Fact Check: Did Harvey Weinstein Write an Official Autobiography in Prison?

A self-published autobiography purportedly written by Harvey Weinstein is on sale on Amazon—more than two years after the movie mogul's rape conviction.

Harvey Weinstein: My Story—An Autobiography has been available for purchase on the e-commerce giant's platform since May 10 and claims to tell the imprisoned producer's life story in his own words.

So did Weinstein actually write a memoir while in prison?

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein is pictured arriving at the Manhattan Criminal Court, on February 24, 2020 in New York City. An autobiography purportedly written by the imprisoned movie mogul has been released for sale on Amazon. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

The Claim

An independently published 203-page book called "Harvey Weinstein: My Story" has been on sale on Amazon since May 10, 2022, claiming to have been authored by Weinstein himself.

"Harvey Weinstein is more than a name but an icon synonymous with the modern American movie industry," reads a blurb for the tome. "He took chances in his professional and personal life.

"He weighed the odds and moved forward without hesitation. The results were astounding. As an author, he is unafraid to face his detractors with a full and honest account of what he did. You be the judge."

The book, it adds, is "an autobiography told with remarkable candor. Many people in the movie field are lucky if they get a single Academy Awards nomination."

After listing the multiple Academy Awards Weinstein's movies have generated over the years, it concludes that "[in] this book, Weinstein not only tells of his unconventional (some say 'inappropriate') methods but of the accusations that inevitably followed his success."

According to the book, Weinstein—who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence and facing more charges in Los Angeles for allegedly assaulting other women—writes candidly about his encounters with a number of famous actresses.

The A-list stars mentioned in the book—including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Cate Blanchett—have accused Weinstein, 70, of sexual assault or harassment.

Erstwhile filmmaker Weinstein purportedly tells his life story through 69 chapters, starting with "A Queens Birth and Upbringing" and ending with "Post-Coital Comments: Advice for Men Who Like to F***."

A bulk of what is written in the book is sexually explicit in nature, though Weinstein is also quoted as comparing his dramatic fall from grace to America's relationship with Communism.

"In World War II when we fought side-by-side with communist Russia, those early communists were considered visionaries," reads the passage. "Then came the 1950s when the pendulum swung the other way.

"Communists were suddenly considered evil and a threat to America. Hollywood turned its back on them just as it is doing with me. I have no animosity about it. A lot of those vilified communists went to prison, some killed themselves.

"The ones who survived eventually ended up on top again when the tide of history and public opinion turned once again, this time in their favor. As they say, it's not over until the fat lady sings. And the fact is, she never will. Ethel Merman is dead.

"I am only on ice, staying cool, calm and collected. My movies will be enjoyed from here to eternity. They will also be studied by film students. They may find confusing the fact that my aggressive and bold techniques for making important, Academy award-winning movies were condemned in real life. It certainly is a contradiction, but the world is full of contradictions. I don't take it personal."

In the book's introduction, it is claimed that Weinstein told his fellow inmates in Los Angeles that he "could not withhold the truth any longer. Weinstein [...] needed to get the past off his chest. So he began talking to the two inmates who transcribed and sent us his story."

Harvey Weinstein book cover
"Harvey Weinstein: My Story—An Autobiography" claims to tell the disgraced producer's life story in his own words. Amazon

The Facts

While the book has been written in the voice of Weinstein, it is stated before readers even get to the first chapter that the words are not directly his.

"At this point, I must point out in the interest of full disclosure that our receiving this autobiography came in a circuitous way," reads an excerpt of the introduction. "It was mailed to us from the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, the prison in California housing Weinstein. But it was not mailed to us by Weinstein himself.

"Instead, the manuscript came by way of two inmates who said they had befriended Weinstein behind bars. Further, they alleged that Weinstein had related his story to them over a period of several months. Weinstein allegedly told the two inmates that his lawyers would not let him tell his story directly.

"Indeed, Weinstein had wanted to tell it during his New York trial but was stopped by his lawyers there as well. I can well understand why his lawyers did not want him to tell the jury his version of events. Had he done so, the path would have been open to grueling cross-examination and the introduction of even more witnesses who hated Weinstein, rightly or wrongly."

The book has been put out by Dennis Sobin, the director of the Prisons Foundation, a non-profit that publishes the works of convicts.

Asked directly about the authenticity of the Weinstein autobiography, Sobin responded to Newsweek that he has "nothing more to add to what I stated in the Introduction of the book.

"Nor would I be able to provide any corroborative notes or correspondence, since that is against our policy.

"I will tell you, however, that nothing has come to my attention since the book was published that would lead me to re-write my introduction in any way," the publisher wrote.

Responding to a comment request from Newsweek, Weinstein's lawyer, Alan Jackson of Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, insisted that the former movie mogul did not have a hand in writing the book.

"The work that was published by Prisons Foundation is in no way associated with Harvey Weinstein," Jackson said in a statement. "Any suggestion that this farce is 'autobiographical' is patently false and a fraud. We are currently looking into legal recourse."

When contacted by Newsweek, a spokesperson for Amazon said: "All publishers are required to follow our content guidelines and the terms and conditions of our service. This book is no longer for sale and we've taken appropriate action on the publisher account."

Following Amazon's statement on the matter, Sobin told Newsweek: "Amazon considers Harvey Weinstein's life to be pornographic and it will not allow us to offer his book on Amazon. Therefore, thanks to the generosity of our Foundation donors, we have decided to offer it without cost on our website."

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The book is not an official autobiography of Harvey Weinstein. There is no substantive evidence currently available to corroborate the author's claims that it is an 'autobiography' at all, or to verify that it was written, commissioned by, or in any way connected to Weinstein. The publisher of the book has admitted that the words did not come directly from Weinstein. Weinstein's lawyers told Newsweek that the work that was published is not associated with the former producer.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek

Update 5/30/22, 07:55 a.m. EDT: This article was updated to include a statements from Amazon and further comment from Sobin.