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 Famous photo of Elvis in casket shredded in anthrax scare

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charmainejensenvoisine

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PostSubject: Famous photo of Elvis in casket shredded in anthrax scare   Tue Jun 24, 2008 8:35 am



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. The famous National Enquirer photo of Elvis Presley lying in his open casket was shredded during a six-year anthrax decontamination effort on the tabloid's former Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters, according to the newest twist in a federal lawsuit.

The front-page photo from the issue, which sold a whopping 6.5 million copies in 1977, is the center of a dispute between Boca Raton developer David Rustine, who bought the contaminated building at a bargain-basement price in 2003 while it was still sealed and quarantined, and John Y. Mason, whose company, Sabre, was hired to decontaminate it.

In a lawsuit filed in May, Rustine, who values the original photo at $1 million, said Mason held the photo hostage in a dispute between the two over the cleaning. Rustine wants him to return the image or pay for it.

The photo is part of rock music history. For years, it fueled fan-frenzied stories that the King was not dead, that it was all a hoax because the man in the photo didn't look like Elvis. But a 2004 tell-all book by former Enquirer editor Iain Calder laid to rest some rumors when he spilled that the paper paid one of Presley's cousins $18,000 to secretly take the snapshot of the King in his casket.

In October 2001, former Enquirer photo editor Bob Stevens opened a letter containing weapons-grade anthrax spores that killed him and contaminated the building owned by Enquirer parent American Media Inc. The attack has never been solved.

In 2003, Rustine's company, Broken Sound LLC, bought the building once valued at $10 million for $40,000 from AMI. In December 2003, Rustine's Broken Sound and Mason's Sabre entered an agreement to clean and decontaminate the building.

On May 17 or 18, 2005, Rustine alleged Mason said "he would lose the Elvis photo" if the decontamination contract were not extended past a May 31, 2005, deadline.

Mason's countersuit, filed Friday, said Rustine doesn't even own the photo. He said AMI still owns the rights to that photo and millions of other celebrity photos that were contaminated and entombed in the building.

Mason said that AMI's rights to photos and documents in the building were recognized in the decontamination agreement.

According to Mason's countersuit, Sabre began destroying documents and photos in February 2004 at the direction of AMI in-house counsel Daniel Rotstein.

Mason's Sabre argues that it was ordered to destroy all documents and photos until a late 2004 agreement but that by then the Elvis photo was in ribbons.

In the lawsuit, Mason also accuses Rustine of defamation saying he "never threatened to steal or to otherwise withhold the Elvis photos" from Rustine or Broken Sound.

Source Article: http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/news/stories/2008/06/23/elvis_photo_shredded.html
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