A Born Sleuth

Bill Panagopulos knows a fake when he sees one, whether it’s a very good forged signature or a reputedly authentic artifact.



Bill Panagopulos has the story behind every article he buys (to sell, of course) — among them are the baseball inscribed “Ted Williams”; a bow tie once worn by Humphrey Bogart; a gavel presented by Harry Truman made of wood from the White House; even a Colt “Peacemaker” revolver carried by General William T. Sherman’s bodyguard.

Photograph by: John Rizzo

(page 1 of 4)

In a world of cyclical economies, Basil Panagopulos rides an industry of endless growth. Someone’s always making history, and someone’s always buying it.“I’ve got a bottle of Scotch here that was in North Africa in World War II,” Panagopulos explains. “First Rommel captured it from the British, then the British captured it from Rommel. Stationery from Bill Haley’s estate, with ‘Bill Haley & The Comets’ letterhead. Go ahead, take a sheet. I got one guy whose crazy about Nixon. Anything Nixon I find, he’s interested.”

Panagopulos’s third-floor corner office off I-95 overlooks a pungently stagnant Stamford canal, but the business he operates is in constant flow. Alexander Autographs, in just its second decade of operation, has built an impressive reputation in the memorabilia-collecting market, noted for well-stocked online auctions and accompanying catalogs jammed with hundreds of historical curiosities. Autographs are a specialty, though hardly the limit.

Looking for a doctor’s kit used for hacking off mangled limbs during the Battle of Gettysburg? Panagopulos is your man. A note from a dying P. T. Barnum could be yours for $400 to $600; a penny shot through by Annie Oakley for eight to ten times that.
Over the last two decades, memorabilia has moved from attics to the world stage known as the Internet. Riding this wave, Panagopulos,
a garrulous giant from Cos Cob with a graying beard and a twinkle in his eye, known to all as Bill, has established himself as one of the trade’s most enthusiastic middlemen.

“Some think it’s a passion, some think it’s a disease,” he says. “It all depends on the level of the passion.”

The state of Panagopulos’s office suggests that passion can run high indeed. A row of slot machines stands along one wall. Lying on the floor beneath them is an old “Apple Computers” sign, the first-ever Apple signage, he says, used at a 1982 trade show and bought from a former Apple employee who also sold Panagopulos one of Steve Wozniak’s tool kits from the same period.

There are framed autographs of everyone from General Douglas MacArthur to Frank Zappa. Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly are represented, too, but their signed glossies are actually addressed to Panagopulos, gestures of gratitude for items he helped them acquire.

 

Greenwich Agenda

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     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

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     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

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  • SM&NC Farm Market

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     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

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    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

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    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

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    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

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  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

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  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

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     @ Bedford Street

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