Heights Hoaxster Loses Fraud Case

Laura Albert, nabe resident and the creator of the JT Leroy literary fraud, will have to pay a movie company damages over misrepresenting her novel Sarah as a true story a Manhattan jury decided yesterday.

New York Times: Author Defrauded Movie Company…: As part of its civil verdict, the jury ordered Ms. Albert to pay $116,500 to Antidote International Films, which, in 2003, had signed an option contract with “JT Leroy” to make a feature film of his supposed novel “Sarah,” a tale of filial love and prostitution set among the “lot lizards” of a West Virginia truck stop. When Antidote learned last year that the book had, in fact, been written by Ms. Albert, its president, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, sued for fraud and breach of contract, saying he had been duped and seeking not only the option money back, but damages and attorney fees as well.

Long before this somewhat narrow legal matter reached the courts, the broader saga of JT Leroy, with its agit-prop allure and celebrity aroma, played out on the larger and much more garish canvas of the press. After “Sarah” thrust him into stardom in 2000, JT Leroy became the damaged darling of the arthouse set, a street waif and supposed son of a truck-stop prostitute, who usually by way of telephone or e-mail (he was “famously reclusive”), befriended the likes of Courtney Love and Winona Rider — at least until his startling existence as a fiction was revealed.

All the while, of course, it was Ms. Albert, a mother and otherwise obscure young novelist from Brooklyn Heights, spinning gritty fantasies of drug addiction and Appalachian misery for the rich and famous names at the other end of the keyboard or the line. She gave interviews in a twangy accent to Terry Gross on NPR and sometimes paid her former boyfriend’s half-sister to appear in public as JT Leroy in the rarefied air of literary readings or the international film festival at Cannes.


Share this Story:
  • nabeguy

    Unlike the Frey case, this book was marketed as a novel, not a memoir, so I don’t understand the big deal. A good story is just that, regardless of whether the biggest fiction may be the authors identity.

  • ABC

    I was for her all along. I think she’s so talented.

    And I think the coverage of this story in the Brooklyn Heights Press was so insulting and weird. I almost never agree with the editorial column in that weekly, but this was way too much. “In the early grades at P.S. 8 Laura Albert was known as a chubby but bright girl who was popular with her classmates. From her recent photographs she is now svelt and fashionably dressed.”

    WTF? And those sentences mark the last thing I ever ever read in that paper.

    I know Henrik Krogius had a son in her PS8 class and I remember in an earlier story him writing again about her chubbiness. Funny how he reports she was chubby BUT bright and popular. She testified she was tormented by her classmates and called ‘fat albert’.