We predicted months ago that the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is a set-up for a reality TV show. Now, Fox Business News proves that the fake photo promoted by Sandy Mills & Lois Gibson is headed, in fact, for reality TV as predicted.
Fox feeds on fake fodder. With Bill O’Reilly going on “vacation” after losing advertising support, Fox Business News brings the Mills-Gibson hoax to its reality TV show “Strange Inheritance,” hosted by Jamie Colby.
More Lies Than Legend
It appears that O’Reilly’s fake history show “Legends & Lies” about Jesse James was not fake fodder enough for the fake news network.
Anyone with factual knowledge of Jesse James history who views O’Reilly’s show knows instantly from the opening scene that O’Reilly’s show is a downhill downer. Debunking O’Reilly’s fake history about Jesse James, the outlaw Jesse James never shot anyone in the back.
In typical Fox fashion, Gaffney’s headline starts with two lies, necessary to the continuation of the Mills-Gibson hoax narrative. Debunking Gaffney’s headline, Sandy Mills is no heir of the Jesse James family, and her tintype is not a Jesse James photo.
However, wait. Maybe we should say the article opens with three lies. Who is this Brian Gaffney, the latest Mills-Gibson enabler to “friend” their hoax cabal?
Houston, We Have an Identity Problem
Long before the idea of a reality TV program came along, The Houston Chronicle introduced the fake claim of the Mills-Gibson hoax. A long list of enablers of the hoax tagged along for the ride. They have become known as the hoax cabal of alleged identity thieves. Like the hoaxers Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson, many suffered from issues of identity and veracity. It is not surprising that Fox Business News would find a publicity ally in Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson.
So now, the question must be asked. Who is Brian Gaffney? We know there is an identity problem.
Is this Brian Gaffney?
On LinkedIn, Brian Gaffney identifies himself as “Fox News Channel/Fox Business Network executive focusing primetime series, documentaries, 360 video and virtual reality.” He also identifies himself as a producer of “Strange Inheritance.” Despite having attended law school, virtual reality and reality TV are Gaffney’s medium.
Brian Gaffney is no stranger to identity politics, specifically those that affect the Fox Network. In 2015 Gaffney was engaged in protecting the network and defending Roger Ailes, soon to be fired from Fox arising from sexual harassment charges costing FOX $13 million in settlement fees. The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the sleazy identity games in its article “’Pawn Stars’ Producers Claim Fox News Network Execs Outed Gay Man in Reality TV Lawsuit.” It is not surprising Gaffney added the word “Controversial” in the title of Gaffney’s program announcement. Controversy is the grist of Fox media.
We are confident that, given Lois Gibson’s prodigious artist skills for photo imagery comparison, Gibson will prove both of these Brian Gaffneys as being one and the same person. In the moment, we take Gaffney’s own blog as evidence of who he is and will proceed on the basis of that identity.
REALITY TV or ALT-FACTS
Jamie Colby is the host of the forthcoming reality TV program. Colby is on the hunt for her next “shoot.” Trained as a lawyer, Colby sidesteps facts to sustain the corporate identity of the Fox Network that is “Fox Entertainment News.” Colby’s “Strange Inheritance” is not likely to produce any bonafide news.
Belying her lawyer training, Colby avoids substantive due diligence. Do not look for Colby to display any hard-hitting investigative reporting. Colby never contacted the Jesse James family regarding her show’s topic or the claims of the Mills-Gibson hoax. Reality TV is solely focused on diversion, advertising, ratings, and cash. Producing those results, and not necessarily facts or truth, is what matters to Jamie Colby and Brian Gaffney.
As did Bill O’Reilly, right from the start Colby sets facts aside. Colby’s alt-facts begin in her trailer teaser for the show. Less than sixty seconds into her program teaser, Colby displays an image long debunked by the Jesse James family as a fake.
Less than a minute and a half into Colby’s story, Sandy Mills changes the story that she has promoted for almost two years. Mills does not state she is a relative of Jesse James. Instead, Colby reports, “her forebears occasionally aided Jesse James.”
Auctioneer Robb Burley appears in the trailer, proclaiming “We’ve heard anything from $50,000 to a half million dollars.” That is a substantial reduction from “the millions” Mills formerly touted she was aiming to receive for her fake photo. If Burley’s estimate expectation was true, you would think Burley would salivate over collecting the customary seller’s fee following a successful auction. Curiously, Burley waived his fee, choosing instead to be compensated by his association with the notoriety of the Mills-Gibson hoax.
Bonafide Collector, Auction Shill, or Reality TV Conspirator?
The name Terry Verburgt is not one recognized among the known collectors of Jesse James artifacts or Western relics. Gaffney and Colby identify Terry Verburgt as the auction bidder who presumably paid $35,000 for Mills’ tintype. In the auction sale and purchase, there is no evidence of cash payment actually being made. Regulars who attend Burley auctions stated at the time of the sale that Verburgt was not a regular attendee at Burley auctions, nor was he known to them.
So, who is Terry Verburgt, who suddenly appears in circles where he should be known and recognized, but was not? We doubt Colby will investigate that in her show. Regardless, we have done some due diligence of our own.
Terry Verburgt is a resident of New Braunfels, Texas, where Robb Burley’s auction gallery is located. Verburgt appears to be a gold prospector who enjoys displaying his knowledge. Formerly, Verburgt was a VP and director of an aerospace supply company.
Most curiously, Terry Verburgt is a registered director of M. Windberg Galleries. The Windberg Art Center in Georgetown, Texas, is a seller of art supplies. In the art world, the track record, provenance, and reputation are always a prime consideration in regard to a prospective purchase. How aberrant is it that someone from an art supply company dishes out an exorbitant $35,000 ready cash to buy a questionable and controversial artifact that has no bonafide provenance, track record, or formal scientific authentication? Who would do so just on say-so? Was the say-so of artist Lois Gibson alone worth $35,000? This acquisition does not pass the smell test.
Now We Remember
Sandy Mills is not an heir of the Jesse James family, nor is she a relative. Her tintype is not Robert Ford and Jesse James.
Lois Gibson is not a forensic scientist who can produce a scientific forensic report to authenticate an historical image. Gibson is only an artist.
Robb Burley took no fee for his auction, but he had a film crew on site to video his auction. There is no evidence he actually received $35,000.
The buyer Terry Verburgt came our of nowhere. He’s in the art supply business like Lois Gibson. He was unknown to Burley’s auction regulars.
Now Fox Business News appears to create a reality TV show around all this nonsense. Where lies a legitimate business interest here?
Red flags were waving over this charade from the start. We foretold the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson was headed for a reality TV show. Now it has come to pass.
The Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax is nothing more than a reality TV show, a hoax faked about a fake historical artifact for a network that specializes in fake news and now perhaps faked entertainment.
Now, do I hear a higher bid for all this fakery? I have one. It’s a book, titled Identity Thieves.
In his forensic analysis, titled “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype,” Great Britain’s Mark Bampton poses his question about the controversy in typical British fashion – as a pun.
“Who are these four?”
Mark Bampton lives in Ampthill, which he describes as “a small Georgian town” in Bedfordshire, Great Britain. Prompted by the reaction of the Jesse James family to the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax, promoted by Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills and their circle of supporters, Mark Bampton decided to apply his own scientific forensic analysis to the image controversy. Not surprisingly, Bampton arrives at a different conclusion than Lois Gibson.
“It took me a little longer than expected to look into Lois Gibson’s authentication material due to the number of problems with it. From the material that I could find, I could not identify any effective analysis process.”
Unlike the artist Lois Gibson who claims to have authenticated Mills tintype by employing imagined photo comparisons and artistry, Bampton is not an artist. Bampton’s field is industrial design and product engineering, a profession that Bampton says requires both “artistic and technical demands.”
Instead of artistry, Bampton applied the sciences of mathematics, linear technical analysis, and measurement testing. These are the same skills Bampton employs as a product engineer. They also are the skills that a trained scientific forensic scientist normally would apply in the formal analysis of an historical image or artifact.
“I could not identify any logical or justifiable reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the tintype…”
Bampton soon discovered the Bob Ford/Jesse James controversy was not the only controversy involving the Houston-based artist. Lois Gibson also created a very similar controversy over an image she claimed was the famed bluesman, Robert Johnson. On the website Academia, Mark Bampton discovered that England’s newspaper The Guardian had reported on the Jonhson controversy in an article titled, “‘Robert Johnson’ photo does not show the blues legend, music experts say.”
Dr. Bruce Conforth, a university professor of American culture and a founding curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was cited in The Guardian article as criticizing Lois Gibson’s authentication technique. “Historical scholarship relies on evidence,” Dr. Conforth said. “And if you look at the alleged authentication of that photograph there really wasn’t a piece of evidence, there was opinion. Historical fact is never validated by opinion; it can only be validated by evidence.”
Very familiar to Mark Bampton was the linear forensics applied to the Johnson image, that appeared in Dr. Conforth’s treatise.
Bampton decided to apply his own forensic skills upon the assumptive Bob Ford/Jesse James image.
“I intended to make my report factual and impartial although conclusions about the veracity of the authentication were largely inevitable.”
Using several applications of linear forensics, now fully and clearly outlined in Mark Bampton’s documented report, discrepancies proved to be multiple and evident. Not only were discrepancies revealed in the conjectural Jesse James image, they also became evident in Gibson’s uncertain Bob Ford image.
“If this is correct, $40,250.00 is a lot to pay for a picture of two unknowns, even if it is an old tintype! Personally, I’d move the decimal place at least three places to the left.”
Mark Bampton registered shock when told by the James family that Sandy Mills’ tintype had sold at auction for $35,000, plus auction fees. The James family was informed of the sale by two regular attendees at Burley Auction Gallery events. The regulars stated that the prize bidder was not recognizable and was unknown locally.
The James family alleges that the fraud that is evident in Gibson’s hypothetical authentication may extend to the auction, too. Prior to the auction, Stray Leaves publisher, and Jesse James family biographer Eric F. James was contacted by the Houston Chronicle to schedule an interview following the auction. Given the very surprising outcome of the auction, this result should have made a gigantic news story, attracting worldwide attention. No historical image of Jesse James or the James family has ever sold for more than two thousand dollars. Eric F. James is perplexed that the Houston Chronicle did not follow through and interview him afterward as planned. Nor did the newspaper report on the auction outcome as it had planned. This was even more perplexing given the fact that Dylan Baddour of the Chronicle had broken the story initially about the pretentious tintype. Baddour previously also reported on Gibson’s alleged authentication of the Robert Johnson image.
Not willing to accept one piece of oral testimony about the auction result alone, Mark Bampton uncovered secondary evidence of the auction’s outcome on icollector.com.
Of course, no evidence remains that the purchase money actually was paid, the image transferred, and the sale concluded. Nor has the winning bidder been publicly identified following the acquisition of such a prized auction artifact. Those unknowns in itself guarantees that this story will continue to be a controversy for a long time to come.
Initially, Mark Bampton titled his paper in true British fashion, using a very witty pun. He posed the question, “Who are these four?”
The literal answer to the pun is a fake Bob Ford, a fake Jesse James, and two authentic images of them. The non-literal answer is, whoever has benefited the most financially or in publicity from the promotion and sale. Among Lois Gibson, Sandy Mills, the auction house, and the Gibson-Mills ring of partners and supporters, a lot of unknown information remains. Ample room for conjecture is left. The wealth of criticism leveled at this controversy will not abate soon, at least not until the pun of the question finds authenticatable answers.
“I plan to do a separate paper for each of the two Robert Johnson photographs…I plan to follow a similar analysis for the Robert Johnson papers as for the Jesse James paper.”
This fall, Mark Bampton will visit America to present his paper on “Jesse James, Bob Ford, and the Tintype” before the James family, their friends, and associates at the annual conference of the National James-Younger Gang Inc. The conference will be held in Georgetown, Kentucky. The public is welcome to attend.
MEETMark Bampton: SIGN UP for notices to attend & meet Mark Bampton at the James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Mark Bampton’s entire paper now appears on the Academia website and also is free for download HERE.
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.”
Savvy collectors of historical photos and artifacts took no time at all to alert the Jesse James family about the next stage in the ongoing Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. The latest hoax partner is the Burley Auction Gallery, aka Burley Auction Group Inc. located in New Braunfels, Texas. The only suspense left to this promotion of fraudulent Jesse James imagery is, who will be the next sucker to fall for this auction’s photo fraud?
The auction announcement clearly identifies who is the present sucker. The Burley Auction Gallery advertisement identifies the estate of Tommy & Sara Jane Howell as the present dupe to have fallen for the scam.
SON OF A CON JOB
The flimflam originated with Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, and others. The Jesse James family has published and documented a blistering indictment of Mills and Gibson, describing in compelling detail why the claimed image is a hoax. The James also have identified the cabal who have partnered, enabled, and supported Mills and Gibson’s hoax.
The Howells appears to have owned or acquired the artifact less than a year ago. Next in line, they now have consigned their fraudulent tintype to Burley Auction Gallery to dispose of it.
When and how the Howells came into possession of the fake photo is not clear. The photo was last available and being promoted for sale in January of 2016. Sandy Mills and her boyfriend were publicly intent upon selling the fake image for, as Mills’ boyfriend greedily stated in one televised interview on KREM2 in Spokane, Washington where Mills lives, “we’ve heard numbers in the millions.”
At that time, Bobby Livingston, executive vice-president of RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire, judiciously sidestepped the opportunity of auctioning the photo. Or did he?
Livingston certainly did not shy away from promoting the sham. In a newspaper interview, Livingston stated that if the image was authentic the photo might fetch up to $2 million. A surprising statement from an auction house, since due diligence by any auction house would reveal that no authentic image of Jesse James has sold for more than $1,500. Bobby Livingston is under indictment in a lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentation, and presenting fake historical images as authentic. Livingston and RR Auction go to trial on January 17, 2017.
Questions remain. How did the Howells come into possession of the subject artifact? How much did they pay? Why now are they so quick to rid themselves of a tintype claimed to be so valuable?
Burley Auction Gallery grandiosely expects the Howell image to fetch $50,000 to $1 million. The value estimate apparently has plummeted precipitously since Mills’ original claim “in the millions.” The James family predicts Burley will find a new sucker willing to pay far less than the predicted amount – if anything at all.
FAILURE IN DUE DILIGENCE
Clearly, Burley Auction Gallery failed to conduct any due diligence in arriving at its estimate of value. Nor did Burley assess the tintype’s authenticity or legitimacy. Burley astutely refers to the image as “Photograph Attributed to Jesse James & Bob Ford.” Burley does not state the image is Jesse James and Bob Ford.
Burley also cites the auction image was “Inherited from a cousin of Frank James wife.” According to the Jesse James family, Sandy Mills’ claim that she is kin to the Jesse James family is as bogus as her tintype.
Mills never has published her genealogy publicly or made it subject to any peer review. The Jesse James family does not know Mills family personally, or even informationally. Neither Mills nor her family appears in the official Jesse James genealogy on the James family’s web site Stray Leaves that has been published for 20 years, despite the fact that there are some Mills who in fact are related to the James. Burley Auction Gallery stepped away from conducting any due diligence regarding this claim of kinship whatsoever.
How much malpractice Robb Burley, the auction gallery’s owner, may be on the hook for is yet to be determined. If Burley conducted any due diligence at all, Burley never contacted the James family for its opinion. Nor did Burley contact the family about the image of Bob Ford handed down through their family. The James family’s image of Bob Ford first was published in 2012 in Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I., an authorized history of the Jesse James family. Nor has Burley contacted any collector of Jesse James artifacts and images known to the family. Those collectors are a tightly knit group. Most all enjoy a personal relationship with the James.
A CONFLICT OF INTEREST ?
One of the ironies of the Burley auction is the fact that the fake Bob Ford-Jesse James photo will be auctioned together with “Part II of the Texas Ranger Collection.”
Burley’s promotion makes no mention of Lois Gibson’s original “authentication.” Then, Gibson cited an actual image of Texas Rangers taken in 1892, a decade after Jesse James was dead. Gibson asserted one of the Texas Rangers to be Jesse James. She favorably compared Sandy Mills’ claimed Jesse James tintype to the Texas Rangers’ image. The individual Gibson asserted was Jesse James, in fact, is known to factual history to be Texas Ranger Robert “Bob” Speaks, not Jesse James.
The rotating banner on the museum’s website displays the Texas Ranger image from 1892 that Gibson claimed includes Jesse James. The banner image is titled “The History of Early Texas Rangers.” No one in America believes that Jesse James was a Texas Ranger after he was killed in 1882.
In a slide show, Burley does rely upon Gibson’s comparisons of Bob Ford’s actual image to Mills’ claimed image. A degree in forensic science that would employ mathematical analysis to assess similarities and dissimilarities of physical features in historical imagery is not needed here. Plainly visible in Gibson’s comparison is the dissimilarities between the actual photo and fake photo regarding hairline, forehead, eye, ear, and nose structure, lips and jawline. The two plainly are not identical.
Furthermore, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum takes great pains to caution the public against fake Texas Ranger badges. Fake Ranger badges are as rampant apparently as fake Jesse James photos. In this auction, the Howells have consigned to Burley Auction Gallery a number of Texas Ranger badges to be auctioned with the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax. Assuming the Howell’s Ranger badges are bonafide, is it any wonder why Burley Auction Gallery would make no mention of Gibson’s egregiously and flagrantly flawed Texas Ranger image comparison?
THIS BOB FORD-JESSE JAMES PHOTO IS A HOAX
The Jesse James family formerly debunked the Mills-Gibson-Howell fake and stands by its allegations. The family further has documented the cabal of sycophants that has supported and promoted this bogus photo. The Jesse James family restates its willingness to support anyone who may have a claim they are defrauded by the known principals and supporters of this Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax.
Burley Auction Gallery is on the hunt for the next sucker in this proven swindle. The James family now adds Burley Auction Gallery to its listed cabal of those – and their successors – who enable, promote, and disseminate fraudulent and fake Jesse James imagery in their exercise of Jesse James family identity theft.
In the Bob Ford – Jesse James photo hoax formerly written about HERE, a cabal of hoaxers assembled to perpetrate a case of identity theft, at the expense of factual history and in violation of the identity of the Jesse James family.
Through an ample misapplication of fantasy, imagination, slight of eye magic, chicanery, and purposely deceitful tabloid and broadcast journalism, the cabal sought to beguile, hoodwink, and defraud an unknowledgeable audience for the purpose of promoting fake imagery of Bob Ford and Jesse James and for reaping an imaginary million dollar windfall.
THE CABAL OF HOAXERS
The principal motivating forces behind the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax is without doubt Sandy Mills, Lois Gibson, Dylan Baddour, and the Houston Chronicle. Whether the others who followed were witting or unwitting accomplices, each as writer and publishers had a fiduciary duty to investigate and report the truth of the opposite side of Sandy Mills’ story. They did not. But others did.
Among the responsible writers and publishers, the Canadian Broadcasting Company dropped the story from publication altogether. CNN’s Michael Pearson questioned the image’s authenticity and claim. Christopher Klein who writes for A&E’s History rewrote his initial story to present the James family’s objection and argument. Elleda Wilson who picked up the story for the Daily Astorian wrote a followup story when alerted about the hoax.
Without doubt, calling out the hoaxers of the Bob Ford-Jesse James fake photo fraud, will not put an end to the constant flow of images claimed to be Jesse James. Within the period of the present hoax, two more claimed images arrived at Stray Leaves, claiming to be authentic images of Jesse James.
UPDATE: Jan 12, 2017
The next stage in the Bob Ford-Jesse James photo hoax has been announced by Burley Auction Gallery. The auction house and its owner Robb Burley have been added to the cabal of hoaxers engaged in this act of identity theft.
In addition, we also are adding to the hoax cabal, the website PRWeband article author Nikki Thibodeaux. The specific identity of Thibodeaux formerly was unknown until Robb Burley provided an actual photo of her. Thibodeaux is an associate of Robb Burley.
Two days ago (ed. Sept 30, 2015), the Houston Chronicle headlined a story, “Lost Photo of Jesse James, assassin Robert Ford is found. Authenticated. ” Here we go again, I thought. Another day. Another fake Jesse James photo. Another fake authentication. Another con artist, or two, or maybe more. The fact is, there are no photos of Jesse James or Bob Ford that are lost. Moreover, the ones claimed by the Chronicle are not authenticated. Here is why.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Lois Gibson holds the world record for “most successful forensic artist.” Gibson is the chief forensic artist for the Houston Police Department. In my experience as genealogist and historian of the Jesse James family, Texas is the birthplace of numerous Jesse James hoaxes. Some have carried on for decades. Apparently, with three images of Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James, which Gibson claims to have authenticated, the 65-year-old Lois Gibson is an artist with a leg up on creating another Jesse James hoax in Texas.
Let us back up on Gibson’s story to my first encounter with Sandy Mills. Sandy is the owner of the image in question. Gibson claims this image was lost, now found, and she has authenticated it.
As happens with regularity in most any month here at Stray Leaves, images of all types believed to relate to the Jesse James family are submitted here for review, and opinion. Mills submitted her image to me for review in March of 2013. Mills stated, “I have a tin type photo of Jesse James sitting with another man, we think it is a first cousin Robert Woodson Hite. We are interested in showing you. Please contact me.” The email from Mills arrived under enhanced suspicion. Mills sent the email under an alias email account of Robyn Anderson. Con artists love alias names. Red flags were waving already.
In 2002, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James Randall Ross, and I founded the James Preservation Trust. Part of the mission of JPT is to archive the family history, as well as to address issues about the veracity of Jesse James family history, genealogy, images, and documents. Upon receipt of a claimed image, the image is circulated first for preliminary review among family, respected historians, and/or specific authorities most relevant to the image’s provenance. If the image is believed to be possibly verifiable as authentic, the image owner is referred for full forensic investigation and analysis to a reputable authority fully trained in the metrics of scientific forensic analysis and Jesse James history. The image owner then can chose to employ, or not to employ, such services.
The image Sandy Mills provided me was so blatantly false about being either Jesse James or Woot Hite, I told Mills not to waste any money for an authentication.
There exist only a handful of authentic images of the outlaw Jesse James. Those images appear variously on Stray Leaves and have done so for nearly 20 years.
I also included an authentic image of Woot Hite from the Joan Beamis Archive for Mills to compare with her claimed image.
MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH SANDY MILLS
Hover for directional arrows – Click slide for full email
Under the alias of Robyn Anderson, Sandy Mills submits a claim to Eric F. James, the historian and archivist for the family of Frank & Jesse James. Mills claims the image is Jesse James and "another man."
Eric F. James replies, offering to review and comment on the image.
Again, under the alias of Robyn Anderson, Mills submits her photo image to James. Mills now identifies "another man" to be Wood Hite, a cousin of Jesse James.
James acknowledges receipt of Mills' images. He states neither of the image subjects is Jesse Woodson James or Wood Hite. He attaches an authentic image of Hite for comparison.
LOIS GIBSON & SANDY MILLS CONJOINED
The Houston Chronicle article now links Sandy Mills with Lois Gibson. This raises many questions and more red flags.
Who is conning whom? Did Mills inform Gibson of my reaction to the image? Did Mills offer other information to Gibson that Mills did not offer to me? On the other hand, did Gibson see another opportunity for self-promotion, as Gibson formerly did when she stated a tintype image of Billy the Kid was the authentic tintype of the widely circulated image of the Kid already known to be authentic. At that time, Gibson fell under intense scrutiny. She was widely derided among the western artifact collector community, another red flag.
Regardless of what remains unknown about the relationship between Mills and Gibson, what is known is that the images Lois Gibson states are authentically Jesse James, Robert Ford, and Zee Mimms-James cannot be authenticated as true when, in fact, they are fake.
LOIS GIBSON’S CASE FOR AUTHENTICATION
Customarily, a reputable authentication of any historical image is documented in abundant clinical detail in an image’s authentication report. The report usually bears the signature of a witness or witnesses, and/or a notary for formal and legal recognition. Gibson provides none – a red flag. The report will give a full account of the credentials of the expert performing the authentication, a full explanation of the scientific techniques applied, the entire known provenance of the image and its condition. Gibson pretends to do so, but provides none – another red flag. The report concludes with arguments and resulting findings, which the applied forensic analysis produced.
No evidence exists that Lois Gibson performed any scientific authentication of image assessment, or that she is qualified to do so. In her biographical statement, Gibson says she is a forensic artist. At first glance, her record as an artist is impressive. She claims no forensic science training, though – a significant red flag.
What Lois Gibson has proudly produced from her palette of artist tricks is a deception intended to fool the eye of the indiscriminate viewer and a public un-knowledgeable about Jesse James. Gibson’s deft artwork is intended to convince you she has authenticated the subject image when fact it does not – an additional red flag.
Gibson’s cardinal sin was first to alter the image to her preference by a process of image reversal. Lois Gibson reverses the images presented to me in 2013 by Sandy Mills. In the field of legal evidence, this is termed “tampering,” – a most compelling red flag.
In a series of plates Gibson next manufactures and develops her suppositions with no reference to actual history that is known or recognized.
BREAKING DOWN LOIS GIBSON’S ARGUMENT
In Plate 1, Gibson describes the spare provenance provided by Sandy Mills. Neither one addresses Mills own genealogy or the personal family background or circumstances that might offer the slightest explanation for how this image fell into the Mills family’s possession. Gibson proceeds to compare Mills’ image to the authentic wedding photo of Jesse James. Mills’ fake Jesse James is cross-eyed, something Jesse was not. Although Jesse suffered from “lazy eye” in his youth, the condition corrected itself by his adulthood. Mills references no relevant history about the condition.
The most telling giveaways of the Mills image are the spatial relationships and physical features. A reputable scientific forensic analysis would have applied a grid system, mathematics, and spatial metrics. Such analysis would have identified the discrepancy in forehead, hairline, eyebrows, eye formation, and nose that is all too evidently wrong in the fake photo.
In Plate 2, Gibson commits the authenticator’s crime of comparing one fake photo to another fake photo. She misidentified the comparison fake photo as being “Historically accepted group shot of Jesse James and cohorts, circa the 1880s.” Mills cites no recognized authorities for this false claim.
A check of the clock informs the most unknowledgeable person that Bob Ford assassinated Jesse James in 1882. Jesse’s popular death photo reveals his physical features. They resemble the fake comparison photo, not in the least. Jesse, in fact, was a bit chubby when killed. A check of any Jesse James history book also tells us Jesse had no cohorts in the early 1880s, other than the despicable Ford brothers.
Most egregiously, Gibson fails to discuss the physical discrepancies between her fake Jesse James and the fake comparison Jesse James. Between those two fake images, forehead, eyes, nose, ears, and facial width is all different.
Here is the quintessential question everyone looks for in claimed pictures of Jesse James. Where is Jesse’s famous missing fingertip in the comparison fake Jesse James? Mills’ fake Jesse James image displays a full set of unharmed digits.
“Historically,” Gibson’s comparison fake Jesse photo was rejected already as a fake. The actual image exists in the collection of Robert G. McCubbin, a reputable collector of Western memorabilia. The photo is of a group of Texas Rangers, identified as (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman, (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes. The rangers were sent to Texas after a shootout in 1892.
The image of Lon Orden went to auction in 2002 when it was claimed to be Jesse James. At that time, Jesse’s great-grandson, Judge James R. Ross, lodged his written complaint with Swann Galleries in New York that was auctioning off the image. The image sold for a paltry sum to a man from Kentucky. I met that collector a few years later. The auction house had not informed him of the written opinion issued by Judge Ross. Proper and full disclosure might have influenced the bidder not to buy.
Plate #3: Remember that shell game where three shells move around while you try to remember under which shell a pea was placed? Artist Gibson plays this game to fool the unsuspecting eye. She is not alone in deploying such tricks. We recently encountered the same technique by an auction house that was trying to sell a fake Jesse James image for an advertised $40,000 to $60,000 windfall expected. Some fool actually anteed up $12,000 for an image known publicly to be worthless. The price of ignorance in the Jesse James artifact market can be dear.
While Gibson focuses the unsuspecting eye on her fake image, a knowledgeable eye is asking, “Where did this other fake image come from?” Gibson present a fake image of Jesse James never seen by anyone before. Neither Gibson or Mills cites no origination of this previously unknown image. No one among the Jesse James community ever has seen this second claimed image of Jesse James. Not ever among the Jesse James family. Certainly not among Jesse James historians. Not even among the public. Again, Gibson produces one fake image to compare against yet another fake image. The image she identifies as “Jesse James, 1870s, Webb City, Missouri” is another of Gibson’s gallery of Jesse James fake photos.
In Plate #4, Gibson performs her same slight of the eye trickery. However, the physical features at the start of her slide characterization are not the same as at the end. If Gibson had simply looked at the photo of Bob Ford and his wife Dot Evans that appears on page 311 of my book, Jesse James Soul Liberty, Volume I, she might have surrendered her gambit to fool the Jesse James family. That photo of Bob Ford, never published before, has been in the possession of the James family for more than a century. That image of Bob Ford should have been integral to Mills’ authentication, had she tried.
Plate #6: Incredibly, stunningly, and arrogantly, Gibson no longer can control her hoax. She goes full-bore con game. Lois Gibson not only introduces a third, previously unknown, and additional fake image of Jesse James, Gibson throws in a fake image of Zee Mimms-James, Jesse’s wife, to boot. To the trained eye, this third Jesse looks nothing like Gibson’s other two fake Jesse James photos. Nor does it compare to any known and authenticated historical image of Jesse and his wife.
At this point, Gibson loses all objectivity. She clearly has no knowledge of James family genealogy. Nor has she made an effort to know it. Jesse’s wife Zee is, in fact, a James family descendant herself. Zee’s mother is Mary James, Jesse’s aunt. The couple is first cousins. They share the same genetic DNA that marks their physical appearances with shared identical physical features. Those physical features have been accounted and quantified across five generations of the James family. In physical appearance, Gibson’s fake Jesse James couple share no common physical features that match the proven genetics of the James.
HOW CAN THIS HOAX GO SO WRONG?
The simple answer is environment and enablers, whether actual conspirators or not Texas is home to nefarious con artists who have preyed upon the Jesse James family and its identity for generations. From Orvis Hauk, to J. Frank Dalton, to Betty Dorsett Duke, Texans lift up their tall tales as they throw factual history into the trash. Texas legislators actually do this with schoolbooks, too.
The true Jesse James family in Texas goes unrecognized. Around Granbury, authentic members of the real Jesse James family who live there roam in confident privacy and anonymity. They can do this because Granbury would rather fete its fake Jesse James internment there. Authentic Jesse James family members populate Texas terrain and cemeteries from Red River to the gulf coast. No Texan celebrates Geneva James who taught Willie Nelson in grammar school in Waco. Nobody in Johnson County knows of John James of Alvarado unless they follow Stray Leaves or read my book. Texas has yet to recognize the kinship shared between Houston’s George W. Bush and the Jesse James family.
But Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills can find ample news coverage for fake Jesse James photos by the Houston Chronicle, whom we now must acknowledge as an enabler of bogus Jesse James imagery, along with their correspondent Dylan Baddour who broke the story.
We contacted Dylan Baddour and asked for his defense of what he wrote. He provided the following statement: “Lois Gibson, who identified the photo, is one of the world’s most credible sources for facial recognition. She’s a forensic artist and analyst with the Houston Police Department who has garnered a Guinness world record and features in national media for her success. When it comes to identifying faces, there is no higher authority. Every auction house we spoke with found it very compelling that Gibson made the ID, and couldn’t immediately refute it.”
What motivated Baddour to inquire of an auction house and not of reputable Jesse James family, historians, or authorities? When it comes to Jesse James artifacts, we repeatedly take auction houses to the woodshed for their inflated and inaccurate claims, not to mention their despicable practices of deceit. In all of Jesse James auction history, there has been only one auction that performed ethically and responsibly; and, ironically, Heritage Auctions is in Texas.
We also reached out to Sarah Laskow, a news aggregator for Atlas Obscura. She replied, stating, “I used the Houston Chronicle as a source for this short post, as well as the analysis that Lois Gibson had posted. If there’s countervailing evidence about the authenticity of the image, I’d be interested to hear about it.”
Arden Dier harvested the story for republication for Newser, whose slogan is “Read less. Know more.” Really? We found no contact information for Arden Dier.
There is more to this hoax than is clear at this moment. New information is being researched and developed. More revelations will come.
In the end, this hoax will enter history under the names of Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson. No matter how long it takes, history always gets to the truth. Sandy Mills and Lois Gibson will stay on our watch list of tricksters, con artists, and frauds for some time.
The family of Frank and Jesse James maintains the fraudulent actions of Dylan Baddour and Lois Gibson, and their sycophants engage in identity theft. A like reaction will probably come from the family of bluesman Robert Johnson. Music historian Bruce Conforth, identified in the Texas Monthly article has been friends with Johnson’s descendants. Conforth publicly acknowledges the Johnson family’s assessments that Gibson’s claimed Johnson photo, like the Bob Ford/Jesse James claimed image, is a fake.
The article above is a re-publication of a post to Leaves of Gas that first appeared on October 2, 2015. After the initial publication of “Lost Jesse James/Bob Ford Photo – Not Lost, Not Authenticated,” the Leaves of Gas blog was hacked. The hack occurred on the day on which the Houston Chronicle published an addition to the story. The hack prevented public access to this post when the Chronicle’s new article was being published. This post represents the James family’s rebuttal to the falsehoods presented in the Chronicle story. Moreover, the hack appeared to have emanated from Houston, Texas, the home base of this Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax.