Given how easy it is to fake signatures these days, it’s super important to have a professional authenticate a signature before you can sell or buy an autographed item.
If you recall, quite a number of sellers walked into the Pawn Star shop with what they thought were authentic autographs worth hundreds of thousands, only to walk out disappointed.
Drew Max, a guest autograph authentication expert on Pawn Stars, seemed like the real deal. He could effortlessly tell a fake from a legit autograph, but his wit eventually became his fall from grace.
So what happened to this “smart” autograph authentication specialist? Here is the tragic story of Drew Max from Pawn Stars.
Who Is Drew Max On Pawn Stars?
Drew Max was a forensic document expert, handwriting specialist, and the founder of Authentic Autographs Unlimited.
He was one of the guest experts on Pawn Stars called to check the authenticity of autographs and autographed items. He authenticated more than 150 items on the reality TV show.
Like most experts on the show, Max formed a great relationship with the Pawn Stars crew and was called in regularly for his expertise.
Max Got Into Legal Trouble
Drew’s expertise in authenticating autographs and documents from popular people and items was seemingly unmatched.
However, it turned out that the authenticator was not all that authentic himself. His career came down tumbling in 2015 when news emerged that Drew had given the nod to fake memorabilia, helping present them as legitimate when the items were not.
This was obviously a major turning point for Max, and not in a good way. Authorities in Las Vegas seized the fake memorabilia and auctioned it off.
Drew Max did not escape unharmed, either. He was sued for misrepresentation, breach of contract, deceptive trade, conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and fraud. The plaintiff, Mr. Daniel Odobas, filed the lawsuit against Drew Max’s company, Authentic Autographs Unlimited, Toby Stoffa’s Antiquities of Nevada, and Guaranteed Forensic Authenticators, owned by Stephen Rochi.
Following the allegations, the Pawn Stars cast dropped Drew Max, and he stopped appearing on the show.
Max Had a Controversial History of Faking Authentications
However, the Daniel Odobas incident was not the first time Max had been caught up in accusations of faking authentication.
There was generally a huge cloud of doubt surrounding his dealings. For example, his fans questioned why he’d give himself the title of Forensic Document Examiner when autographs rarely need the application of forensics.
Many also wondered which famous items have received a nod of authenticity in the form of a Certificate of Authenticity from Max’s company, Authentic Authenticators Unlimited (AAU). Not one, apparently.
On the message board Autograph Live, a forum dedicated to discussing rare signatures and autographs, some fans complained that Max had duped them.
One user complained that Drew had authenticated a Babe Ruth autograph on a baseball, which the renowned company, James Spence Authentication, subsequently ruled out as a fake.
The complainer explained that even after complaining about this to AAU, Drew failed to call him back, and he was eventually told that Drew does not speak to the public.
Another poster on the forum added that Drew Max and his company were well-known fakers. There had been numerous complaints about certificates of authentication forgeries by his company.
Drew Max’s Story Had A Sad Ending
His fall from grace did not end with his legal battles over forgeries, fraud and breach of contract. Drew also battled alcoholism, and in 2020, authorities arrested the former Pawn Stars guest, charging him with misdemeanor DUI. Police took Max to the Clark County Detention Center.
Sadly, this is where he died in April 2020 from chronic alcoholism and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, a serious condition where the arteries become blocked, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Although Drew Max presented himself as a legitimate autograph examiner, the truth about his dealings finally came out. It turns out that many of his clients became victims of his fraudulent activities.