A federal jury in Manhattan has awarded $116,500 to Antidote International Films, validating its fraud claim against Laura Albert, better known by her novelist pseudonym JT LeRoy.
Antidote topper Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, producer of indie titles “Thirteen” and “Laurel Canyon,” optioned the LeRoy novel “Sarah” in 2003. Published to acclaim by Bloomsbury in 2000, it was billed as largely based on the wild life of LeRoy, a cross-dressing, teenage male prostitute. Though LeRoy kept a Salinger-esque profile, appearing infrequently (always in an ill-fitting blonde wig) at book signings and parties, he managed to befriend many notables in celebrity and literary circles.
Albert testified she invented the persona to help her cope with her own history as a victim of child abuse.
The jury found she went too far by profiting from people who bought into the con, which was pulled off with some assistance from others. Among them was an impersonator who made the public appearances.
Levy-Hinte allowed the option to expire and said Antidote has no plans to make a film of “Sarah.” If it ever somehow gets adapted for the screen, it would not be filmdom’s first LeRoy project. In 2006, Asia Argento wrote, directed and starred in “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things,” a film based on a collection of stories purportedly penned by LeRoy.
The Palm Pictures release grossed $29,058 in the U.S.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)