Eric Clapton fans have criticized the Rock & Roll Hall...

Eric Clapton fans have criticized the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer for suing a German widow who inadvertently tried to sell a bootleg CD of his music on eBay. Credit: Getty Images / Gareth Cattermole

Eric Clapton's management is waiving legal fees won by the legendary guitarist following worldwide condemnation for suing a German widow who had briefly put on eBay what she belatedly learned was a bootleg CD. But the star's statement, released Wednesday, drew similar criticism for blaming the unwary woman.

"This case could have been disposed of quickly at minimal cost," the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's management wrote in a more than 400-word statement on Clapton's website, "but unfortunately in response to the German lawyers' first standard letter, the individual's reply included the line 'feel free to file a lawsuit if you insist on the demands.' … If the individual had complied with the initial letter the costs would have been minimal. Had she explained at the outset the full facts in a simple phone call or letter to the lawyers, any claim might have been waived, and costs avoided."

It concluded by saying, "[W]hen the full facts of this particular case came to light and it was clear the individual is not the type of person Eric Clapton, or his record company, wish to target, Eric Clapton decided not to take any further action and does not intend to collect the costs awarded to him by the Court. Also, he hopes the individual will not herself incur any further costs."

The woman, identified in court as Gabriele P., 55, said she had already taken down the CD "Live USA," purchased by her late husband more than 30 years before, by the time Clapton's attorneys filed the suit. "After just one day, the offer was removed from eBay," she told the German tabloid Bild, in a Google translation. "They told me Eric Clapton had complained. The CD is said to have been recorded illegally. I received a warning first, then the ruling. My husband bought the CD in a department store, not somewhere under the counter."

The removed listing had asked for 9.95 euro, about $11. Upon losing the case on Dec. 15 in a Düsseldorf court, the woman was ordered to pay legal fees of 3,400 euro, about $3,850. The news generated fiery social-media commentary, a vast amount of which used obscenities to describe the star.

Clapton, 76, with an estimated worth of approximately $250 million-$380 million, has not commented publicly; his social media on Wednesday posted a condensed version of his management's statement.

The 17-time Grammy Award winner has a history of controversial remarks and actions. These include a racist, anti-immigrant rant during a 1976 concert in England; his 1999 admission of spousal abuse; and his recent public stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Top Stories