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Jan 10, 2017 4:15 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sag Harbor Resident And Author Talks About The Ups And Downs Of Being A Trump Biographer

Jan 10, 2017 5:01 PM

It’s a rare and exciting thing to meet the next president of the United States, especially when he’s also the owner of the golf course you’re playing on.But while it was certainly memorable for Harry Hurt III, his experience on December 30 won’t be a fond memory: He and his friends were escorted off the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, after Mr. Hurt spoke with the president-elect.

To be fair, he wasn’t on Mr. Trump’s good side to begin with.

The 65-year-old Sag Harbor resident is the author of “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” the 1993 unauthorized biography chronicling Mr. Trump’s life from 1989 to 1992. Despite the book being 23 years old, Mr. Hurt was made well aware that the president-elect has a strong memory of its contents even before he made it to the first tee, when he saw the president-elect on the practice range and approached him.

“Out of courtesy and respect for the office of the president of the United States, I went over, I tipped my cap, I extended my hand, and I said, ‘Congratulations, sir’—that’s all I said,” Mr. Hurt said in a phone interview this week from Miami Beach. “Then he said, ‘Harry, you were rough on me, you were really rough on me, that [expletive] you wrote in your book.’”

When Mr. Hurt told the president-elect that he was on the course playing with some friends, including the billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, Mr. Trump made his thoughts more clear. “He says, ‘Well, I think it’s inappropriate for you to play here—and I think you should leave.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine,’” he recalled.

“So I walked over to David and our other playing companions—they thought it was a joke,” Mr. Hurt said. “I said, ‘I’m not joking, and neither is he.’”

Mr. Hurt offered to use Uber to get a ride home, since he and his friends had all arrived in one car, and allow the rest of his foursome to play the course. But the others in his group decided it was more appropriate to leave together. They were briefly shadowed by Mr. Trump’s security team as they gathered their things, Mr. Hurt said, but there were no physical altercations as they left the club.

“If the president-elect were as polite and efficient as his head of security, the country would be better off,” Mr. Hurt said.

He noted that he had another face-to-face encounter with Mr. Trump shortly before Easter 2015. Mr. Hurt said that he saw Mr. Koch and Mr. Trump talking on the same Trump course in West Palm Beach, and he had approached them. He even got a laugh after pointing out that his new pink golf knickers were his attempt at the “Gary Wiren look,” referring to the PGA Hall of Fame golfer who often sports colorful knickers—and is the senior director of instruction for all Trump Golf locations.

Once, Mr. Hurt said, he received a clipping of a New York Times column that he had written about the Emerald Dunes Golf Club, also in West Palm Beach, with a note from Mr. Trump: “Harry, Long time no see. Trump International is a much better golf course, you should write about it.”

“You don’t know what to expect when dealing with him,” Mr. Hurt said, calling him “unpredictable.” “Donald reached out to the likes of Mitt Romney and he’s got his formal rival Ben Carson in a cabinet post, so he’s been mending fences, or whatever you want to call it.”

Mr. Hurt said he discovered that unpredictability during his research and writing of “Lost Tycoon.” Mr. Hurt began researching Mr. Trump in the summer of 1990, when his affair with actress Marla Maples went public and his $14 million divorce from then-wife Ivana Trump became tabloid fodder. Mr. Hurt said he was more focused on writing what he described as a “cinéma vérité” narrative of Mr. Trump’s life instead of chronicling his entire life story.

He said he interviewed Mr. Trump multiple times for the biography, one time at a boxing match in Atlantic City with Ms. Maples.

One of the most notable incidents detailed in “Lost Tycoon” was the rape allegation leveled against Mr. Trump by Ivana Trump. During their divorce proceedings, his former wife stated in a deposition that he had raped her during an altercation in 1989.

However, on April 7, 1993, with the book on the verge of being shipped out for distribution, Mr. Trump’s legal team sent over a statement from his ex-wife to the book’s publisher, W.W. Norton and Company. She said that while she did refer to the incident in 1989 as “rape,” she didn’t want her description of the incident “interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.” The book notes that this statement “does not contradict or invalidate any information” in the pages and was included to give “full expression to differing points of view on an important event.”

It left Mr. Hurt with a negative image of Mr. Trump. “The problem with interviewing Trump is that the six hours of fact-checking results in that the guy was either completely lying, telling half-truths, or totally exaggerating everything he had to say,” he said. “So at a certain point, I just stopped interviewing him, because it was a waste of time.”

Mr. Hurt has concluded that Mr. Trump is “unbalanced.”

“His father was perhaps the biggest influence on his life. He used to tell him, ‘You’re a killer, you’re a king, you’re a killer, you’re a king.’ It is hard to fathom how psychologically twisted Donald Trump is unless you spend a certain amount of time around him.”

Mr. Hurt said he wanted to reissue the book last spring, when the Republican race for president had narrowed down and Mr. Trump was still charging forward. After contacting his publisher, signing a new contract, writing a new introduction and sending the book into W.W. Norton, he hit a roadblock.

“I contacted [the editor at W.W. Norton] and I said, ‘What’s up?’ He says, ‘Well the current in-house lawyer thinks the book is too quote-unquote dangerous to publish.’ Not specifically what’s in the book, but just that.”

Mr. Hurt said that he found this decision “pusillanimous” and took things into his own hands: He paid $400 for a scan of the original book and posted it to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Soon afterward, Echo Point Books & Media based in Brattleboro, Vermont, agreed to reissue the book in both print and online format this past August.

While Mr. Hurt said he doesn’t want to do a follow-up book on the current era of Mr. Trump, he still sees a reason to be cautious about the next leader of the free world: “He has a legacy as an extremely controversial business man and as an extremely controversial politician now, so I think that one of the things about Donald Trump is that you never know what you’re going to get from him.”

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Harry Hurt asked to leave a golf course...amazing
By Jac-man (21), Southampton on Jan 13, 17 9:32 AM
Poor Drumpf and his case of butthurt.
By Mr. Z (11565), North Sea on Jan 13, 17 2:00 PM
Why would he approach him after he degraded him. His co hearts invited him and probably knew the situation before are ah.
Knew the outcome... DUH...
By knitter (1865), Southampton on Jan 13, 17 6:44 PM
Hurt and Trump have exactly thevsame problem: Natcisistic Personality Disorder
Probably revealing that Koch and friends don't get that. I love watching Harry's inept and gross moves on women in Sag Harbor bars. They start out engrossed and then slowly slide away. Donald and Harry are thevsame guy ! ��
By Sag (54), Sag harbor on Jan 13, 17 7:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sounds like he and donald have different views. Very biased view...
By knitter (1865), Southampton on Jan 14, 17 9:48 AM
Add Trump National to the list of courses Harry Hurt has been asked to leave - may be the only action I will agree with Trump...hope not --
By Jac-man (21), Southampton on Jan 14, 17 4:50 PM
San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons, Hampton Bays, Scottos