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Bob Dylan Apologizes Over Autopen Controversy: ‘An Error in Judgement’

Singer cites “bad case of vertigo” and Covid protocols for not-exactly-“hand-signed” copies of The Philosophy of Modern Song

Bob Dylan has apologized to fans following the controversy surrounding the “hand-signed” copies of his new book The Philosophy of Modern Song, with the music legend admitting he employed an autopen after a “bad case of vertigo” and Covid protocols left him unable to personally autograph the limited-edition run.

“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,” Dylan wrote Friday in a rare social media statement. “I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem.”

Dylan continued, “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.”

Soon after the release of The Philosophy of Modern Song, some of those who spent $599 on the limited-edition run of 900 “personally signed” copies — complete with a letter of authenticity — began sharing their autographs online. However, after comparing the signatures, fans soon deduced that the autograph was created using an autopen, which reproduced Dylan’s signature with at least 17 different subtle variations.


After initially rejecting requests for a refund, earlier this week, publishers Simon & Schuster said in a statement that they learned “the limited edition books do contain Bob’s original signature, but in a penned replica form. We are addressing this immediately by providing each purchaser with an immediate refund.”

Dylan added in his statement Friday, “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.”

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