And Finally Artist News

Bob Dylan says using auto-pen to sign books and prints was “an error in judgment”

By | Published on Monday 28 November 2022

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has said that allowing an ‘auto-pen’ machine to be used to scrawl his signature onto books and artwork prints was “an error in judgment”.

This follows the admission last week from book publisher Simon & Schuster that the “hand signed” copies of Dylan’s new book ‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ it had been selling for $599 were not, in fact, hand signed.

That admission in turn followed chatter online that the signatures appearing in the signed copies of ‘The Philosophy Of Modern Song’ were all very similar indeed, albeit with some slight variations having seemingly been built into the machine-based signing process.

The book firm initially denied that the hand signed books were not hand signed, later implying that it had not been aware that an auto-pen had been used. But once it became clear that technology had been employed, Simon & Schuster issued an apology and pledged to refund all the $599s that had been paid by Dylan’s fans.

The man himself admitted in a statement this weekend that the auto-pen has been used to sign artwork prints as well a books. Explaining why, he wrote: “In 2019, I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these signing sessions, and we could not find a safe and workable way to complete what I needed to do while the virus was raging”.

“So, during the pandemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help”, he went on. “With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary worlds”.

However, he then said: “Using a machine was an error in judgment and I want to rectify it immediately. I’m working with Simon & Schuster and my gallery partners to do just that”.

We already know how Simon & Schuster is rectifying the situation, by refunding the money while allowing buyers to keep the book. Meanwhile Castle Galleries, which works with Dylan on his artworks, said in a statement on Facebook: “We were informed late yesterday that during the COVID-19 pandemic Bob Dylan used an autopen to sign several of his limited edition prints rather than his usual hand signature”.

“These editions are: The Retrospectrum Collection prints and the Sunset, Monument Valley print which were released by us this year”, it added. “We can confirm that all other editions were individually hand signed by Bob Dylan himself. We were entirely unaware of the use of autopen on these particular prints, and we sincerely apologise for the disappointment this may cause”.

It then stated: “We will be reaching out to each and every one of our collectors who purchased any print from the above editions to offer a solution to fully rectify the matter. Details on how we intend to resolve this matter will follow shortly”.

So there you go. I’m not sure how many Dylan fans really care whether the signature on their book or artwork was actually scrawled by the musician’s own hand. But either way, both him and his business partners seem to be taking this all very seriously indeed.