From Golden Balls to chestnuts on Hampstead Heath
- Credit: Polly Hancock
The Hampstead Heath chestnut man who owns the TV trademark "Golden Balls" is calling for “justice” eight years after he defeated the organisers of an international football award at Europe’s highest court.
Gus Bodur, 57, last month launched a Twitter campaign for compensation after defeating representatives of the Ballon d’Or trophy in the European Court of Justice in 2013.
Gus said the lives of he and his wife, Inez, have been “held back” since the battle began in 2008.
“We have really suffered. I know other people have suffered as well, but the days we’ve gone without. Our two young kids have really gone through it,” Gus said.
“My wife is not the same as she was. The stress of it is unbelievable. Mentally, it’s been a struggle.”
Gus and Inez registered their Golden Balls brand in 2001 before opening a sports shop on West End Lane, West Hampstead the following year.
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The couple struck gold in 2007, licensing the trademark to a TV production company and expecting a windfall - only to be taken to a European trademark court by the owners of the Ballon d’Or in 2008.
The European Court of Justice became involved, ruling in Gus and Inez’s favour in 2013, and despite appeals afterwards, the couple still own the trademark.
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But the couple’s court costs led to the closure of their West Hampstead shop in 2010. The game show was also cancelled after six series in 2009 when, according to Gus, the show was going to go global, having been piloted in Argentina.
To earn a living, Gus now sells chestnuts in Westfield, Stratford, but took up residence outside Parliament Hill Café this winter as the shopping centre was closed. He sells ice cream on the Heath in the summer.
He said: “I did chestnuts as a young lad, but everyone has great ideas and dreams, and mine was to open up a sports café like Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood.
“All our visions have stopped now. We’ve just been held back so much.”
The Ham&High approached the organisers of the Ballon d’Or for comment but received no reply.