Thatscricket - News - Reclusive Bradman plagued by fortune-seekers

Published: Monday, February 26, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Sir Donald Bradman, who died Sunday aged 92, was idolised by generations of Australians as the greatest sportsman in the country's history but his latter years were plagued by people trying to cash in on his name. Last year Prime Minister John Howard personally intervened to protect him from companies trying to use the Bradman name for commercial purposes. The Bradman Museum in Bowral, on behalf of Sir Donald, had spent months fighting companies from cafes to sex shops trying to use the Bradman name. Last October the government made changes to the Corporations Law regulations specifically to prevent anyone from using Bradman's name to suggest a connection that did not exist. Howard, a friend and fan of The Don'', said it was the right thing to do in view of the special place'' he occupies in Australian history. The Bradman Museum applied to the Australian Federal Court to prevent six New South Wales based companies from using the Bradman name. And in Adelaide, plans to rename Burbridge Road as Sir Donald Bradman Drive sparked a furore with a number of businesses on the road intending to use his name. The Bradman Foundation, the charitable organisation that holds the rights to the Bradman name, had demanded a cafe owner on Burbridge Road drop plans to rename the business Bradman's Cafe Restaurant. The restauranteur eventually agreed to compromise by using the name Bradman Drive Cafe Restaurant. Earlier, the Ultimate Risk Sex Shop on the same road registered plans to re-name its business Erotica on Bradman before finally changing its plans. Even more distressing for the intensely private Bradman was the decision by a Sydney bookstore owner to auction off personal letters that included a moving account of his wife Jessie's death. He described the move as intrusive and a betrayal. The letters, written between 1994 and 1998, reveal a frustrated, angry and lonely man after the death of his beloved wife from cancer in 1997 after 65 years of marriage. He lashed out at those trying to cash in on his good name. At 89 years of age, I am not prepared to exist just to satisfy the autograph hunters' requests. People just seem to want my signature before I die,'' he wrote. The letters were sold by his publisher to a Sydney bookstore owner who expected to fetch 20,000 dollars (10,600 US) for them. However, the store owner later withdrew the letters from sale after a negative public backlash and publicly apologised to the Test legend. Bradman's final year was also marred by the knowledge that fake memorabilia with his forged signature was being peddled. Signed bats and balls were being advertised for sale in papers. The Bradman Foundation, formed 11 years ago, operates the Bradman Museum at Bowral, Sir Donald's boyhood home. It also operates a network of licences for a range of goods which use registered trademarks including the mark Bradman''. At one stage The Don had purposely set out to devalue his own signature by complying with the thousands of requests that poured in for his autograph. It was a vain hope as demand for his autograph never declined. And 70 years after his name became famous and 50 years after he retired from the crease, the potential market for Bradman products is estimated to run into millions of dollars. Copyright AFP 2000Extras:
Bradman: End of a legendary era

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