Before Oprah and TheSmokingGun.com had ever heard of James Frey, there was Clifford Irving. In 1971, he burst onto the literary scene, claiming to have been granted the right to pen the authorized biography of the famously reclusive icon Howard Hughes. Forged documents seemed to bear out his claims, and McGraw-Hill awarded him a contract for the then-enormous sum of $750,000. When Hughes himself emerged from seclusion to denounce Irving as a charlatan, McGraw-Hill stood by their author. It wasn’t until Hughes filed suit, and Swiss bank officials got involved, that Irving finally confessed. 'The hoax', first published in 1981, is Irving’s explosive account of his own misdeeds - and the inspiration for a soon-to-be released movie starring Richard Gere.