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.



(page 4 of 4)

Content Counts

Research is a big difference maker for Panagopulos. Another is content. His early interest in isolated autographs cut from documents was soon superseded by a realization that an autograph could be far more valuable when connected to the right content.

“You can buy a Harry Truman letter for $100 if he’s thanking someone for a box of smoked oysters,” he notes. “You get a letter from Truman explaining his reasons for firing that bum MacArthur, or dropping the Bomb, and it’s the difference between $100 and $30,000. Content, content, content.”

Sometimes the content can be quite attention getting. A letter from Jackie Kennedy to her then sister-in-law, Ted’s wife Joan Kennedy, is full of indignation at Teddy’s philandering ways and an unconscious mirror of what Jackie herself might have experienced: “What kind of woman, but a sap or a slave, could stand that & still be a loving wife … & care about him & work like a dog for him campaigning,” Jackie writes. “It’s so old-fashioned.”

That letter got attention from newspapers across the country when Alexander Autographs acquired it last year. It had been found in a storage locker, apparently discarded by Joan’s maid who didn’t pay the requisite fees.

A riveting read, to be sure, but not one read without qualm. Doesn’t this violate poor Joan’s privacy?

Panagopulos says no. “What I’m selling is a piece of paper with writing on it, not the reproduction rights,” he maintains. “I’ve never seen someone sue for a letter. Once you send a letter, it becomes that person’s property. Once it’s discarded, thrown in the trash, it becomes anyone’s property.

“There’s an old saying: Don’t write down anything you don’t want someone to know.”

Fortunately for Panagopulos, they do.

For him, it’s a good business, but business isn’t the only consideration. To make his point, he tosses on his desk a glassine envelope filled with hair. As the envelope is inspected, he reads a letter dated 1865 from Karen R. Wright, wife of a former governor of Indiana, thanking Mary Todd Lincoln in part for the gift of her husband’s hair.

“Yes, that’s right,” says Panagopulos. “That’s Lincoln’s hair you have in your hands.”

A single follicle pokes out the side of the envelope and bends slightly at the touch. It’s hard not to feel something surge within you at such a moment, the polar opposite reaction from that experienced a few minutes before when noticing one’s business card was touching that framed portrait of Hitler. The business card was moved, quickly. The finger stays, caressing the reputed follicle from the same head that pondered and directed so much.
Panagopulos notices and lets out one of his throaty, infectious chuckles.

“Now maybe you begin to understand what it’s all about, eh? Now just make sure you put that in your article!”    

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • TREEHOUSES: Look Who's Living in the Trees!

    2014.06.21
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Saturday, June 21 - Monday, September 1 Hidden in the leaves, snug in the trunk or burrowed under the roots, what types of animals actually...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    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...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    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

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • 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!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...


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