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Beatles label to get back 'worthless' gold discs

LONDON, England -- The Beatles' record label is set to get back 10 gold discs seized by Britain's Customs and Excise department from the Fab Four 36 years ago.

Beatles spokesman Geoff Baker told CNN.com that their record label Apple "wants to pursue the matter" now official papers have revealed the discs still exist, as museum pieces in the Customs own library.

Documents released by the UK Public Records Office revealed that when the legendary pop group failed to pay import duty on the collection in the 1960s, Customs decided against selling the discs because they laughably concluded they would be worthless.

The discs were awarded in 1964 to each of the group -- Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- and their manager Brian Epstein by record company Capitol to mark huge sales of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Something New" in the United States.

They had made a triumphant tour of the U.S. after touching down on American soil for the first time at New York's Kennedy airport on February 7, 1964.

British newspapers printed extracts from the Customs documents showing that for three years, the department tried to extract import duty from the band's representatives but no amount could be agreed upon.

By 1967, Customs had given up all hope of receiving payment and discussed a possible sale of the discs.

A customs officer wrote to his manager saying: "I have no idea of the price we could expect to realise but I understand then Beatles are on the way out (result of quick market research on teenage neighbours!)."

His manager replied: "If we are to realise anything on these golden discs it means immediate action -- when the Beatle craze is ended, the discs will be valueless."

That prediction proved a little wide of the mark -- in 1999, auction house Sotheby's sold a Beatles gold disc for $14,095.

Beatles spokesman Baker told CNN.com: 'It's an Apple matter. The head of Apple, Neil Aspinall, will be in contact with them."

He said people at the record label were "chuffed" that the band lasted just a little longer in the public eye than the customs officers had predicted.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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RELATED SITES:
UK Customs and Excise
Paul McCartney discography
Beatles Online
UK Public Records Office

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