CBS News reported last week that physician Gilbert Lederman has been accused of forcing a weakened George Harrison to autograph a guitar for his teenage son just two weeks before the ex-Beatle died of lung cancer and a brain tumour. A lawsuit filed by Harrison's estate claims that the musician tried to resist the request, saying "I do not even know if I know how to spell my name anymore." The suit alleges that Lederman responded by saying "Come on, you can do this" and held Harrison's hand as the musician wrote his name on the guitar "with great effort and much obvious discomfort". The estate is seeking to recover the guitar and two cards it says Harrison signed when Lederman was treating him. Harrison's widow and son believe that a National Enquirer story about Harrison's death, featuring Lederman's son holding the instrument, was orchestrated by Lederman to raise the item's value. "George was literally lying there dying and the doctor forced George to sign a guitar", said Paul LiCalsi, attorney for Harrison's estate. "The doctor should not be permitted to profit from this behaviour." The estate also accused Lederman of violating Harrison's privacy by orchestrating invasive media coverage in the interest of promoting his medical practice. Lederman conducted interviews about Harrison with several news outlets, many within hours of the ex-Beatle's death, the suit charges. The New York State Health Department has reprimanded Lederman for talking to the press about Harrison without his consent. Documents indicate that Lederman accepted his censure: a reprimand and a $5,000 fine. He has also been removed as head of radiation oncology at the Staten Island University Hospital. Lederman's attorney Wayne Roth denied the allegations. He said Lederman's son still plays the guitar and that the family has no intention of selling it (though they have since offered to donate it to charity). The instrument, valued in connection with a state investigation of Lederman's treatment of Harrison, is worth less than $10,000, Roth said.

The IPKat marvels at the initiative allegedly taken by this doctor to leverage the profile of his medical practice and to obtain signed celebrity souvenirs. Once it was standard practice for patients, on admission to hospital, to be made to sign consent forms that enabled medical practitioners to cut them into pieces or stick tubes up them without threat of legal action. But now the IPKat looks forward to drafting a form for the hospital staff to sign, limiting their ability to exploit their patients’ names, likenesses, personalities and identities. Finally, the IPKat finds it hard to see how the alleged facts add up to an invasion of privacy. Dr Lederman had access to Harrison as a patient; the signing of the guitar was more an exploitation of his rights of publicity than his privacy rights and the interviews conducted after Harrison's death took place at a time when Harrison, and hence his right to privacy, had ceased to be.

George Harrison’s oeuvre here
Lyrics and guitar chords for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”


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