Bob Dylan Apologizes for Using an Autopen to Sign High-Priced Artwork and Books

Bob Dylan autopen

Photo Credit: Jean-Luc / CC by 2.0

Bob Dylan apologizes for using an autopen to sign high-priced artwork and books, some of which sold for more than $17,000.

In a rare public statement, Bob Dylan admitted that he regrets an “error in judgment” in using autopen technology to sign artwork and books advertised and sold as hand-signed since 2019. Dylan says using the automated signatures only occurred over the past three years since he was afflicted with vertigo and then through the pandemic when he could not have staff assist him with the hand-signing he had previously done.

“To my fans and followers, I’ve been made aware that there’s some controversy about signatures on some of my recent artwork prints and on a limited edition of ‘Philosophy of Modern Song.’ I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem,” begins Dylan’s statement, published on his Facebook account.

“However, 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. 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.”

“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,” concludes Dylan’s statement.

While it’s unknown whether refunds will be issued or hand-signed replacements provided, customers who bought the $600 limited edition of Dylan’s new book, “Philosophy of Modern Song,” were immediately offered refunds last week. That batch of autographed copies of the book was machine-signed while sold under the pretense of being hand-signed. 

The UK-based Castle Galleries, which has specialized in selling Dylan art prints, issued a statement over the weekend saying it was “reaching out” to collectors who purchased prints from any pertinent editions to “offer a solution to fully rectify the matter.” Presumably, other galleries will follow suit with an announcement forthcoming — particularly as many of the artworks in question sold for more than $17,000.