Clifford Irving Biography

Writer Clifford Irving was sent to prison in 1972 and ordered to pay back $765,000 to his publishers when it was determined that his "authorized" biography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes was a fake. Irving had claimed in 1971 that he had tapes, letters and manuscripts from Hughes, and that Hughes had authorized him to write a biography. Irving's tale was greeted with excitement until Hughes, who had not been heard from publicly in over a decade, held a telephone press conference to say that he didn't know Irving and that the whole story was phony. Irving stood by his tale, but experts said the voice they had heard was indeed Hughes', and Irving's handwritten documents were deemed fakes. Irving, his wife Edith and collaborator Richard Suskind all were convicted for their part in the hoax, and Irving spent 14 months in federal prison. After his release from jail, Irving returned to work as a novelist. His books include The Sleeping Spy (1979), Tom Mix and Pancho Villa (1981), and The Spring (1995).

Extra credit:

Irving was played by actor Richard Gere in the 2007 film The Hoax... While Irving was in the middle of his Hughes hoax, he was involved in the filming of the Orson Welles movie F for Fake, a movie featuring the art forger Elmyr De Hory and based on a biography Irving wrote.

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