So Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, the Antidote Films producer who recently won a judgment against Laura Albert is now telling Kati Cornell of the NY Post that he spent nearly $1 million to prove “JT Leroy” was a fraud. Specifically, the papers Levy-Hinte filed this week claim “$850,000 in lawyers’ fees and nearly $215,000 in other expenses.”
When I asked people familiar with the world of litigation for comment, they suggested that, assuming Levy-Hinte is telling the truth about how much money he spent, Albert might not be the one who defrauded him. And a look at the sales on Sarah, the book that spawned the film deal that spawned the lawsuit, would seem to bear that out. Levy-Hinte’s saying he spent nearly seven figures over a novel that, when it first came out in 2001, never mustered up 1,000 copies a week in sales during the most red-hot portion of its release cycle, couldn’t even sell half that the week of Leroy’s November 2004 profile in the Sunday New York Times, rarely broke the 100-a-week barrier after the “fraud” became public, and in recent weeks, even with all the publicity of the trial, is still barely managing to find its way off the bookshelves? (By way of comparison, A Million Little Pieces is still selling roughly 2,000 copies a week, and when was the last time you saw James Frey in the news?) That doesn’t inspire much confidence in his financial priorities…or lends some credence to the theory that what he was really after was “the Laura Albert story,” the so-called “meta” film Antidote tried in vain to persuade Albert to let them make after her pseudonymous lifestyle was exposed.