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Photo Experts of Convenience Juke Identity Theft

Seeking authentication experts of convenience doomed Justin Whiting & his fake Jesse James photo to failure.

Justin Whits-fake Jesse James
Justin Whting and his fake Jesse James tintype

 

When Justin Whiting’s “7£ eBay find” was rejected by the Jesse James family as a fake image of Jesse James, Whiting turned to experts of convenience. Whiting believed the experts he chose would provide the validation required to bring his tintype to auction. His experts would provide Whiting a path to the financial windfall he expected.

Whiting’s experts of convenience, however, fell far short of the task. Flaws hidden in their backgrounds and abilities proved to equal Justin Whiting’s flaws of expectation.

Rejected by Jesse James Family

In email salted by bad grammar, misspellings, and chronic badgering, Whiting repeatedly plagued the James family’s historian, Eric F. James, with conflicting claims related to several old photographic images Whiting owned. Once Whiting settled on the best image he thought was Jesse James, he requested the family historian’s concurrence without offering justification or reason.

In short order, James informed Whiting his image, in fact, was not an authentic image of Jesse James. James further advised Whiting that any effort to secure an authentication would be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Whiting abruptly switched to other images in his possession that he also claimed was Jesse James. Whiting’s incoherence quickly turned into an annoyance for James. The irritation turned into exasperation when Whiting informed James he would consult Lois Gibson for an authentication of his image.

Rejected by Lois Gibson

Lois Gibson was known to James as the haywire authentication artist in the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax of 2017. James warned Whiting to be wary of whom he associated with, lest Whiting acquire the reputation of a con artist himself.

Months past before Whiting returned to James. When he did, Whiting complained that Lois Gibson did not believe his image was a match for Gibson’s Jesse James image authenticated in her hoax. Why would they, James questioned. You can’t compare a fake image of Jesse James to another fake image of Jesse James that was authenticated as a match for yet another fake image of Jesse James. Whiting’s rabbit hole of foolishness was laughable.

Regardless any reason, or the lack thereof, Lois Gibson offered to authenticate Whiting’s image for $750 plus an additional $750 to authenticate Whiting’s comparison image.

Billy the Kid by Lois Gibson
“Authentication” of Billy the Kid by Lois Gibson.

Whiting told James he would align with James in branding Gibson a fraud if only James would approve his image. At this point, James ceased responding to Whiting’s chronic email.

Accepted by Experts of Convenience

In time, Whiting returned once more to James to announce he had found an authenticator more expert than the Jesse James family. His authentication expert accepted Whiting’s image as a match to an image of Jesse James known by James. Shortly, Whiting expected, his image would be fully authenticated in writing so he could proceed to the auction market.

William Dunniway

William Dunniway is not an expert in Jesse James photography. He is not an expert in photo image authentication, nor is he trained in any photographic forensic science. This did not stop Justin Whiting from seeking William Dunniway as his second expert after Lois Gibson to authenticate his fake image of Jesse James.

William “Will” Dunniway gave up historical re-enacting to pursue his interest in wet collodion photography

Will Dunniway
William “Will” Dunniway gave up historical re-enacting to pursue his interest in wet collodion photography

For 25 years, Will Dunniway, as he is known, was a re-enactor of history. Today, Will no longer does re-enactments. Instead, his time is devoted to his interest in wet collodion photography, an old style of photographic image creation that differs entirely from the tintype photography of Justin Whiting’s image.

Like Justin Whiting, inexperience in the forensic science of image authentication did not stop Will Dunniway from stepping beyond the boundaries of his abilities. When he did, Dunniway exposed his own deficiencies.

Dunniway’s Shortcomings

Recently, Will Dunniway was called upon to assess an image claimed to include Billy the Kid.  The National Geographic Society produced a documentary about the find.

The image since has become highly controversial and has divided the community of western historians. Dunniway’s opinion revealed the limitations of his expertise. 

True West Magazine reported Dunniway’s Billy the Kid findings.

The tintype itself was analyzed by noted wet-plate collodion photographer Will Dunniway…He date-stamped the croquet photo to a plate made between 1877-1881. The chemical process used to make the plate tells the tale. Residue and a close look at the media material itself is consistent with photographs made in that time frame. Dunniway also confirms McWilliams findings that clothing worn in the period is correct.”’ 

Such was Will Dunniway’s sole findings.

player of croquet game
Does this tintype of a croquet game include Billy the Kid?

Will Dunniway suggested that period clothing and an estimated date of 1877-1881 says the third person from the left is Billy the Kid.

Of Dunniway’s two findings – one, the date stamp of a collodion image compared to a tintype, and two, the identification of period clothing – neither of these findings authenticate anything regarding the primary question. Does the image include Billy the Kid?

Dunniway’s Expert “Authentication” for Whiting

Wisely, Dunniway begins the written affidavit of his findings for Whiting’s Jesse James tintype. He boldly states, “…I am NOT a facial recognition expert.”

This statement alone should have disqualified Dunniway as an expert in forensic science suited to assess and write an image authentication. Any opinion Dunniway might produce was doomed to be rendered unworthy.

Will Dunniway affadvit
Affidavit of authentication by Will Dunniway lacks any statement of training and experience in formal forensic science analysis or motorization. The opinion letter is accompanied by a business card, promotional advertising, references copies of Whiting’s claimed image, and a meaningless imprimatur stamp. The document is not notarized.

Regardless, Dunniway persisted in Whiting’s authentication charade. Dunniway stated, “The age of the image was about 1861-1862.” He offered no explanation for his declaration.

Again without evidence, Dunniway speculated as if fact, about Whiting’s comparison image. Dunniway stated, “It [the comparison image] appears to have been printed of a collodion glass negative…” Then Dunniway added one more  disqualifying pointless absurdity, “This is only conjecture…”

In conclusion, Dunniway’s imagination took flight like that of Justin Whiting. “I believe it was taken on the same day by the same photographer. This is very evident by the face, hair cut [sic], jacket, shirt, and tie that this is the same image of Jesse James at 14 years old.” How this imaginary deduction is made, Dunniway left entirely unexplained.

In the end, Dunniway excused himself and his valueless declarations. “I recommend that Justin follow up with a facial forensic comparison…” With that, the buck was passed from Justin Whiting’s second expert to his third expert, Kent Gibson.

Kent Gibson

A public watchdog, says Kent Gibson “has never met a photo he didn’t authenticate as a famous person. His most famous pratfall was the bogus Amelia Earhart.”

Under the name of Forensic Audio, Gibson markets himself as “Certified Forensic Audio Examiner.” His impressive show business resume boasts abundant credentials limited to the field of audio.

Nothing in Gibson’s resume reveals any training, expertise, or experience in forensic science, historical photography, photographic analysis, or history.

Integrity Issues

Like many in show business, Gibson prefers to put forward a younger, more attractive image of himself. The photo of Gibson that appears on his website is a much younger version of the middle-aged persona one meets in person.

Kent Gibson claims to be a photographic expert.
Kent Gibson past, as he advertises himself, & present when met today

Gibson also fudges the location of his business. On his website, Gibson advertises, “My studio laboratory is in the Hollywood Hills.” His actual address, that appears on the same web page, exposes Kent Gibson’s fundamental difficulty with veracity.

Kent Gibson’s studio is not located among the glamorous, star-studded, multi-million dollar mansions and estates of the Hollywood Hills with its stunning views and coveted seclusion. Gibson’s actual studio and home are in the workaday neighborhood of the Hollywood “flats.” Originally populated by crowded orange and avocado groves, Gibson’s neighborhood today is beset by heavy traffic, closely knit homes, and apartment buildings.

511 North Orange Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Home studio of Kent Gibson, not in the Hollywood Hills as Gibson says, but in the less prestigious Hollywood “flats”

Whenever Kent Gibson is shown an old photographic image, Gibson exits the neighborhood of reality and enters a world of fantasy.  Like Justin Whiting, Gibson dreams of discovering the historic photo that will make his name as popular as a celebrity subject he attaches to it. No explanation or justification for this is required in Gibson’s world of expertise.

Photo Identification Slip-ups

Despite his lack of scientific forensic credentials, Kent Gibson already has established a record of highly questionable photo “authentications.” One attached him with Will Dunniway to the disputable Billy the Kid. The other, more egregiously, finds Kent Gibson declaring an unknown image as the lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart. His Earhart declaration has been brutally disproved.

Claimed Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett
Billy the Kid (L) & Pat Garrett (R) as “authenticated” by Will Dunniway and Kent Gibson

In 2017, the New York Times published a fake photo story, typical headline and all, that claimed Will Dunniway and Kent Gibson had authenticated Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in the image above. The image owner, Frank Abrams previously had hawked the image as including Jesse James. Not finding believers in the claim to Jesse James, Abrams turned to Gibson and Dunniway to produce the altered claim of the Kid and Pat Garrett.

About the same time, Gibson’s authentication of the Billy the Kid croquet image was debunked. Gibson had claimed to discover the location where the image was taken. The location and timeline of the image were disproved. Amateur debunkers became more expert in debunking than the experts were in authenticating.

The image’s owner was revealed to be a shopper of photo experts. One abettor was a coin dealer and auctioneer, who stood to benefit by the sale of the artifact.  Other auctioneers previously had passed on the artifact.

An unwitting abettor was the  National Geographic Channel that was conned into producing a documentary of the discovery. Embarrassment followed for the Society when the discovery was debunked.

Gibson’s expertise in the artifice was downgraded after his Billy the Kid location identification was found to be an impossibility. Gibson had to admit his identification was not good enough to hold up in a court of law. Finally, Gibson’s reach into extreme fantasy to identify Amelia Earhart also was debunked.

Caught by the Short Hairs of Amelia Earhart

The face of Amelia Earhart is recognizable worldwide. Only an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson would dare identify a person showing no identifiable facial features, who is photographed from the back, as the famed aviatrix.

Expert of convenience Kent Gibson identified this seated person as the lost Amelia Earhart. Gibson’s judgment has been disproved since.

Gibson reached for worldwide recognition when he falsely judged this image for the History Channel. What he earned was worldwide mortification.

A post-mortem of Gibson’s debacle by the Center for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) summarized numerous flaws by Gibson and his abettors in the Amelia Earhart farce when the image was proved to be taken two years before Earhart’s disappearance.

‘I don’t know what to say,’ says Kent Gibson, the facial-recognition expert that the History Channel hired to analyze the photograph for Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence. ‘I don’t have an explanation for why [the photograph] would show up two years early.’”

Excuses without Explanation

The National Geographic Society reported,

In the documentary, Gibson said that based on the facial and body proportions of the two Caucasians, he said it was “very likely” that the photograph contained Earhart and Noonan [ed. her co-pilot].

In a phone interview with National Geographic, Gibson added that since the documentary filmed, he has acquired new facial-recognition software that signals a match between the photograph’s Caucasian man and Fred Noonan. His previous software had indicated that there were too few pixels in the photograph to successfully perform the analysis. (In a follow-up email, Gibson declined additional comment.)

Gibson’s “Authentication” for Whiting

Not skilled in the meticulous metrics and analytics of photo analysis that applies forensic science techniques which are extensive and time-consuming, Kent Gibson prefers to rely solely upon photo comparison software for the quickie authentications he proclaims.

Such software today is used to trick the eye, as one auctioneer tried to do in 2014. More commonly today, such software is deployed on Facebook to harvest metrics for advertisers by fooling  Facebook subscribers to transform their photo images into historic persons, the opposite sex, art, or cartoon characters. (The same software could be employed to transform an image of Kent Gibson into an image of Lois Gibson. After all, the two never have been seen together.)

When addressing Justin Whiting’s image, Kent Gibson acted impulsively as he does routinely.  Digital Trends reported,

…Gibson didn’t need long to reach his conclusion. “I could tell immediately,” he said after running the picture through several facial recognition programs.  “It scored off the charts.”

Gibson is also hyperbolic in his assessment of the value of Whiting’s image. As the BBC reported,

Mr. Gibson said: ‘”All power to Justin. An authentic photograph of outlaw Billy the Kid sold for $5m (£3.6m) in 2015 so the sky’s the limit…Jesse James is a very famous outlaw so this is obviously a valuable image.”

DOWNLOAD Kent Gibson’s Declaration

Spawn

Con artists of fake Jesse James images feed off of one another.

In Regina, Canada, Rob & Karen Baron produce a YouTube channel called “Bargain Barons.” They are promoting their latest discovery – a tintype they claim is Jesse James.

The Barons say,

We have put the word out to several people. We very quickly heard back from Forensic Audio & Video Examiner KENT GIBSON. According to Kent: “Dear Rob & Karen: I ran your tin through one of my 5 different facial recognition programs and your photo is plausible.”

The Con Artist’s Template

So far, Rob & Karen Baron are making all the mistakes, following the typical template of a Jesse James photo con artist.

  • The Barons claim discovery of a tintype of Jesse James like Justin Whiting
  • The Barons found the tintype on the internet like Whiting
  • The Barons compare their tintype to fake images of Jesse James like Whiting
  • The Barons are shopping for experts of convenience like  Whiting
  • The Barons claim Kent Gibson believes their claim like Whiting

Without a doubt, once the Barons have an authentication in hand, issued by an expert of convenience like Kent Gibson, the Barons may seek to become merchants of identity theft like Justin Whiting. They may seek an expected financial windfall, too.

If they do, the Barons will find the Jesse James family waiting for them to discredit their image and expose another fraudulent Jesse James photo misadventure.

RELATED

Part I – Historic Photo Fraud Produces a Merchant of Identity Theft

Part II – Jesse James Family Discredits 7£ eBay Find of Justin Whiting

Part III – Photo Experts of Convenience Juke Identity Theft

Part IV – Forensic Science Proves “7£ eBay find” NOT Jesse James

 

Fox Business News Proves Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax Is Reality TV

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.
Strange Inheritance reality TV mastheard
Strange Inheritance, a production of Fox Business News

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.

Fox “friends” the Hoax Cabal

From its “Media & Advertising” department, Fox Business News announced the program “Strange Inheritance” a week in advance. To promote the show, producer Brian Gaffney wrote and published his own promo “Heir Cashes in on Controversial Jesse James Photo.”

Brian Gaffney 2014 promo for “Strange Inheritance” reality TV show

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.

Brian Gaffney-Reality TV producer
Brian Gaffney, producer of “Strange Inheritance,” a reality TV show from Fox Business News

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.

Brian Gaffney on IMDb
Brian Gaffney, as he appears in his IMDb profile as a producer for the Fox Network

On the other hand, is this Brian Gaffney?

IMDb, the Internet Movies Database, identifies this Brian Gaffney as a producer for Fox. He produced five episodes of “Fox News Reporting: The Right, All Along – The Rise, Fall, and Future of Conservatism.”

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.

Jamie Colby-Strange Inheritance Reality TV
Jamie Colby, host of “Strange Inheritance” and her “shoot”

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.

BUYER IDENTIFIED
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.

Reality TV crew of Strange Inheritance
Jamie Colby, Brian Gaffney, and the crew of Fox News’ reality TV show Strange Inheritance
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.

RELATED:

Lost Jesse James Photo – Not Lost Lost, Not Authenticated

Enablers of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

Auction Gallery Partners in Jesse James Photo Hoax

Defamation Suit Threatened in Jesse James Photo Hoax

Photo Hoax Attracts Foreign Curiosity

Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype by Mark Bampton

MEN of the Jesse James Family-Photo Comparisons

Jesse James Look-Alikes from Within His Family

James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference-A Forensic Analysis of the Bob Ford/Jesse James Photo Hoax

__________________________________________________

 

Jesse James, Robert Ford, & the Tintype by Mark David Bampton

Employing scientific forensic analysis, Mark David Bampton of Great Britain further debunks the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax made infamous by tintype seller Sandy Mills, artist Lois Gibson, and their enablers.                             

FREE DOWNLOAD the entire paper HERE or to read in larger pdf format. HOVER over the cover image below to turn the page.

ABOUT MARK BAMPTON:

Mark Bampton
Mark David Bampton of Ampthill, England

“I was born and have always lived in the UK. Since 2000, I have lived in Ampthill, which is a small Georgian town in Bedfordshire.

“From my formative years, I was interested in a mixture of the arts and technical subjects, moving on to complete an art foundation course. There I decided to pursue a career in industrial design, combining both artistic and technical demands.

“My career progressed into product engineering and development. I became interested in quality management and moved into this discipline through establishing management systems and achieving ISO9001 certification for my employers. This included some project management.

“I have always worked in manufacturing industries, involving automotive accessories, motorcycle and industrial safety equipment, though the majority of my time has been spent in the medical device manufacturing industry.”

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Design, Class 2 (1) Honours

  • Diploma in Management Studies, with Distinction

  • Prince 2 Project Management

RELATED:

Lois Gibson-Sandy Mills Tintype Controversy Puzzles Great Britain – but not for long

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?”

True Jesse James and Bob Ford-Fake Jesse James and Bob Ford
Cover image from Mark Bampton’s discourse, “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype.”

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.”

 

Mark Bampton
Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England

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.”

 

Robert Johnson image controversy
Disputed image of famed bluesman Robert Johnson

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.”

Bampton soon discovered the reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the claimed Bob Ford/Jesse James tintype.  when he read another article written by Dr. Bruce Conforth, that also was published on Academia. In writing “A New Analysis of the Two Accepted Photos of Robert Johnson and the Alleged 3rd Photo,” Dr. Conforth lays out the story of the Johnson image, its discovery, and Gibson’s record of association with it. This article followed two previous publications by Conforth. “Another Robert Johnson Photo Debunked” documents Conforth’s disgruntlement with the fakery surrounding the Johnson image. “The Business of Robert Johnson Fakery” is another Conforth article published in Living Blues magazine.

To Mark Bampton, the Conforth’s story already was  a familiar one. Dr. Conforth’s story of the Johnson image reflected almost precisely the sad saga of the Bob Ford/Jesse James image as related in the James family’s rebuttal to Gibson’s authentication.

Linear forensics applied to claimed Robert Johnson image
Linear forensics applied to Lois Gibson claimed image of Robert Johnson

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.”

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Jesse James with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Jesse James image yields numerous discrepancies that are plainly visible.

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.

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Bob Ford with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Bob Ford image yields plainly visible discrepancies.

“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.

icollector bid report
Sale report for the fake Bob Fork/Jesse James tintype is identified on icollector website

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.”

Georgetown College
Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky

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.

MEET Mark 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.

CONTACT Mark Bampton