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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 18:48 GMT 19:48 UK
Bootleg empire-builder loses kingdom
Mark Purseglove - labelled the "world's biggest bootlegger" - owned a string of properties and lived a lavish lifestyle.

The 33-year-old drove a 104,000 Aston Martin DB Volante, which he kept in the garage of his 1.1m marble-floored townhouse in the exclusive west London district of South Kensington.

Bootlegged music
Packaging for another 100,000 CDs had been prepared
His properties included a 530,000 flat in Chelsea and a 360,000 seafront home in Hove, East Sussex.

He built up a wardrobe of designer clothes and jewellery on the back of the piracy racket which he began when he was just 21.

Purseglove enjoyed luxury holidays and was wearing a 4,500 Rolex when police arrested him.

Investigators also found a receipt at one of his homes relating to the purchase of a Salvador Dali sculpture worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Booming bazaar

He sold his CDs at record fairs or in shops and online on websites, including eBay.

He had international business contacts in the United State, Japan, Singapore, Canada, Austria, Germany and Mexico.

His many eager customers included other dealers in the UK and abroad for recordings by artists Eminem, Madonna, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Kylie Minogue, Oasis, George Michael, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles among others.

The recordings cost him less than a pound to produce and were sold for an average of 15 times that amount - his 1,500% profits made him a multi-millionaire.

About 6m of his 11 years of illegal earnings have now been traced, Blackfriars Crown Court was told, but the actual sum amassed could have been more than twice that.

"He commissioned, manufactured and sold, here and elsewhere, unavailable or illicit recordings of musical works by virtually every well-known artist in the world," prosecutor David Groome said.

Banned, on the run

EMI, the British Phonographic Industry and two members of the Rolling Stones - Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman - all brought injunctions against Purseglove, but he continued his illegal operation, spending six months in a US jail in 1997.

When he was released he was electronically tagged and lived with his aunt in Florida before being fined $5,000 and banned from entering the US for 20 years.

Arrested again at the annual Reading music festival in August 1999, Pursglove was sentenced to four months in December last year.

He commissioned, manufactured and sold, here and elsewhere, unavailable or illicit recordings of musical works by virtually every well-known artist in the world
David Groome
In the meantime, BPI investigators in a surveillance operation, tracked him to storage premises at Warriner Gardens, Battersea where 28,000 fake CDs and packaging for a further 100,000, total value 2 million, were found.

The court heard he had two outlets at Maidstone and Tonbridge, both in Kent.

Recordings were provided by "corrupt" sound engineers, concert goers with handheld devices and copying broadcasts on TV or radio.

Mr Groom announced it had been agreed Purseglove had "benefited to the extent of 6,667,300," and the assets which could be realised for confiscation amount to 1,827,937.

Stopped in tracks

Artists, including ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, were tabled to give evidence against Purseglove had he pleaded not guilty.

Some recordings were stolen studio out-takes but most had been made at concerts.

Purseglove admitted conspiracy to defraud between 1 December, 1991 and 19 June, 2002 - the loss to the music industry is said to be "incalculable".

Millionaire bootleggers jailed
11 Dec 03 |  Berkshire


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