Jon Bon Jovi criticized for apparent autopen signatures

Autopen has been used by politicians and celebrities since the 1950s

Cover Image for Jon Bon Jovi criticized for apparent autopen signatures
"Forever" is Bon Jovi's 16th studio album and first since the singer had vocal-cord surgery in 2022.

Collectors and fans alike are unhappy with recently purchased Jon Bon Jovi-autographed inserts inside his band's new CDs that appear to be signed by a machine instead of the rock star.

Bon Jovi's 16th studio album, "Forever," was sold on the band's official website, and fans who bought the signed insert immediately took to message boards to complain about the authenticity of the autographs. The inserts appeared to feature machine-generated autographs that were identical to at least five different versions of previous Bon Jovi's signatures. When closely studied, no two signatures by a human ever look exactly the same.

Kevin Keating, the principal autograph authenticator for PSA, examined the signatures and confirmed to cllct the autographs were clearly done by autopen, with classic machine-like tremors in the flow and clear starts and stops. Keating added the signatures would be deemed "not authentic" by PSA.

On May 1, Bon Jovi posted to Instagram, "Hard at Work!," with pen in hand and hundreds of copies of his CDs on the table. Musicians often sign new albums for free to jumpstart sales and get to the top of the charts.

Bon Jovi's signature at left is believed to be authentic, but a PSA authenticator says the one at right appears to be autopen.
Bon Jovi's signature at left is believed to be authentic, but a PSA authenticator says the one at right appears to be autopen.

The album, which was officially released June 7, is Bon Jovi's first since the front man had vocal-cord surgery two years ago.

The band's official website allowed fans to order up to four signed copies for $14 apiece.

Pre-orders started March 15, and the signed CDs seemed to have "sold out" several times.

Eagle-eyed observers in collecting forums screen-grabbed Bon Jovi's Instagram post and noted everything on the table is signed in the top left margin where the autograph could best be seen. Earlier this week, at a live signing in New York, Bon Jovi showed a CD also signed in the upper left corner.

Almost all the signatures that appear to be done by autopen are signed in the darkest space in the photo.

As to who got real signatures by mail and who got autopen signatures, forums say many people who bought the signed CDs on Amazon's UK site got unique signatures, while most of the signatures bought from the official U.S. shop appear to be autopen.

Cllct reached out to Bon Jovi's agent and publicist, both of whom did not immediately return messages. It is not known whether Bon Jovi was aware of the practice. Cllct also contacted the shop via email, but did not get a response.

According to message boards, some fans said they were granted refunds after expressing concern over the signatures.

The autopen began gaining traction in political circles after World War II. It was first used by a president in the 1950s with Dwight Eisenhower, and it continued to be popular with White House figures, including presidents, and sometimes their famous wives such as Jackie Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson.

As autograph collecting came to the forefront, collectors began to voice their displeasure with fakes. In 1976, a column in The Argus of Fremont, California, mentioned how JFK's use of the autopen had resulted in the decline in value of his autograph. When authenticators came into the game, they found many of Kennedy's "Profile in Courage" books had been signed in an identical fashion.

The autopen machine traces an authentic signature and then can duplicate it. President Ronald Reagan reportedly had 22 different autopen signatures.

The political world has traditionally accepted this practice, with the exception of a 2005 controversy when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged he used autopen in condolence letters to families of fallen soldiers.

Given the greater eyes on authentication, it's surprising any celebrity would still use the practice.

No one faced more wrath than Bob Dylan in 2022.

Dylan was forced to apologize after fans paid $599 for a limited edition of 900 books that were advertised as hand-signed by the musician. In his apology, Dylan said he used autopen because he had a "bad case of vertigo" and couldn't fulfill his original intention.

"Using a machine was an error in judgment, and I want to rectify it immediately," Dylan said after the machine-generated signatures were revealed.

In 2016, when Donald Trump's campaign offered signed hats to raise campaign funds, the order page featured a small disclaimer: "Limited supply of hats which include an autopenned Donald J. Trump signature."

Bon Jovi's official site had no such warning.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectibles market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.