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August 26, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ A white Mercedes owned by George Harrison and used in the Beatles’ film ″Let It Be″ sold for $29,740 at an auction of rock memorabilia, Christie’s auction house said.

The 1969 car drew the highest price of any of the 426 items on sale Thursday, said Victoria Wolcough of Christie’s.

Other auction highlights included handwritten lyrics to ″Whatever Gets You Through the Night,″ John Lennon’s first hit after leaving the Beatles, which went for $10,224; a pair of Michael Jackson’s dancing shoes, which fetched $5,577; and the first major collection of clothing owned by the late punk rocker Sid Vicious to be sold, which went for more than $16,900.

″It was an enthusiastic crowd, a very busy auction,″ said Ms. Wolcough, adding that buying was dominated by Warren Stone of the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles and by Brian Murphy of the London Hard Rock Cafe.

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OAKVILLE, Calif. (AP) - Robert Mondavi, the dean of California vintners, celebrated the 1988 harvest with the annual blessing of grapes and the start of the crush in Napa Valley.

Beaming under a cloudless, sunny sky Thursday, the energetic, 75-year-old Mondavi told tourists and guests crowding the crushing area at his winery, ″This is our 23rd vintage ... thank you for coming.″

The crowd applauded after the Rev. Andre Tournier of St. Joan of Arc Church in Yountville, wearing a 200-year-old robe, blessed the grapes with new juice and holy water.

After the blessing, Mondavi made a small speech, then wine was served from tables lining the rear of the crush area.

In 1966, Mondavi built Napa Valley’s first new winery since Prohibition. He began a quality-building program that, less than 10 years later, helped California wine compete successfully with world-class European wines for the first time.

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Lawyers for the Beatles’ licensing company have filed suit over what they charge are pirated compact disc recordings of songs and interviews by the former rock group.

″It not only rips off the Beatles, it rips off the public,″ said attorney Paul LiCalsi, representing London-based Apple Corps Ltd.

The eight pirated CDs include a 1961 audition tape the Beatles made for Decca records and a 1962 live performance in Hamburg, he said Thursday.

The suit names Jay Chernow of Sayreville and two companies, San Juan Record and Tape Club Ltd. and Music Rent, both of Parlin, among other defendants.

Reached for comment, Chernow said he was the president of the companies, which only do licensing. He said the music and interviews were legally licensed and denied the allegations in the suit.

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SALZBURG, Austria (AP) - Austrian maestro Herbert von Karajan, the No. 1 attraction of the Salzburg festival for 30 years, announced his resignation from the five-member festival directorate.

Von Karajan, 80, who suffered a circulatory collapse last week and had to cancel three conducting appearances, was the festival’s sole artistic director in 1956-60 and has been on the directorate since 1964.

Von Karajan’s terse letter Thursday to festival president Albert Moser gave no reasons for the surprise decision, prompting speculation the maestro may have quit in a huff rather than because he is ill. A copy of the letter was published by the Austria Press Agency.

For years, the festival has been the target of media criticism for being elitist, too expensive and too conservative. The quality of some of the performances also has been disputed.

In a statement, the directorate noted the world-famous conductor’s decision ″with the greatest regret.″

The statement said it was ″understandable″ that von Karajan might want to lessen his administrative duties to concentrate on artistic work and added the festival ″will do all in its power″ to secure him as a conductor for concerts and operas in future.

Von Karajan has conducted at the famed summer music festival since 1948.

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A defamation lawsuit filed by a musician against rock star Billy Joel has been dismissed by the Nevada Supreme Court because the musician’s lawyer failed to file a timely notice of appeal.

Carson City musician John Powers sued after Joel called him ″a creep″ and ″a poor little schlump″ and said he would like ″to break his legs with my own hands″ in a 1982 Playboy magazine interview.

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the case Wednesday ended a 10-year legal battle that began when Powers sued Joel, claiming Joel’s 1978 hit ″My Life″ was originally recorded by Powers.

Joel settled that suit in 1980 for $42,500, later saying his attorneys and business manager told him to settle it as a nuisance suit because it would cost him more to fight it.

Part of the settlement was that Powers stop claiming the Joel hit was a song Powers recorded in 1974. But Powers allegedly continued to claim Joel’s song was stolen, prompting Joel’s comments in the magazine interview.

The state Supreme Court appeal was filed after a Reno judge ruled in April that Joel didn’t commit slander or defamation although his remarks appeared to vilify Powers.

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TORONTO (AP) - The Stratford Festival has named veteran English actor- director David William as its next artistic director, succeeding Canadian John Neville.

William, who emigrated to Canada in 1986, will work with Neville throughout the 1989 season and take over in 1990 under a three-year contract, the festival announced Thursday.

William, 62, has performed Shakespeare on London stages and played Richard II in the BBC-TV series ″The Age of Kings.″

The Stratford theater festival, in Stratford, Ontario, is in its 36th season.

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