Right-wing writer and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million from Simon & Schuster on Friday for pulling the plug on plans to publish his latest book less than a month before its originally scheduled release.
Simon & Schuster had promised to pay the conservative firebrand a $255,000 advance for the book, “Dangerous,” but reneged on the deal after audio surfaced earlier this year of Mr. Yiannopoulos seemingly justifying sexual relationships between adult males and teenage boys.
Publishing executives initially praised Mr. Yiannopoulos’ manuscript but “wrongfully, and in bad faith” canceled the book deal amid a growing backlash brought on by his comments, according to the lawsuit filed Friday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
“It is, in my view, a clear-cut breach of contract,” Mr. Yiannopoulos, 32, told Publishers Weekly. “You can’t send people texts and emails and say ‘you done good’ and that you’re happy with the manuscript and looking forward to publishing it, full steam ahead, and then two days later say the manuscript is unfit for publication. Clearly, this is not the real reason. I think it’s up to a jury to decide what the real reason was and to award me the damages that I’m owed for the reputational damage and how much it set my career back.”
“They have to pay for silencing conservatives and libertarians,” Mr. Yiannopoulos said at a rally Friday outside Simon & Schuster’s midtown Manhattan office, Publishers Weekly reported. “How many more books could I have sold…with their marketing muscle?”
Mr. Yiannopoulos self-published the book on July 4, and as of Saturday it ranked second place on Amazon’s best sellers and new releases lists.
“I think I can sell half a million copies without breaking a sweat,” he told Publishers Weekly. “Simon & Schuster’s shareholders should be really, really pissed. And I’m really pissed at them—which is why I’m suing them.”
“Although we have not been officially served, we believe that Yiannopoulos’s lawsuit is publicity-driven and entirely without merit,” the publisher responded Friday. “Simon & Schuster will vigorously defend itself against any such action, and fully expects to prevail in court.”
Mr. Yiannopoulos joined Breitbart in 2015 but resigned this past February amid a growing backlash brought on by his pedophilia comments and other controversial remarks. He’s since “vociferously denied” condoning pedophilia, according to Friday’s lawsuit.