Last month, The Daily Beast published a shocking report alleging that various opportunists had targeted Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, attempting to profit off of the 95-year-old’s fame and plunder his fortune. Now, according to TMZ, there’s an even darker dimension to this twisted tale, with reports that Lee’s blood was stolen in order to stamp comic books with DNA ink signatures and turn a truly tainted profit.
TMZ first covered the macabre plot earlier this week, quoting “sources” who alleged that a former business associate of Lee’s “went to Stan’s personal nurse back in October with a forged document giving him authority to order a blood sample from the Marvel maven.”
The post continued, “Our sources claim he told the nurse to fill several vials and she obliged. We’re told she took so much Stan became dizzy.” That original post goes on to reveal that “Stan’s people” suspect the meddling ex-associate of commissioning for-profit pens: “Presumably linked to Stan and Marvel—and the pens have an ink substitute...blood!!!”
It turns out that this vile prediction wasn’t too far off.
According to a new TMZ report published on Thursday, Lee’s blood is being sold. Only instead of pens, the allegedly stolen blood has been used to sign Black Panther comic books. The comics, which the site alleges were for sale at the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. in Las Vegas, were paired with “a certificate of authentication that details the item as a ‘Hand-Stamped Signature of STAN LEE using Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink.’”
TMZ says that the signed comic books sold for as much as $500, adding, “Stan’s legal team is currently weighing its options to go after the former business associate who allegedly lifted Lee’s blood.”
While TMZ doesn’t name that “former business associate,” they say that he’s also suspected of using Lee’s money to buy an $850,000 condo. Those details fit the profile of Jerry Olivarez, whose suspect dealings were a main focus of The Daily Beast’s March report.
In that exposé, Mark Ebner spoke with multiple sources and a spokesperson for JC Lee, Stan’s daughter, who confirmed that Olivarez gained power of attorney over Lee’s affairs for a short period of time following the death of Lee’s wife. Ebner further confirmed that Olivarez is the co-owner of an LLC that controls the Hands of Respect company; a 2016 Washington Post article describes Hands of Respect as Lee’s attempt to lessen the racial divide courtesy of a for-sale “solidarity pin.” The Post article calls the effort a collaboration between Lee and “Bay Area-based employee Jerry Olivarez.”
As The Daily Beast reported, Hands of Respect was the recipient of a contested $300,000 “loan,” which was allegedly written from Lee’s business account “without his knowledge.” Ebner also identified Hands of Respect as “the entity that purchased [a] $850,000 condo.”
Olivarez’s attorney defended the condo purchase to The Daily Beast in March, claiming, “My understanding is that Mr. Lee wanted to have Mr. Olivarez around all the time to look after him, take care of him, advise him and so forth. So if I had to surmise, I would have to say that would be the purpose of the transaction.” As for the $300,000 check, Olivarez’s attorney insisted that, “It’s very clear that the funds went from Stan, or one of his companies, to Hands of Respect. It was just Stan taking funds from one of his companies and moving it to one of his other companies.”
Hands of Respect’s website makes it out to be a Stan Lee-led initiative. Its “About” page reads, “After a lifetime of envisioning superheroes that could make the world a better place, Stan Lee created Hands of Respect to invite us to do the same.” However, Hands of Respect is not technically a charity. A statement on the website, issued in response to “recent coverage Hands of Respect has been receiving,” explains: “Hands of Respect LLC is a for-profit company. Yet to date, the company has not made a profit. Stan Lee had a vision he wanted to share with the world, and the LLC structure allowed us to spread his message of unity and respect right away.
“All revenues generated to date have been used for operating expense, but it is our hope that Hands of Respect LLC will be self-sustaining and generate enough revenue to support non-profit entities that work to bring communities closer, and we are actively pursuing new partnerships aligning with our cause.”
The embattled “for-profit company,” which is still selling its $10 pins as of publication, bills itself as a three person “team”: Stan Lee, Jerry Olivarez, and JC Lee. However, Ebner reported in The Daily Beast that “Stan and JC have since severed ties with the outfit.” JC’s spokesperson told Ebner that JC has seen no money from Hands of Respect, and that “she has no clue how much money it generated. The Lee family will fully audit and scrutinize Hands of Respect going forward.”
In a statement issued to TMZ, Las Vegas’ Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., the venue that was accused of selling the DNA ink-signed comic books, said, “We’re a retail store which purchased product from Hands of Respect LLC and DLK Brand Consulting LLC that appeared certified and obtained with authorization. The books were removed from our shelves immediately.”
Stan Lee and his attorney, Jonathan Freund, did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
On the CGC comics message boards, there’s a thread dedicated to these comic books, with users expressing their skepticism. One user wrote, “The new Avengers Station in Vegas is the only store that is not under Disney contract and they have ‘new’ comics that are certified hand stamp signature of Stan Lee using his Solvent DNA Ink. They have a Thor comic and a Rise of the Blank Panther Variant edition one comic as well. Has anyone heard of this before? The comic retail guy who said he is a comic grader mentioned that last year Stan Lee signed all these himself and only a limited amount. The picture is included. Thanks any info will help.”
Other users suspected a scam, citing, among other red flags, fluctuating prices and a lack of available information. An account named “Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.,” created on the website in March, responded to the thread with a lengthy statement:
“Dear Consumers, Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is a global touring interactive exhibition, in association and produced under the license of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, which is also owned by The Walt Disney Company. Following the October 1, 2017 tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada, Stan Lee’s Hands of Respect™ was moved by the community response of blood donations to help the victims. In response, Stan Lee’s Hands of Respect™ chose to dedicate the introduction of the Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink™ made with the actual blood of Stan Lee to the Las Vegas community. Due to this commitment & passion, Stan Lee donated his blood to create the Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink™. Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink™ was created with the highest of care and standards. Blood was drawn from Stan Lee by a hand-selected nurse and under the direction of Dr. Ram Dandillaya, M.D., FACC, FACP, Clinical Chief of Cardiology, Beverly Hills, California and Stan Lee’s Hands of Respect™ Medical Ambassador. Following the strictest of protocols, Stan Lee’s blood was delivered to Cleansnap™, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of ink products, where a team of chemists developed and uniquely customized in composition specifically for Stan Lee’s Hands of Respect™. Hand-stamped signatures utilizing Stan Lee’s Solvent DNA Ink™ are certified, authenticated and numbered with Certificates of Authenticity.”
The statement concluded, “This product is sold exclusively at the Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. and quantities per comic book hand stamped with Stan Lee’s DNA Ink™ is limited edition.”
The Daily Beast was not able to reach Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. for comment or to confirm the message board statement. Dr. Ram Dandillaya also did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.