lies. You have a right to believe what you chose, but it does not give you the right to slander those that disagree with you. You may just end up meeting that person face to face some day.
You will be hearing from me.
ANOTHER FINAL GAVEL
Eric F. James denies Robb Burley’s allegation of defamation and questions who’s identity is being defamed. James does not know if Burley will make good on his threat, or not. He notes Burley is putting out additional promotion nearing the stretch. Burley and Sandy Mills may set a reserve that is too untenable and a bar to a sale. Mills still may be expecting “in the millions.” They also may be setting up James for their fall. James notes, if Burley does proceed with his threat, it is Burley who may find himself self-defeated.
Like other artifacts of questionable authenticity in James’ experience, he says the item may or may not sell at auction. If there is no reserve attached, he expects it will sell. If it does not sell, the auctioneer may continue to effect a private sale behind the open market.
In his final comment, James concludes, “We’re talking about an auction here. In an auction, reality always falls somewhere between bluster and the real deal.”