Reportedly, “autographed” merchandise sold on Donald Trump’s website throughout his campaign, including those iconic red “Make America Great Again” hats and copies of The Art of the Deal, were not actually signed by Trump himself. Rather, all of the autographed merchandise sold on Donald Trump’s website was reportedly signed using a machine known as an “autopen,” which is used for automatic signature creation. None was signed by Trump’s own hand.
Over the course of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his campaign frequently bragged about the amount of money being raised through the sales of hats and other Trump merchandise. Now, ABC News is reporting that many of the people who thought they were getting collectibles autographed by Donald Trump actually got something else entirely.
On Donald Trump’s website, the autographed merchandise wasn’t officially “sold”; rather, money was raised by trading the signed Trump hats and books for campaign donations. As of today, the signed books and hats are no longer available on Donald Trump’s website.
Many purchasers of Trump’s signed merchandise were unaware that they had purchased machine-signed items, and they didn’t learn until they tried to re-sell the souvenirs from the historic campaign on eBay and other sites.
As the signed Trump merchandise began to flood the post-election online auction market, some disturbing similarities among the hats bought off of Donald Trump’s campaign site became apparent. Namely, they’d all been signed in precisely the same location. On top of that, the signatures on each hat appeared identical.
Likewise with the autographed copies of The Art of the Deal. When it came to the books, the signature was different from the signature on the hats, but each “signed” copy of The Art of the Deal purchased from Donald Trump’s site featured an apparently identical signature.
Some are saying that Trump crossed the line with the machine-signed merchandise. Others say that the buyers of the”autographed” books and hats (which sold for various amounts, such as $125, $183, and $243) got what they paid for, due to a fine print disclosure made at checkout.
Reportedly, at least in the case of signed Trump hats promoted in mid-September on the official Donald Trump Facebook page, there was a note in the fine print about the use of an autopen.
“Limited supply of hats which include an autopenned Donald J. Trump signature.”
Copies of The Art of the Deal sold on Donald Trump’s website reportedly featured a similar, small print disclaimer.
Many who bought the autographed Donald Trump items have now come forward to say that they didn’t see the fine print, and that they thought they were getting legitimate, original Trump signatures on their souvenirs. Some purchasers of the Donald Trump hats and books are now saying that they’ve changed their plan to re-sell the items, given what they now know about the authenticity of the signatures.
“I couldn’t, in good conscience, sell a hat that I now knew wasn’t signed by Donald Trump.”
Folks who have already sold their mechanically signed Donald Trump books and hats for a profit are also just now learning that the autographs weren’t authentic. One seller was contacted by ABC News after he’d already sold a $183 Donald Trump hat on eBay for over $500. He claimed to be shocked that the Trump signature wasn’t real, and now says he’s going to try to issue a refund on the hat.
“It would be nice if I could also get a refund from the Trump campaign.”
Apparently, if you bought one of the machine-signed Trump products from the website, the only known notification that the autographs weren’t done by Donald Trump’s own hand was the fine-print disclosure on the checkout page. Even the packaging that was included with the hats when they were shipped described each as an “official signed hat.”
A Beckett Authentication Services employee spoke out about the autographed Trump hats and books, and his thoughts on the way the products were described and sold were far from positive.
“I can assure you that even if you found the line about the autopen, the general public is not even aware of what an autopen is.”
It is worth noting that, during his campaign, Donald Trump frequently signed hats and other items for his supporters; his authentic signature reportedly differs markedly from the signature found on the Trump website hat and books.
So far, neither Donald Trump’s legal team nor the CEO of Ace Specialties (who produced the Trump hats and sent out the orders) have commented on the news that the Trump website “official signed” products were “autographed” by an automated machine.
[Featured Image by Mark Makela/Getty Images]