Cleaner sued over trashed Beatles photos

By | April 10, 2007 at 11:47 AM

By Boxes of photographic material – including the only remaining original transparencies from a 1963 Beatles photo session – were thrown out by a cleaner despite a note warning they weren’t trash, a lawsuit filed in Britain’s High Court claims.

Apple Corps. Ltd., guardian of the Fab Four’s commercial interests, and EMI Records Ltd., which distributes the Beatles’ music, filed the lawsuit against the cleaning company, Crystal Services PLC, earlier this year.
The lawsuit, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, says more than
450 photographs, negatives and transparencies were lost, most of which
were EMI’s photographic archive from 1997. Some of the material may be replaceable, the claim acknowledges, but one box included seven transparencies of Beatles photos taken in 1963 by Angus McBean. The photos were used on the cover of “Please Please Me,” the Beatles’ first official album, and the “Red Album,” a compilation released in 1973.

They were “the only remaining original material from the photography from this session, and were historically important and valuable,” the lawsuit says.

It asks for the market value of the Beatles’ material, which is estimated at $1.4 million, as well as other costs.

Apple Corps., EMI Records and Crystal Services all declined to comment.

The lawsuit alleges that one night in January 2001, a cleaner from Crystal Services was working in EMI’s west London office.

The photographs and negatives were stacked in three boxes – awaiting transfer to the company’s archives – and had a note on top saying “not rubbish – do not remove,” according to the lawsuit.

“The cleaner removed the photographic material and disposed of it by placing it for compaction in a waste compactor and collection by refuse collectors,” the lawsuit says. “The compacted waste was removed by refuse collectors, and despite EMI’s best efforts, the photographic material was irretrievably lost.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, Crystal Services’ statement of defense disputes most of the claims made by EMI and Apple, including that there was a note on the boxes saying not to remove them.

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