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 His early interest in isolated autographs cut from documents was soon superseded by a realization that an autograph could be far more valuable when connected to the right content.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

  • Meet Bestselling Author Ayelet Waldman

    2014.10.30
     @ Organic Planet

    On October 30 at 10am, JCC Greenwich will present New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman, who will discuss her latest novel Love and...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • 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...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • 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...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • 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...

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

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