NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

Post news stories and home video release announcements here.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4852
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostThu Jul 24, 2008 8:06 am

July 24, 2008
She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging
By JULIE BOSMAN

“The Letters of Noël Coward,” a critically acclaimed book published by Alfred A. Knopf last year, includes a short, gossipy note from Coward on the subject of Julie Andrews.

“She is a bright, talented actress,” Coward writes. “And quite attractive since she dealt with her monstrous English overbite."

But the letter, and another much like it, were actually written by Lee Israel, a biographer and editor in New York who spent two years writing forgeries from her studio apartment on the Upper West Side and then selling them to autograph dealers around the country.

Or so Ms. Israel says in her new memoir, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” in which she confesses to a host of offenses, both criminal and literary, and recounts how she was eventually caught by a dealer who took his suspicions to the police.

“For me, this was a big hoot and a terrific compliment,” Ms. Israel gleefully writes in her book, as she notes that two of her phony letters were “taken to be the real thing” by Barry Day, who edited the book on Coward.

Yet despite her admitted fakery of more than 400 letters, Ms. Israel insists that her own memoir, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in August, is true to the facts. Her editor, Sarah Hochman, said the publisher had thoroughly vetted the book and stands by its accuracy. (A disclaimer in the book notes that “the characteristics of some individuals and chronology of some events have been changed.”)

“Even when we read these things and get excited about them, they’re done on a case-by-case basis,” Ms. Hochman said. “We try to think about what the author is saying and how she is saying it.”

These are tough times in the publishing industry for memoirs, since several books recently have been partly, if not completely, discredited.

When Ms. Israel first brought her book to Simon & Schuster, it was in the middle of “Memoirgate,” as she called it, when the publishing industry was on high alert for the next James Frey.

“Memoirgate, as interesting as it was and as much anxiety as it caused me,” Ms. Israel said in a telephone interview, “apparently did not cause them enough anxiety.”

Hers is not a memoir in the style of Margaret Seltzer, whose account, as Margaret B. Jones, of gang life in South-Central Los Angeles turned out to be completely bogus; or Mr. Frey, whose books “A Million Little Pieces” and “My Friend Leonard” contained exaggerated and fabricated details about his drug addiction and recovery.

“Their memoirs were fraudulent, and my memoir is not fraudulent,” said Ms. Israel, who gave her age as “somewhere in my 60s.” “But I did fraudulent things.”

She has written a dry, breezy book, only about 18,000 words long, so slim that she originally intended it to run as a long magazine piece somewhere, maybe The New Yorker. (It was rejected there, she said.)

The book, which was recently optioned for a film, recounts her stint as a “literary forger,” as Ms. Israel calls it, which began around 1991, when she was jobless, broke and living in a fly-infested apartment with her 21-year-old cat, Jersey.

She had already written three books, including biographies of Tallulah Bankhead and Estée Lauder, and her status as a published author granted her entry into libraries and archives containing valuable documents. One day, after coming across a trove of Fanny Brice letters at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Ms. Israel said, she stuffed three of them into her socks and walked out.

After consulting the Yellow Pages for autograph dealers, Ms. Israel said, she sold them for $40 apiece to the Argosy Book Store in Manhattan and quickly began forging her own letters, purportedly from Brice, Coward, Louise Brooks, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker. (Ms. Israel’s book title comes from an invented line in a phony letter attributed to Parker.)

Her forgeries were good enough to fool many autograph dealers, but by the summer of 1992 she began to draw suspicion and was eventually caught in an F.B.I. sting. Judge Robert W. Sweet of the Federal District Court in Manhattan sentenced her to five years’ probation and six months’ house arrest.

After years of regaling friends at dinner parties with her story — “It never failed,” she said — Ms. Israel wrote it all down, adding that two of her Coward letters had been published in the Knopf book.

Kathy Zuckerman, a spokeswoman for Knopf, said on Wednesday that the forged letters would be removed from the paperback edition of “The Letters of Noël Coward,” which is to be published in 2009.

While contrite at times, Ms. Israel’s book is hardly a mea culpa. She writes that she regrets stealing letters from libraries but does not apologize for selling her forgeries to autograph dealers, who she said vastly inflated their resale price.

“Those letters never misrepresented any large truth,” Ms. Israel said. “They were fun, and nobody got hurt, and everybody made money.”

Perhaps not Naomi Hample, an owner of Argosy Book Store, who said in an interview on Wednesday that she lost thousands of dollars from buying Ms. Israel’s forged letters, most of which had to be trashed after they were discovered to be fake.

“It was horrific,” said Ms. Hample, who is mentioned frequently by name in the book. “I lost a lot of money because everything that I bought from her unwittingly, I couldn’t sell.”

But while Ms. Hample worried that she would be “besieged” after Ms. Israel’s book comes out next month, she added she did not harbor any ill will toward her.

“I’m certainly not angry anymore, though it was an expensive and very large learning experience for me,” Ms. Hample said. “And she’s really an excellent writer. She made the letters terrific.”
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 9294
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

PostThu Jul 24, 2008 12:31 pm

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.


-- Ancient Chinese proverb quoted by James Doohan as Scotty in Star Trek
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4852
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostThu Jul 24, 2008 1:11 pm

silentfilm wrote:Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.


-- Ancient Chinese proverb quoted by James Doohan as Scotty in Star Trek


Apparently there isn't much of a downside for this type of chicanery, is there? I was sort of fascinated by Argosy bookstore owner Naomi Hemple's response to having thousands of dollars stolen by the self-absorbed little sleaze. "Oh darn, I was really in a snit at first--but gosh! the letters are so well-written." I assume that she's afraid of adversely affecting her memorabilia business but HELL AND DAMNATION. This is precisely the reason lawyers were invented. I'd be thinking about calling my lawyer if I'd only bought the book, let alone spent large on ebay for fraudulent letters.

And what's up with Simon & Schuster? You know the woman is a liar, why waste the trees? "Fat profit" isn't a good enough reason. You can make fat profits by selling children to white slavers. From now on I will certainly think long and hard before purchasing anything from S&S that purports to be non-fiction.

I say this like there isn't a cottage industry of fraudsters writing "movie-star biographies."

Fred
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 9294
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

PostSat Aug 02, 2008 9:19 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/books/review/Mallon-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Forging On
E-MailPrint Save Share
LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxYahoo! BuzzPermalink

By THOMAS MALLON
Published: August 3, 2008

In the annals of literary forgery, William Henry Ireland had Shakespeare (“Vortigern and Rowena” — who knew?), Thomas Chatterton the nonexistent medieval poet Rowley, and Lee Israel, well, the silent-film star Louise Brooks. Pretty far down Parnassus, you say? Don’t be a snob. Israel displayed an excellent ear and fine false turn of phrase during the 15 or so months in the early 1990s when she sold hundreds of phony celebrity letters — and a lot of filched real ones — to about 30 different dealers. Now, all these years later, she’s written a slender, sordid and pretty damned fabulous book about her misadventures.

Kept to the straight and narrow, Israel coulda been somebody. In fact, she was: a well-regarded biographer of Tallulah Bankhead and Dorothy Kilgallen who, around 1990, was about to enter what “a court officer would later describe ... as a ‘rough patch.’ ” She was drinking and spending too much, and romancing too hard (“a brilliant, beautiful bartender named Elaine”). A third biography, of the cosmetics queen Estée Lauder, bombed with reviewers and book buyers. Israel soon found herself hitting 50 and on welfare, harassing professional acquaintances and exasperating friends. She tried to keep going by selling some of her home library to the Strand bookstore, whose clerks eventually threw her out. “I was not in the flower of mental health,” she admits, with understatement worthy of the above-quoted court officer.

Her West Side studio apartment began to accumulate cat feces and flies. Then the cat died and its replacement, Doris, needed a vet whose bills Israel couldn’t pay. It was about then that criminal inspiration struck. In the course of researching an article for Soap Opera Digest at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, she stole three rather ordinary letters by Fanny Brice and was able to sell them for $40 each. Israel, who would come to believe that most dealers didn’t know that “provenance was not the capital of Rhode Island,” felt no guilt: the letters she’d stolen “were from the realm of the dead. Doris and I were alive.”

Having learned that the first dealer “would pay more for better content,” Israel was soon advancing to her own full-tilt production of letters from other luminaries. She bought a gaggle of vintage manual typewriters, had famous letterheads printed up on antique paper and used an old television as a light box on which she could trace signatures. Even so, while writing as Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber and, most convincingly, Louise Brooks, Israel remained more an enhancer than an outright fabricator. She would use some of her subjects’ best real lines (Brooks on the studio head Harry Cohn: “My cat has spit up hairballs more attractive than him”) and take care with the chronology of their lives. The seams rarely showed. Indeed, the editor of “The Letters of Noël Coward,” published only last year, included two Israel pastiches — “a big hoot and a terrific compliment,” thought the erstwhile forger. (I reviewed the book and never batted an eye.)

Still, a bit of implausibility where Coward was concerned — having him write more candidly about his homosexuality than he would have allowed himself to — raised suspicions in one of the playwright’s friends who was also a collector. Israel fell into her first pot of hot water. Some outlets would no longer touch what she was selling; a grand jury began investigating; one New York dealer said he’d refuse to testify if she paid him $5,000. The danger blew over, but Israel, now living in a “constant state of anxiety,” decided to move on to a surer-fire if less creative m.o. — having a middleman, a wacky ex-con pal, fence only actual letters she stole from archives. To throw off the archivists, she would leave behind well-crafted replicas that she had prepared after careful study and note-taking. Sometimes she would spirit the originals past reading-room attendants in her shoe. Even so, the F.B.I. eventually caught on to the new scheme, and she couldn’t get rid of those manual typewriters fast enough, dumping them “one by one, in trash cans along a mile stretch of Amsterdam Avenue.” Thanks to a hard-working lawyer from the Federal Defenders Program as well as a kind-hearted judge, she got away with five years’ probation and six months’ house arrest.

This second phase of her forgery career — purely mechanical and almost as dreary as plagiarism — makes one long to hear more of the first, in which Israel could be seen using talents she once brought to legitimate biography. She acutely characterizes her various ventriloquial quarries: Edna Ferber is “a scold, a snob, a low-profile dominatrix whose corseted asperity was never far from busting out,” and Brooks is “the left-hemispheric actress turned essayist and critic” who during the 1960s found “her legend among cinéastes swelling like popcorn.” Any guilt that Israel does feel, vet bills notwithstanding, comes from considering the up-and-up work she once managed to do in archives and libraries, and her realization that “messing with those citadels was unequivocally and big-time wrong.”

Israel is the kind of Manhattan eccentric who might once have caught the attention of Joe Mitchell. Fortunately, she’s a vivid enough writer to capture, memorably, her own nerve and occasional nastiness. Israel is very hard to like on a couple of occasions, each candidly recounted, and it doesn’t surprise a reader to hear that Jack Hock, her partner in the second forgery phase, was “somewhat afraid” of her. But he too goes into this book’s wonderful little gallery of grotesques, recalled by the author as a chain-smoker who “believed that the little stubby cigarette holder he fastened to the ends of cigarettes would keep him cancer-free.” Israel is, of course, her own best character, frantically riding the subway toward her scheduled guilty plea while hearing “some kind of hum from the older back of my brain ... the hum chewing over the horror of imprisonment ... out of earshot, maybe in Yiddish so as not to upset me.” Told by the merciful judge “that he never wanted to see me again ‘in this context,’ ” she hears the words as being “not a total rejection.”

There’s no honor in anything she did, but after reading “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” it’s hard to resist admitting Israel to the company of such sharp, gallant characters as Dawn Powell and Helene Hanff, women clinging to New York literary life, or its fringes, by their talented fingernails. Israel tells us she went on to spend “six sufferable years” as a copy editor of “classroom magazines at Scholastic, the Spring Byington of the publishing world.” That still, rather ominously, leaves a lot of time unaccounted for. If I were a librarian, I wouldn’t let Lee Israel through the door, but I’d certainly make sure I had her latest book on the shelves. If I were an editor, I’d sign her up to write a biography of Louise Brooks — and not just to keep her out of trouble.

Thomas Mallon is the author of “Stolen Words: Forays Into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism.” His study of letters, “Yours Ever,” will be published next year.
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4852
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostSun Aug 03, 2008 8:51 am

silentfilm wrote:There’s no honor in anything she did, but after reading “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” it’s hard to resist admitting Israel to the company of such sharp, gallant characters as Dawn Powell and Helene Hanff, women clinging to New York literary life, or its fringes, by their talented fingernails. Israel tells us she went on to spend “six sufferable years” as a copy editor of “classroom magazines at Scholastic, the Spring Byington of the publishing world.” That still, rather ominously, leaves a lot of time unaccounted for. If I were a librarian, I wouldn’t let Lee Israel through the door, but I’d certainly make sure I had her latest book on the shelves. If I were an editor, I’d sign her up to write a biography of Louise Brooks — and not just to keep her out of trouble.


1. No honor, but apparently there will be money.
2. Neither Dawn Powell nor Helene Hanff were crooks.
3. Yes, of course. And I'll be first in line to buy that bio of Brooks. Yesireebob, you betcha.
4. Sorry about the cat. Still not an excuse.

Fred
Offline
User avatar

Harlett O'Dowd

  • Posts: 2092
  • Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:57 am

PostWed Aug 06, 2008 8:04 am

Frederica wrote:1. No honor, but apparently there will be money.
2. Neither Dawn Powell nor Helene Hanff were crooks.
3. Yes, of course. And I'll be first in line to buy that bio of Brooks. Yesireebob, you betcha.
4. Sorry about the cat. Still not an excuse.

Fred


here's more, from the Post's answer to Winchell:

http://www.nypost.com/seven/08062008/en ... 123213.htm

FORGING A LITERARY PATH
DISGRACED BIOGRAPHER FINDS CRIME PAYS NICELY
Fake letters attributed to Noel Coward (above) led to the arrest of Lee Israel, a biographer turned forger.


Posted: 2:58 am
August 6, 2008

I'VE never forgotten the day Lee Israel, biographer and literary forger, showed up at my office with a haunted look in her eyes and begged me for the $150 we owed her.

It was 1992 and I was co-editor of TheaterWeek magazine, a tiny publication that was always on the verge of bankruptcy. We owed a lot of writers money back then - Arthur Miller, John Simon, Eric Bentley and Lee, who contributed several terrific articles about the history of Broadway.

Lee stood in our dumpy offices on West 25th Street and pleaded for the money. I said I'd see what I could do, though I doubted our publisher, who was forever ducking angry writers, would cut her a check on the spot.

"Michael, I need it right now because I have to leave the country," she said. "I'm going to Mexico."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I'm going to be arrested."

Slight pause. "For what?"

"I've been stealing letters by Eugene O'Neill from the Yale library and replacing them with fakes."

That was a new one, but it worked. I got her the $150 and hustled her out the door.

I didn't see Lee again until last week, when we met for drinks at Julius, one of her favorite dives in the West Village.

"I don't remember wanting to go to Mexico," she said, sipping a scotch, "but I had all sorts of wild ideas at the time. I think my plan was to hide in my parents' closet in Florida. But I remember you didn't approve of what I did, Michael."

Can you blame me?

Between 1990 and 1992, as she recounts in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" - her newly released and gripping memoir - Lee forged some 400 letters by such literary celebrities as Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman and Edna Ferber. Dealers paid her about $100 per letter, which they in turn sold for as much as several thousand dollars.

When some of her letters were revealed as fakes, she switched tactics. Pretending to be working on a book about famous alcoholic writers, she gained access to rare book and manuscript libraries. There she stole genuine letters by William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, Kurt Weill and O'Neill. At night, pecking away on vintage typewriters, she'd make forgeries. Then she'd return to the library, substituting the fakes for the real ones.

An eccentric friend of hers (now dead) sold the authentic letters to dealers who, she writes, "thought provenance was the capital of Rhode Island."

It was an ingenious plan, and it worked - until the afternoon a man tapped her on the shoulder, showed her his FBI badge and asked if they could have a chat.

What tripped her up were some fake Noel Coward letters that revealed too much about his homosexuality. An astute dealer realized that, at the time the letters were supposed to have been written, Coward would never have spoken so openly.

In her memoir, Lee, who was sentenced to six months' house arrest and five years' probation, expresses little remorse. There's a three-page mea culpa, but you'd be hard-pressed to call it "heartfelt."

"They asked for the mea culpa," she says of her publisher, Simon & Schuster. " 'Oh, Lee, you have to have a mea culpa.' Well, I do. It's short and quick and at the end."

She isn't wracked with guilt, she says, because she desperately needed the money. Her career as a highly regarded biographer was on the skids at the time because of the failure of her book about Estée Lauder.

"You always said I was too good a writer to be so poor," she reminded me.

Many of the dealers she fleeced were a shadowy lot, she says, and she suspects they were on to her. They had clients who were easy to fool and were happy to get her letters so cheap, no questions asked.

"There was a guy in New Hampshire who used to call me up and say, 'Lee, I need a Bill Holden,' " she says.

And the people who bought her fakes "probably could afford them," she says.

Besides, her criminal career got her "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" - which has been optioned by the movie company that produced "The Savages."

Bob Balaban wants to write it and direct.

A man at the next table who'd been listening to us leaned over and said: "Lee, I have to ask you: Don't you regret that you didn't put all your energy and creativity into something legitimate instead of something illegal?"

"No," she said, laughing. "Because it's paying off big-time!"

[email protected]
Offline
User avatar

boblipton

  • Posts: 5925
  • Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:01 pm
  • Location: Clement Clarke Moore's Farm

PostWed Aug 06, 2008 8:20 am

I hope the collectors who bought her faked goods sue her. Of course, she will probably plead the exigencies of her cat and declare bankruptcy.

Reminds me of the woman who faked interviews for her articles for a Texas paper, then wrote a biography blaming her parents. The last thing I saw from her was an insane op-ed piece on 9/11 in which she mused with great concern about the effects of it all on peoples' pets.

Peoples' self-involvement and ability to produce bullshit forgivenness for themselves seems endless, doesn't it?

Bob
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4852
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostWed Aug 06, 2008 9:57 am

boblipton wrote:I hope the collectors who bought her faked goods sue her. Of course, she will probably plead the exigencies of her cat and declare bankruptcy.

Bob


Collectors, hell. FBI fraud investigations aren't cheap--we the taxpayer paid for that. I want it back. And she can declare bankruptcy until she turns blue, the Feds will chuckle at her pesky bankruptcy.

Fred
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 9294
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

PostThu Aug 07, 2008 1:53 pm

http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-et-book6-2008aug06,0,834725.story

BOOK REVIEW
'Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger' by Lee Israel
By Jonathan Shapiro, Special to The Times
August 6, 2008

LEE ISRAEL fancies herself a rather gifted fabulist. Federal prosecutors in New York disagreed. Not known for their tact, they called her a thief. A judge agreed, so now Israel is a felon. But nobody has ever accused her of being boring.

"Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger" chronicles Israel's harrowing descent from legitimate writer to low-rent crook. In the early 1990s, the author of well-regarded but commercially unsuccessful biographies of Tallulah Bankhead and Estee Lauder found herself adrift in her Upper West Side apartment, broke, unable to pay her significant bar tab or land a new book contract.

Dorothy Parker"I was imprudent with money and Dionysian to the quick," she confesses, though not with a great deal of shame. Salving her disappointments with hate-filled anonymous calls to former colleagues, Israel cast about unsuccessfully for a suitable book subject, preferably someone famous or infamous enough to attract a hefty advance.

Women of greater strength -- Israel would say of lesser ingenuity -- might have taken a job outside the glittering world of letters. But mundane work held no appeal to a woman of Israel's delicate artistic sensibility. She turned to crime instead.

Israel had what was, for her, an original thought. While writing about famous people was a time-consuming process with uncertain returns, selling the writings of famous people meant quick, easy cash: "Thinking of celebrity letters as salable things rather than primary sources of information was new to me." But, bless her heart, she took to it like a duck to water.


In just two years, Israel says she forged and sold approximately 400 letters purported to have been written by literary figures including Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker. When an unwitting buyer mentioned that better content produced higher prices, Israel was inspired. Freed from the burden of integrity, relieved of her obligation to accuracy, Israel let her imagination run wild.

"I have a hangover out of Gounod's 'Faust' " Israel has Parker write in one forgery, a bit over the top, perhaps, but memorable. Dropping references to Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and the Kennedys in a forged letter from Louise Brooks proved money in the bank. Coward writing that he looked forward to seeing Marlene Dietrich because the "canny old Kraut remains one of my most cherished friends" should have struck someone as too good to be true. It didn't.

On the contrary, Israel chortles that her forgery of Coward was included in Barry Day's 2007 "The Letters of Noel Coward." "For me, this was a big hoot and a terrific compliment."

Like any grubby counterfeiter, she became obsessed with paper, ink and watermarks.

She prowled used hardware stores for manual typewriters, swiped old stationery and notebook paper where she could find it, and lived like a pack-rat in her crowded apartment, surrounded by her forger's tools.

But she never lost her writer's ego, or its pathetic need for affirmation. She was proud of her ability to forge signatures, "[b]ut it was the content, style, and humor that really sold the letters . . . that made me for a time the sensation of the raffish autograph business."

Israel proudly reprints a number of her forgeries in the book, which raises a number of interesting questions.

How is one to review the quality of fraudulent letters? Does one use objective criteria based on historical accuracy, as Israel does, pointing out how detailed her research was, and how closely her frauds hewed to the known record? Or is the gold standard more subjective, based on the style and strength of deception? And can Israel or anyone else create a Lillian Hellman letter that's more fraudulent than what Lillian Hellman wrote herself?

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" is an entertaining read that showcases Israel's many gifts as a writer, as well as her tragic defects as a human being. Caveat emptor: It is the work of a self-confessed liar.

Not even the title is authentic. Israel's plea for forgiveness is disingenuous. She considers herself quite a good forger, despite having been caught, and blames others for her plight, including the dolt whom she duped into selling the letters for her, and the publishing industry itself that forced her to take such desperate measures.

While she's proud to be a forger, Israel was actually convicted of stealing. Criminal literary pretensions aside, Israel swiped documents from college libraries, low crimes indeed, no more clever than shoplifting a bottle of aspirin from a drugstore, another crime Israel admits to.

But, then, "Memoirs of a Shoplifter" probably wouldn't have sold.

Israel is funny but venomous, in turns self-hating and self-serving; no wonder she was so adept at mimicking the likes of Edna Ferber, Parker and Brooks. Israel admired tough New York literary broads, shared their mercurial tendencies and easily aped their voices. All that Israel lacked was their talent, integrity and character.

Jonathan Shapiro, a former federal prosecutor, is an adjunct law professor at USC and a co-executive producer on the NBC television drama "Life."
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4852
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

Woman of Letters

PostSat Aug 16, 2008 5:13 pm

Biographer Eve Golden and dealer David Lowenherz weigh in on Lee Israel's "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/books ... ref=review

New York Times Sunday Book Review
August 17, 2008
Letters
Woman of Letters
To the Editor:

As a biographer, no, I cannot ever forgive Lee Israel, the author of “Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger” (Aug. 3). The letters she forged make a mockery of writers’ attempts to seek out the truth when researching books. But Israel gets a Simon & Schuster contract for her crimes and thinks the whole thing is “a big hoot.” As for me, I’d like to see her head on a pike in front of the New York Public Library, as a warning to others.

Eve Golden
Lyndhurst, N.J.



To the Editor:

As the dealer who approached the F.B.I. with his suspicions regarding Lee Israel’s forgeries and theft of rare letters from Columbia University, and who participated in the operation that caught her, I am appalled by the tone of the press coverage her book has received. Among the forgers mentioned in your review could be added the name of Mark Hofmann, the 1980s forger of Mormon historical documents, who not only defrauded dozens of dealers and betrayed his co-religionists but murdered several people to conceal his crimes. Maybe he, too, will write a “pretty damned fabulous book” about his “misadventures.” Betrayal, greed and immorality are not so amusing to the scholars, collectors, dealers and institutions Israel hurt.

David Lowenherz
New York
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 9294
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

PostWed Sep 10, 2008 9:17 am

Lee Israel is not the only one...

http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/Fake-celebrity-autograph-seller-jailed/article-311751-detail/article.html

Fake celebrity autograph seller could be jailed
Monday, September 08, 2008, 07:57

2 readers have commented on this story.

A CON woman is facing prison for selling photographs of celebrities such as Princess Diana, Sean Connery and Laurel and Hardy signed with forged autographs.

Louise Marney made more than £13,000 from the fraud, which she carried out over the internet.

The 32-year-old, of Walter's Road, Neath, was arrested after an investigation by Neath Port Talbot Council consumer watchdogs. It was the first time they had dealt with such a case and they brought in experts
to confirm the signatures were fake.

Marney admitted that, between August 6 and July last year, she conspired to apply false trademarks to goods by purporting that autographed photographs were genuine when they were not.

Ben Blakemore, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court Marney had ordered photographs of celebrities and sent them to a person known only as Jason.

"He then returned them with forged signatures on them and she sold them on," said the barrister.

It was estimated that Marney had made £300 a week from the enterprise during the 11 months covered by the charge.

Marney, who is on bail, will be sentenced in a few weeks once a probation officer has interviewed her to prepare a report.

Adjourning, Judge Christopher Morton warned her: "I want you to understand that you are at risk of a custodial sentence."

After the hearing, Neath Port Talbot's principal trading standards officer Steve Adie said the investigation started after a complaint made by someone who had bought one of the photographs.

He said Marney had sold them through eBay, using various user names including Celeb Factory, Lou Marney and Louise Marney.

"These cases are quite unusual — in fact it was the first one we have dealt with," said Mr Adie.

Trading standards officers found several signed photographs at Marney's home and enlisted the services of UACC, the Universal Autograph Collectors Club, which confirmed they were counterfeit.

Mr Adie said: "It is quite an easy crime — until you get caught. We will continue to investigate this type of offence, to protect the interests of consumers and legitimate businesses."
Offline
User avatar

JFK

  • Posts: 2093
  • Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:44 pm

NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostMon Apr 30, 2018 2:53 pm

Image
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 3081
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostMon Apr 30, 2018 4:49 pm

Well, according to a very high-up personage - all the news is fake, so why are we surprised to find that some letters penned by a celebrity are also fake? No doubt the whole sordid business is down to the folding stuff being involved. If a buck can be made, it will bring out the worst in people. What always gets me is how many "experts" are duped in the process.
Regards from
Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."
Offline

Clem Dickey

  • Posts: 70
  • Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:21 am

Re: NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostTue May 01, 2018 1:37 am

Yet another: https://www.npr.org/2018/04/29/606919098/french-museum-discovers-more-than-half-its-collection-is-forged. In this case, some of the forgeries depicted buildings not built until after the artist's death.
Offline
User avatar

Rick Lanham

  • Posts: 1983
  • Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:16 pm
  • Location: Gainesville, FL

Re: NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostTue May 01, 2018 7:24 am

Don't forget this guy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hofmann

"Mark William Hofmann (born December 7, 1954) is an American counterfeiter, forger and convicted murderer. Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished forgers in history, Hofmann is especially noted for his creation of documents related to the history of the Latter Day Saint movement."

Rick
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.
Offline

busby1959

  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:12 pm
  • Location: Cathedral City, California

Re: NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostTue May 01, 2018 11:27 am

It sounds to me that Ms. Israel has a few burned out bulbs in her self-created chandelier.
Offline

ajabrams

  • Posts: 267
  • Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:50 pm

Re: NY Times: She Says It’s True, Her Memoir of Forging

PostTue May 01, 2018 7:22 pm

busby1959 wrote:It sounds to me that Ms. Israel has a few burned out bulbs in her self-created chandelier.


Her "bulbs" have been extinguished--she died of cancer in 2014. I read her bios of Bankhead and Kilgallen several years ago and remember really enjoying them. FYI - her last book has been filmed and will be released this Fall.
Here's the trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4595882/vid ... v_vi_aiv_1" target="_blank" target="_blank

Return to Talkie News

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests