Edit ModuleShow Tags

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 2 of 4)

Zeal Rooted in Childhood

Panagopulos’s father Gene, a Greek immigrant, inculcated a deep love of history in his son. Typical dinner-table conversation included such topics as a discussion of the Moorish invasion of France in 732. Gene also had a particularly strong interest in the history of his adopted homeland and took his son to visit famous battlefields: “While other kids went to Disney World, I went to Little Bighorn,” says Panagopulos.

Gene provided the seed, Ken Burns the fertilizer. After taking in the epic documentary The Civil War, codirected and produced by Burns, Panagopulos found himself one day in the early 1990s away from his job at a family-run shipping firm, poring over a collection of autographs at a store on 60th Street in Manhattan. His eyes lit upon a slender band of paper bearing the signature of William Tecumseh Sherman, the famous Union leader who burned Atlanta and uttered the famous words: “War is hell.”

Price: $125.

Panagopulos made his purchase but found he couldn’t stop there. “Who was the guy who chased Sherman across Georgia? Albert Sidney Johnston, right? I had to get one of his, too.”

Johnston actually cost more, but by then it was too late: Panagopulos was hooked. He now had to have every Civil War general, North and South, even those unfortunate1 enough to die on the battlefield and make their John Hancock rarer than John Hancock’s. For example, a Stonewall Jackson signature, including his rank, cost $5,000. “That was a lot of money, and it was just one of 500 signatures I needed, if not more,” Panagopulos remembers.

To fund his burgeoning hobby, Panagopulos partnered with an autograph auctioneer in Maine who helped him find a few autographs to sell at
a profit. Then Panagopulos used the proceeds to nab his generals. Whenever Panagopulos found something promising, he’d check with his friend. A thumbs-up, and Panagopulos made the purchase.

“I’d buy it, consign it to his auction,” he says. “I always made money. I took that profit and purchased more autographs for my collection. It was self-sustaining.”

With all this buying and selling came greater expertise and interest in the deals. When a falling-out between partners had Panagopulos leave his job at the shipping firm, the autograph business was waiting.

In the decade and a half since, Alexander Autographs has emerged as one of the premier auction houses in the country for the sale of autographs and memorabilia. Some of the more famous items sold include:

  • An arrest card for Al Capone from 1930. The charge: Vagrancy. The price: $36,000.
  • A musical manuscript by Franz Schubert: $53,000.
  • A letter cosigned by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin authorizing attacks on British vessels: $85,000.
  • A signed photograph of Abraham Lincoln: $110,000.
  • A wristwatch purportedly given to Jack Kennedy by Marilyn Monroe, engraved “To Jack — With Love Always — Marilyn”: $115,000.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greenwich Agenda

  • 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop

    2014.11.28

    Santa and his LIVE reindeer - Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen, are coming back to town for the 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival &...

  • 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...

  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
     @ Bruce Museum

    October 28, 2014 - February 1, 2015 Selections from Gondwana, Images of an Ancient Land Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT...

  • Exhibition: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

    2014.11.22
     @ Bruce Museum

      Generously underwritten by Gabelli Funds and The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund Over the years, the Bruce Museum has...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Ellela La Beaute Loft One Year Annual Holiday Bash

    2014.12.20

    ELLELA Cosmetics owned by one of the most sought after, and critically acclaimed award winning makeup artists Elle Murphy today announced the one...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • Interactive Live Nativity at First Congregational Church

    2014.12.21
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    The Sheep are Back! Interactive Live Nativity at The First Congregational Church of Greenwich 108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich (across from...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Shakespeare's 450th Birthday Celebration

    2014.12.31
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    New Year’s Eve - Shakespeare’s Big Birthday Bash: A UNIQUE ELIZABETHAN FEAST CELEBRATING the 450th Birthday of William Shakespeare...

  • Whitby School Open House

    2015.01.11
     @ Whitby School

    When you visit Whitby, you'll see how children take the lead in their own learning, under the guidance of expertly trained and caring...

  • Greenwich Ballet Academy Open Auditions

    2015.01.12
     @ Greenwich Ballet Academy

    Greenwich Ballet Academy will be holding Open Auditions for their Spring Semester and Summer Intensive the week of January 12th, with a designated...

  • Family Fun Day Sunday

    2015.01.25
     @ Hyatt Greenwich

    Best family bonding day ever! Get your tickets now! Enjoy 9,500 square feet of fun, pampering, and family togetherness! Baby loves disco...

  • Positively Me

    2015.01.30
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

  • TuB’shevat-Shanahnah With Sandi

    2015.02.03
     @ Temple Sinai

    For children ages 6 months - 2 years and their parents or caregivers Celebrate a whole year of holidays with the JCC Sara Walker Nursery School...

  • Fairfield County's Giving Day

    2015.03.05

    Fairfield County's Giving Day - bigger and better than ever! On March 5, 2015, join thousands as we celebrate local giving! Fairfield...

  • Spring Gala to benefit Kids in Crisis

    2015.03.06
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The Kids in Crisis do-not-miss event, The Spring Fling, will be held on Friday, March 6, 2015, at the Greenwich Country Club in Greenwich, CT. It...

  • 2015 United Sole Sisters Luncheon

    2015.04.23
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    Sole Sisters Annual Spring Luncheon and Fashion Accessories Boutique Guest speaker to be announced. Luncheon chairs: Diane Viton and Jill...

  • Greening our Children's Annual Benefit

    2015.05.01
     @ Hyatt Regency

    Greening our Children's Annual Benefit May 1, 2015 Start Time: 6:30pm Hyatt Regency Greenwich With honored guest and Champion...


Show More...

Moffly Media e-newsletters

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Sugarplums and Snowflakes: A Nutcracker Holiday Gala
    Eastern Greenwich Civic Center
  2. Olivine Gabbro Opening Party
    Olivine Gabbro
  3. Holiday House Tour
    Greenwich
  4. Tree Conservancy Celebration
    Sam Bridge Nursery & Greenhouses
  5. Festivals and Charity Runs This Holiday Season
    Holiday 2014 in Greenwich
Edit ModuleEdit Module