Greg Theakston, Sothebys And The Great Jack Kirby Scam

Take one recreation of a classic Jack Kirby cover… by Jack Kirby. Authorised by Marvel and sold in the early nineties for around $10,000.

Greg Theakston, Sothebys And The Great Jack Kirby ScamGreg Theakston, Sothebys And The Great Jack Kirby Scam

Make sure it's authentic.

To help authenticate this piece as being all Jack Kirby drawn art, there is a copy of a page from the Comics buyers guide from the mid 1990's SHOWING jack Kirby actually DRAWING this MAGNIFICENT Cover! And there also is an 8.5 by 12 inch CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY (From Sotheby's Auction house) attached to the back of the frame which has signatures on it from ROSALIND KIRBY, as well as a MARVEL representative, and a SOTHEBY'S representative from June 17, 1994, (just before the public auction took place in New York City)

Pay $70,000 for it. And then wait a few months until, long time Jack Kirby collaborator Greg Theakston alleges that this page, and others like it, were ghosted due to Jack's poor health, with Jack having minimal input.

During the last two years of his life, the family began to offer re-creations of some of Jack's most famous covers. Kirby had quit drawing a few years before and if he couldn't sign his name without some tremor he certainly couldn't transcribe a Comics Code stamp. A ghost artist was enlisted to produce the work, some of which was inked by Kirby's long-time associate Dick Ayers. Even if Kirby could, he wouldn't want to do cover recreation because he hated doing anything twice, much less covers the first time.

Dan Best indicates that one Mike Royer may be the actual artist in question. Purchasers are expressing their anger at the news;

Jared: If my piece was not drawn by Mr. Kirby, it is an absolute and undeniable fraud.  The discussion of ghosting is irrelevant as there is an express representation upon which many people relied to bid on and ultimately purchase this art. I certainly would not have bought it had I suspected Jack Kirby never touched it.  I do not know what to think and I am not sure what steps to take at this point but I believe Sotheby's has a responsibility to verify the pieces it sold are

Mike (a recent seller of the piece above): I just see deception everywhere with what happened if jack didn't draw at least the main figures on these recreations……. yes it IS a "scam publicity shot" then if that makes you feel better……. call it what you want…but NO….. its 100% not legal nor ethical what they did!… anyone who even remotely thinks this is legal or moral is very misguided to
put it nicely.

And Greg Theakston has also commented, also talking about his own history as a ghost artist, but not for Jack.

Greg: I didn't ghost the art, but Roz [Jack's wife] told me who was doing it. This was the only section of the book where I held back anything. I didn't feel that it was right for me to out him because of the ramifications he might face from collectors and dealers. Last thing I want is to bring any heat to a friend.
Bob Kane. He invited me to ghost his work on the limited edition Batman posters and provided me with very tight pencils to finish. This is not to say the pencils were great, but they were complete. It was fascinating to see them as his artistic development seemed to have stalled in 1941, so it was like seeing what the early stories looked like in pencil. I inked, colored and on occasion even signed them. There was no contract, but when he first hired me he asked for me to be discrete. I said, "Bob, I know the drill." I worked on every piece from the film-strip poster to his last published piece, as well as a few specialty pieces that have not seen print.
However, there are those who simply don't believe Greg. From Lencat
I remember seeing the FF 72 cover recreation at Jack's house in Thousand Oaks.
Jack had done the pencils and it was fantastic (no I didn't see him drawing in
person) Mike Thibodeaux penciled and inked the titles/masthead and it was on
it's way to Sinnott for inking the rest. Jack seemed kinda of proud of it and
Roz was beaming over it.
Now here's the kicker: I mentioned something about liking one for myself and
they (Roz or Mike) said I'd have to pick another cover cuz once he did one he
wouldn't do a second recreation of the same cover. Doesn't sound like someone
pulling a scam to make a buck does it?
Jack's hand was shaky towards the end but not all the time. I believe he could
do quality work on his good days.
Shortly after Jack's death I acquired the recreation of FF39 cover (I sold it a year or 2 later) This was done in ALL pencil. I assumed that Thibodeaux did the masthead/word balloons. The rest of the art was kinda shaky. There was and is NO DOUBT in my mind that Jack drew this. I know Roz didn't draw it. I cant imagine them saying to a ghoster "make it look a little shaky". Can you??? (I may still have a copy of it somewhere. I'll search)

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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