Tracking Down the Truth: Gretzky Kings

Auction

Grey Flannel Auctions currently has a jersey for auction, listed as a premium auction that states it is a 1989-90 game worn Wayne Gretzky jersey.  As Gretzky is one of the most desirable jerseys, they can fetch a premium in the hobby, however many experts often dispute the legitimacy of Gretzky jerseys among themselves.

Our Game Worn Radio episode that included discussion on this auction sparked some interesting topics and revealed the possibility of a different lineage that what is purported.  On the show, we discussed the 9/10 grade and what could that mean.  Between our readers, listeners and radio show panel many collectors agreed that they didn’t understand the grading system as a game worn jersey is either real or not.

Looking closer, it was discovered that photo-match.com that issued the 9/10 rating has the same mailing address at the bottom of their web pages as the grey flannel auctions pages displays on their footer.  Once of the concerns among the collectors was what seemed a conflict of interest of the auction entity issuing LOAs.  Another concern was an LOA coming from an entity called “Photo-match” but no evidence of an actual photo match.

After the show, we were contacted by an authentic jersey collector who had a Gretzky collection that he referenced selling off in the late 90’s.  Included with the message were pictures taken from an iPhone 7 of 4×6 printed photos of one of the Gretzky jerseys he had in his collection asserting that it was not game worn and was indeed an authentic jersey.

We then compared these pictures to those from the auction and discovered that all signs point to the jersey in the auction being the same jersey from the 4×6 photos.

After checking out the photos and identifying that the shirt in question is the same shirt, we reached out to one of the writers of an LOA for the jersey in the auction lot to see what that person knew about the authentication process.

After talking to the authenticator, it was explained that in the haydays of Gretzky, there were some nefarious people that were very good at crafting jerseys to look exactly like Gretzky jerseys after obtaining real samples, which they utilized to sell as game worn jerseys.  Some of the jerseys were so good that even the best authenticators could be fooled.  From what I have been able to piece together, it seems that one of the jersey creators kept photographs of the jerseys he created.  At one point, these pictures were used to expose an authenticated jersey as being faked.

After talking to the collector who submitted the pictures of the 4x6s, he disclosed that he had sold his collection in the late 90s not long after purchasing the jersey in question from the team store at the LA Kings game.  The collector asserts that there was a limited run of jerseys made to be as exact to the jerseys Gretzky wore.  Since this collector prided himself on obtaining jerseys as close to the real thing as possible, it was obvious he would purchase this jersey.  Later, when it was time for him to finance the remodel of his home, he sold his collection in bulk to another collector that he met at a national memorabilia show.

Upon this information, we again spoke to one of the authenticators who asserted that they had never heard of a team selling such jerseys and questioned the 4×6 photos the collector had positioning that they could have been taken by other means.

The collector has provided many pictures in support of his assertions.  Pictures of the jerseys he had in his collection with other Gretzky memorabilia, many of which are laid out on the same looking carpet for continuity purposes.  The pictures of the 4×6 were taken at an angle to reduce glare.  These are just a sample of the quantity sent.

Finally, as an added bonus, the collector sent some pictures of a visit he spent with Walter Gretzky, Wayne’s father who allowed him to photograph the Wayne Gretzky game worn jerseys and memorabilia he had in the basement.  I have included a large number of these images due to the awesome nature.

Yes, I asked what the heck was up with the Red Wings jersey.  The collector states that Walter said Detroit made a pitch for Wayne to play for them and made the jersey for him as a gift.  The collector asserted that Wayne believed he had all his game worn jerseys at the time and none were available, so he would have to settle for the next best thing which would be the as close to exact authentic sold by the team in the store.

Grey flannel still asserts that they jersey they have was obtained 25 years ago from the family of Larry Robinson and are running it with confidence.  Outside of the documents created by grey flannel, I have yet to see any additional evidence supporting this claim.

This story is still currently being developed and will be updated as new information is exposed.