Dr Gilbert Lederman allegedly forced late Beatles guitarist George Harrison to autograph a guitar on his deathbed so he could profit from his death and a lawsuit has been filed in New York.
Dr Gilbert Lederman gets massive allegations
Dr. Lederman, who was treating Harrison at the Staten Island University Hospital in New York, is being sued by the former Beatle’s estate with a demand to return the guitar and two cards that were also signed.
Harrison had passed away aged 58, just two weeks after the alleged signing following a long and painful battle with lung cancer and a brain tumour.
Dr Lederman’s “most offensive act” was bringing his son and two daughters to the home where Harrison was receiving radiosurgery treatment only a fortnight before he died in November 2001, the suit claims.
Although Harrison was “in great discomfort”, Dr Lederman insisted that he listen to his son, Ariel, play and then autograph the guitar. The suit alleges that Dr Lederman pushed a pen into Harrison’s hand and coerced him into signing a guitar that belonged to his 14-year-old son.
Harrison resisted the demand and was so weak from radiation therapy that he said: “I do not even know if I know how to spell my own name any more.”
Dr Lederman pressed on, however, and told him: “Come on, you can do this”, while gripping his hand and pressing the pen to the guitar body. The suit adds that Harrison completed his signature “with great effort and much obvious discomfort”.
Shortly after Mr Harrison died Dr Lederman appeared on all the main US TV networks to talk about his work as a radiation therapy specialist.
He also gave an interview to the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, which was illustrated by a picture of Dr Lederman’s son holding the guitar. Some of Harrison’s instruments had sold at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for Harrison’s estate, said: “It was a ghoulish act and it was so outrageous and so abusive that the Harrisons believe the doctor should not get away with it.”
The suit, filed in Brooklyn federal court, accused Dr Lederman of violating Harrison’s privacy by secretly arranging media coverage of his treatment to promote his medical practice. The New York State Health Department has already fined Dr Lederman $5,000 for talking to the press without consent.
Harrison went to Staten Island from Switzerland after Dr Lederman advised his family about the potential benefits of a rare technique for getting rid of big tumours. It has come to light that Dr Lederman denied the allegations. His lawyer Wayne Roth said: “Patients sign things out of gratitude for their physicians all the time.”