Publisher, art galleries offer refunds after Bob Dylan autographs are found to be made via auto-pen

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Music legend Bob Dylan is seeking shelter from a storm of criticism after fans who paid $599 for a “hand-signed” copy of his new book discovered the autographs weren’t genuine.

Nine hundred copies of The Philosophy of Modern Song were sold at premium price with a Dylan signature. As it turns out, at least some of the supposedly handwritten signatures were made with an “auto-pen” device that replicates an original script.

The outrage was strong enough to prompt a statement from the Tambourine Man, who famously said nothing when he became the first musician to win a Nobel prize.

“I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem,” he wrote on Facebook. “However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years… 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. Using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that.”

Dylan explained that the vertigo made it necessary for a team of five people to help him with signing sessions. During the pandemic, they were unable to find a safe way to do that. That’s when the auto-pen was suggested.

Publisher Simon & Schuster said it would refund people who bought the $599 versions of the book immediately.

As news of the auto-pen began blowin’ in the wind, the U.K. gallery that has sold most of Dylan’s paintings said it would offer full refunds to customers who purchased “hand-signed” items. Those prints typically sold for between $6,000 and $18,000 apiece.

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