Bob Dylan has apologised for employing a machine to replicate his signature on books and artwork since 2019 in a rare public statement.
The celebrity admitted that permitting the pieces to be sold as hand-signed was a “mistake of judgement” that he now regretted.
He claimed that in 2019 after experiencing vertigo, he began using an autopen.
Fans who purchased limited-edition copies of Dylan’s book The Philosophy of Modern Song for $600 discovered the problem when they compared images of his signature.
The publisher, Simon & Schuster, initially refused requests for refunds, assuring buyers that the signatures were legitimate and validated by a “letter of authenticity.
After continued pressure, they admitted the books contained a “penned replica” of the star’s autograph, and offered full refunds to everyone who had bought one of the 900 “hand-signed” editions.
The row also raised questions over Dylan’s artworks, prints of which can sell for up to $15,000 (£12,400).
In a statement released on Friday, the singer-songwriter admitted that some of those had also been signed by machine.
“I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem,” he wrote.
“However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these signing sessions, and we could not find a safe and workable way to complete what I needed to do while the virus was raging.
“So, during the pandemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help. With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary worlds.
“Using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that.”
The autopen was first patented in the USA in 1803, and allowed a machine to replicate a person’s signature as they wrote. US president Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of the system, purchasing two: One for the White House and another for his house in Monticello.
The modern version does not require the signatory to be present – instead storing a digital version of their handwriting, which a robot arm can reproduce.
President Obama was the first person to use one to sign a bill into law; and the device is commonplace in the art and literature world.
Van Morrison was recently accused of using autopen to sign CDs, although his management issued a statement denying it.
Leave a Reply