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 His early interest in isolated autographs cut from documents was soon superseded by a realization that an autograph could be far more valuable when connected to the right content.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

  • Bach With Verse

    2014.09.10
     @ First Presbyterian Church Greenwich

    BAch With Verse concert event on Sun., Sept. 14 at 4pm with recception to follow at the First Presbyterian Church, Greenwich. Hour-long concet...

  • 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...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

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

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • 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...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • 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...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • 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!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...


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