BOSTON (CBS) – A local sports memorabilia shop has confirmed they were the ones who sold Aaron Hernandez‘s now-famous jailhouse letter to TMZ, and they received a pretty penny for it.
Phil Castinetti, the owner of Sportsworld in Saugus, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Friday that he bought the letter from a fan who said he corresponded with Hernandez , who is currently being held without bail at the Bristol County Jail on charges of murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
The fan had written to Hernandez because he said had served time in the same prison. He received a letter back from Hernandez, proclaiming his innocence, and after going back and forth, agreed to sell it to Castinetti on Wednesday.
Castinetti says he paid $4,500 for the letter, which he turned around and sold it to TMZ for $18,000.
“It was kind of eerie, knowing you have a letter that Hernandez had just written,” said Castinetti. “You read all the crazy things he’s been accused of, so it’s just a little weird.”
Before selling it though, Castinetti made sure it was real. He compared Hernandez’s signature to autographs he has in the store, and that he believes it is 100-percent authentic.
“I’ve been in the business for almost 30 years and authenticating autographs is one of the things I do the most,” said Castinetti. “It was pretty easy; he has a distinct signature and it would be impossible for someone to copy it the way it’s done. It’s pretty easy to tell.
“I’m 100-percent positive it’s real,” he said.
While he received $18,000 for it, Castinetti isn’t sure what the letter is actually worth.
“If he is found guilty, I think it will be worth some serious money because of what is said in the letter,” he said.
“I’ve never really handled anything like this. I’ve been doing this a long time and we’ve had some major events in sports memorabilia. This has turned into probably the biggest memorabilia event ever.”