The outpouring of support after yesterday’s post on Leonard Payne’s admitted theft of 190 pages of my work has meant more than I can properly express. I don’t think I can thank you all enough or properly. Whether you commented here, on FB, on Twitter, or by email, your words felt like a soothing balm or a hug. I was particularly touched by an email from Belgium where the person found me because of Tom Ford (and his Bitter Peach) but stayed for Apollo and my writing. Thank you — to each and every one of you.
Many of you have suggested I sue the not-so-good Reverend. I wanted to address that point tonight in an update that also includes new things that I’ve learned about Mr. Payne.
Some of you would have made an excellent detective in another life. For example, a longstanding reader, the sweet “Lellabelle23” who left a comment about the range of Mr. Payne’s alleged prior theft victims, which allegedly includes Jean-Claude Ellena amongst others:
It looks like there’s a third book in Mr. Payne’s Amazon credits: “Perfume Recipes”. I will not post the link here. I wonder to what extent both this, and the Perfume Accords books have been lifted from other sources? A quick search of the quoted material returns results for a couple of other perfume books, including Natural Perfumes (Mindy Green), Perfume, the Alchemy of Scent (JCE) and The Chemistry of Fragrances (Charles Sell). The cover of Perfume Recipes uses an image I recognize from Canva.
While I sincerely hope that this awful plagiarism of your work is an isolated incident, I’m not holding out much hope that this is the case… [Emphasis in bold added by me.]
Mr. Payne’s “Perfume Accords” book does not appear to be stolen from Mandy Aftel but allegedly from JK DeLapp of Rising Phoenix Perfumery.
Meanwhile, a European perfumer informed me of other alleged shenanigans, this time allegedly involving Arcadi Boix des Camps Perfumery, Allured Books publishing, and Perfumery & Flavorist. He wrote to me the following:
Meanwhile, Laurin @LaurinEmily on Twitter found a few more things on Mr. Payne, from yet another curated book — this time on the notorious, controversial Jordan Petersen (“a curation of material concerning the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” and the role of Jordan Peterson. It contains biographical data on the main characters as well as appreciation and critique“)— to Payne’s hilarious bio:
Many of you have told me to sue. I’m considering it. However, the basic reality of litigation, let alone transnational litigation as would be the case here, is that the costs would likely outweigh any damages/award. (It’s not as though Payne made millions on a best-seller.) From service of process in England to filing fees in one jurisdiction, possibly two, to legal fees (“a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client“), and more, whatever measly amount that I might be awarded as my “actual damages” from his sales would be eaten up long before the jury convened.
I bet Mr. Payne counts on this just as much as he counts on his victims not ever finding out what he did to ask for their share or to sue him.
HOWEVER, a class action comprised of potentially similarly-situated aggrieved people — like Jean-Claude Ellena, the New York Times journalist, JK deLapp, Mr. Arcadi Boix & Arcadi Boix Camps Perfumes, Perfumery & Flavorist, Allured Publishing, Mindy Green, Charles Sell, myself, and others— would yield results that might easily justify transnational litigation costs. The damages incurred by Jean-Claude Ellena alone from having parts of his best-seller book allegedly lifted and produced for someone else’s financial windfall could be notable. And written discovery would be significantly easier and more cost-effective when it came to showing “a pattern and practice” of theft, profits received from all of Payne’s “books,” and any documentation that he may have that showed he asked for and received consent from each author to use their intellectual property. (Obviously, such documentation is unlikely and his responses to a simple discovery question on that point could be devastating.) Further, once all the basic filing and service of process fees were paid, deposing Payne in the era of Covid by Zoom would be easy and low-cost. It’s simply the lawyer fees that would add up, but those would be dealt with by a contingency fee in the case of a class-action. Having a class-action would facilitate quite a bit since I could run things as the lead/named Plaintiff and the similarly situated folk wouldn’t have to do anything at all. They’d just receive notification and then, later, a share of the award or settlement after the litigator’s contingency fee and costs were subtracted.
Do I really want to go through all this? Not particularly. But again, filing a class-action would make everything much easier, especially with the devastating legal impact of Payne’s long pattern and practice of theft and especially if I’m leaving the daily litigation grind and paperwork to someone else.
The real point of all this would be to teach Mr. Payne such a lesson that he never does this again. Would someone quite so brazen and shameless ever change simply because of yesterday’s blog post on his plagiarism? Unlikely, given his seemingly long practice of appropriating other people’s ideas and work for his own financial windfall. But maybe a lawsuit and damages award against him would hit him hard enough to make him reconsider his means of paying for sherry, “nice wine,” and “chjeese” (sic) since I’m assuming a small village vicar’s salary can’t pay for it all.
On the other hand, someone pointed out that a lawsuit might let Payne present himself as a martyr of “cancel culture” when all he was trying to do, he claims, was to save and protect perfume-writing for the masses. (Charging $60 a pop somewhat undercuts the great savior argument, as do many other aspects of this case, but Payne’s introduction shows that logic is not necessarily a close acquaintance of his.) (Ethics certainly aren’t.)
Bottom line: I’m keeping all my options open and assessing numerous different aspects of the facts in this case and in prior ones.
Before I end this, I want to repeat my thanks and my gratitude to all of you for your support, your indignation or outrage on my behalf, and your kind words. It really means a lot, more than I could possibly convey here. I send a warm hug to each and every one of you.
Four-month-old baby Apollo with his constantly changing donkey ears sends you sharp little nibbles as thanks as well. And to end on a happier note, here is the little hellion before and after he traumatized the vet and several of the staff last week over having his nails cut. To quote Dr. H., Apollo is “50 pounds of of drama, tantrums, willfulness, & strength.” Or, as I like to put it, a bigger diva and drama queen than Paris Hilton and the entire cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey and New York combined.