When the news broke that Donald Trump had been caught on video in 2005 boasting that, as a celebrity, he feels free to “grab” women “by the pussy,” Harry Hurt III experienced a sense of vindication. In 1993, Hurt published “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” an unauthorized biography that has long been out of print. The day the tape surfaced, he was hitting golf balls at a driving range in Sagaponack, New York, when a text message arrived from a friend: “Donald is done!”
After Hurt watched the tape, he said, “I thought, Finally, this behavior is coming out.” But he doubted that the revelation would do any real damage to Trump’s campaign. Researching his book, in the early nineties, Hurt discovered and documented more serious instances of Trump’s mistreatment of women, yet most news outlets had declined to report on them. Even during the current campaign, Hurt said, “I’ve been a voice in the wilderness.”
When “Lost Tycoon” was published, Kirkus Reviews credited Hurt, a former contributing editor at Texas Monthly, with having written “a slick, informed account.” The Times ignored it. Trump denounced it, and last year, in a tweet, he called Hurt a “dummy dope” who “wrote a failed book.”
The part of the book that caused the most controversy concerns Trump’s divorce from his first wife, Ivana. Hurt obtained a copy of her sworn divorce deposition, from 1990, in which she stated that, the previous year, her husband had raped her in a fit of rage. In Hurt’s account, Trump was furious that a “scalp reduction” operation he’d undergone to eliminate a bald spot had been unexpectedly painful. Ivana had recommended the plastic surgeon. In retaliation, Hurt wrote, Trump yanked out a handful of his wife’s hair, and then forced himself on her sexually. Afterward, according to the book, she spent the night locked in a bedroom, crying; in the morning, Trump asked her, “with menacing casualness, ‘Does it hurt?’ ” Trump has denied both the rape allegation and the suggestion that he had a scalp-reduction procedure. Hurt said that the incident, which is detailed in Ivana’s deposition, was confirmed by two of her friends.
Hurt held on to his copy of Ivana’s sealed deposition for years. “It was sworn testimony,” he said. But eventually, when he was cleaning house during his own divorce, he said, “I threw it all out.” He went on, “The larger tragedy is that Trump might be elected President of the United States. I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that it would come to this.”