MANHATTAN (CN) – Demanding $10 million from Simon & Schuster for pulling his memoir, conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos says the publisher breached its contract in caving to backlash against him.
Simon & Schuster axed a $255,000 contract for Yiannopoulos’ book “Dangerous” in February after videos surfaced of the gay former Breitbart editor condoning sexual relationships between teenage boys and grown men.
In a 35-page complaint against the publisher filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Yiannopoulos says Simon & Schuster’s reasons for ending his contract “had nothing to do with the content of the ‘Dangerous’ manuscript, and everything to do with the firestorm of controversy around Yiannopoulos, his well-known reputation for political incorrectness.”
Simon & Schuster “deliberately and opportunistically breached the agreement to spare itself the economic harm from boycotts, protests and other threatened actions which it perceived it would suffer in the absence of breaching the agreement,” the complaint continues.
“Contrary to Simon & Schuster’s stated reason for terminating the Dangerous contract, the real reason for such termination was that Simon & Schuster buckled under a tsunami of unrelenting negative publicity surrounding Yiannopoulos and his memoir, including threatened boycotts and the like from many corners, such as authors, book sellers, publishers, reviewers, celebrities, and other parties,” the complaint also says.
Prior to pulling the book, Simon Schuster told the Associated Press that it does not condone discrimination or hate speech, and that readers should “withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book.”
By reversing course, Yiannopoulos says the publisher gave the impression that he is “somehow … unfit to be published by a leading publication house.”
The complaint cites online blowback against Yiannopolous from comedian Sarah Silverman and director-producer Judd Apatow.
Silverman tweeted: “The guy has freedom of speech but to fund him & give him a platform tells me a LOT about @simonschuster. YUCK AND BOO AND GROSS.”
Apatow wrote: “In these times we cannot let hatemongers get rich off of their cruelty. Shame on @simonschuster.”
Under the original contract, Yiannopolous would have received 10 percent of the catalog retail price of “Dangerous” for the first 5,000 hardcover copies sold, 12.5 percent for the next 5,000 hardcover copies sold and 15 percent on all copies sold after the initial 10,000 hardcover copies.
Simon & Schuster fired back at Yiannopolous in a statement Friday. “Although we have not been officially served, we believe that Yiannopoulos’s lawsuit is publicity driven and entirely without merit,” the publisher said. “Simon & Schuster will vigorously defend itself against any such action, and fully expects to prevail in court.”
Also Friday, Yiannopoulos posted a picture of himself on Facebook at what he called a “free-speech rally outside Simon & Schuster headquarters in New York City.”
The picture shows Yiannopoulos holding a protest sign that says “Give That Faggot His Money.”
A self-published version of the book was released on July 4, reportedly selling 100,000 copies and temporarily going out of stock on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
The UK-born Yiannopoulos is one of the alt-right’s most popular voices.
His Twitter account @nero was suspended last summer after he incited fans to target black “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones with racist and hateful tweets.
Yiannopolous is represented by Jeffrey Weingart at Meister Seelig & Fein.