Last Friday, I did an article Sylvester Stallone coming to New York Comic Con and the exorbitant prices being charged to get his autograph or your picture taken with him. Well, since then there have been some developments that we thought would be worth a follow up article.
Most notably is the fact that Celebrity Authentics, the company that is bringing Stallone to convention, will also be bringing Sigourney Weaver as well. How much does her autorgraph/photo-op cost? Well, for her signature, you’ll have to pay $185 and to get your picture taken with her, you’ll have to pay $200. This is a bargain compared to Stallone’s prices, but quit a bit more than you’d pay for anyone else in Autograph Alley, whose signatures will range from free to $75.(And quite a mark-up over the autograph she gave FBOL head-honcho Rich Drees a couple years ago in Philly. She signed a copy of Ghostbusters for him for free).
The real villain here is Celebrity Authentics. Celebrity Authentics is boutique autograph farm that seems to specialize in getting autographs from people you normally wouldn’t see on the autograph circuit (your Harrison Fords, your Christian Bales, your Daniel Craigs). And the reason why they get such A-list stars is that they seemingly charge more for the after product. Would you like a Star Wars poster signed by Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C3po, R2D2 and Darth Vader? That will set you back almost $3,000. What about one of Han alone? That would have cost you $600 all by itself, if the had any available. The site says that particular autograph it is completely sold out.
Now, as I said in the previous article, if people are willing to pay that price, so be it. Let the market decide if the price Celebrity Authentics is charging is too much. Of course, that was before Celebrity Authentics made their defense of their prices.
See, when I posted the first article on my Facebook wall a friend of mine, who is a big Stallone fan, wrote to Celebrity Authentics to voice his disdain about the price they were charging for Sly’s autograph. He shared the response he got on my wall. This is it:
We fully understand your perspective, the same way many are now purchasing flights from around the globe including Australia, UK, Germany, Canada and across the USA to meet Mr. Stallone and believe that $395 is a great price to meet him and get his autograph. To you the opportunity is not worth it, while to others it is the chance of a lifetime. Mr. Stallone’s signature on boxing gloves and other items sell for in excess of $1,000. For example, a knife he signed recently sold on eBay for over $4,000 alone. In addition, keep in mind stars of this caliber have appearance fees in excess of $250,000 and in his case, Mr. Stallone will be flying in from filming in Bulgaria early for the sole purpose of attending the NYCC. As with most things in life, it is all relative to each of our own interests, monetary situation, etc. We will be announcing other guests for the event soon and hopefully one or more of them may be of interest to you. Take care.
That statement is corporate chicanery at its finest. From the rote “His autographs sell for much more on eBay” defense that is used by just about every celebrity to justify their autograph fees to the subtle guilt trip the spokesperson lies down on my friend (“PEOPLE ARE COMING FROM EUROPE, PAL! EUROPE! AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN!”), the whole paragraph is unctuous. But what bothers me most is the fact that the spokesperson is claiming that people are paying for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Well, yes, if standing in line for an hour and then saying two words to your idol as they sign your stuff is a once in a lifetime opportunity, then, yes, they are right. Listen, if they were charging this much for a meet and greet, a chance to be in the same room as your idol and, you know, actually have a conversation with them, I think the price would be spot on. But for a brief signing or photo-op where you are rushed through, I think your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Speaking of which, here are some alternate ideas for you in case you can’t justify spending that much for Sly or Sigourney’s autograph (or you couldn’t save up enough dough in time for the show):
- The 3rd Annual NYCC Charity Art Auction: Starting at 8pm on Saturday, October 12, original artwork from many of the artists attending the show will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. You could get a beautiful piece of unique art for a fraction of the price you’d pay to get a picture with Sly, and you’d be helping out a great cause.
- The Hero Initiative: This is a not-for-profit charity dedicated to providing a financial safety net to comic creators in need. Typically, they deal with creators who have accrued great medical bills or have fallen behind on their rent or mortgage. Supporting the Hero Initiative is a great way to support the men and women who helped create comics .
- The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: This is an organization that protects free speech in comics. They typically pay legal fees for comic stores, creators or fans who find themselves in trouble with government agencies over the content of the comic books they sell, create or own. Typically, their booths at cons have items signed by creators such a Frank Miller (Sin City) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead).
- And many, many more charities on the show floor: You’ll find a number of items on the convention floor that donate their proceeds to charity, be it T-shirts that raise money to fight cancer, comic books made to raise awareness of child abuse, or art programs that teach kids through the comics themselves. You don’t have to look very hard to find another charity you can give your money to. And I think that would be a better experience than giving all your money to Celebrity Authentics.