Bob Dylan Has Auto-Signed Art for Years—Massive Refunds Are Now Due

In a rare public statement, Bob Dylan said he regrets using an auto-pen to sign books and artwork, adding, blame COVID

Bob Dylan made a rare public statement Friday on his Facebook page in response to allegations that he had been machine-signing some of his artwork and a limited-edition book. It was a misstep that will result in countless refunds, already from his publisher, Simon & Schuster and, in the future, from his British-based gallery Castle Fine Art.

“I’ve been made aware that there’s some controversy about signatures on some of my recent artwork prints and on a limited-edition of [his book] Philosophy Of Modern Song. I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem,” he wrote.

However, he explained, in 2019 he developed a “bad case of vertigo” that lasted into the pandemic. He no longer had assistance to “help enable these signing sessions” due to social distancing. “So, during the pandemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help,” he wrote. But then, he says, someone gave him the idea of the auto-pen, a machine that copies a person’s signature and then reproduces it at a rate much faster than could be done by the human hand.

“With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary worlds,” Dylan said. “Using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately. I’m working with [publisher] Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that.”

Dylan signed the note, “with my deepest regrets.”

On Sunday, just after the graying god’s statement, his Castle Fine Art gallery issued a statement via Variety that showed it was none the wiser about the auto-signed prints, believing them to be hand-signed. Dylan’s prints sell on its website from anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 pounds.

Their solution: the gallery will give a full refund to anyone who bought the auto signed prints directly from Castle. Dylan art fans will get to keep the art, although they must send back their certificate of authenticity in exchange for a new one that showed it was signed by autopen.

Simon & Schuster has already refunded fans who paid $599 for Philosophy of Modern Song, part of a limited 900-copy run. The publisher made a statement last week after fans compared signatures online and found them eerily similar.

“To those who purchased The Philosophy Of Modern Song limited edition, we want to apologize,” the publisher wrote, according to NME . “As it turns out, the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in a penned replica form. We are addressing this immediately by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”

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