Clifford Irving, according to the received wisdom, wrote a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire. A purported Howard Hughes angrily phoned a group of seven reporters and denounced the Irving autobiography as a hoax. But Irving claimed that the voice of Hughes on the phone call to the reporters was probably a fake. At any rate, the Clifford Irving autobiography was pulled out of publication. Later, in 1999, the supposedly fake autobiography was published in Santa Fe in a private edition, and went out of print, but, in March 2008, John Blake Publishing, a British company, issued Howard Hughes: The Autobiography. That autobiography (perhaps not the true suppressed autobiography) is available as a Kindle e-book.
Something called the “Gemstone Files” however claims the “Mormon Mafia” gave Clifford Irving an already-written insider biography of Hughes. This secret biography purportedly contained hidden, suppressed details about Howard Hughes and his life. Irving allegedly used this secret biography to write his book, and camouflaged things by saying he had interviewed Hughes when he had not. Sayeth the Gemstone Files: “[Aristotle] Onassis knew someone had given Irving the information.” (Further background: “What Did the Thunder Say?”, Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of July 20, 2013)
But here is a different possibility about the controversial Howard Hughes “autobiography”, based on the version of it released in March 2008:
Well into middle age and “on the cusp” of old age, a disillusioned Howard Hughes is urged by an intimate lady friend code-named “Helga” to secretly journey to India and hopefully refresh his soul. In Benares, India, Hughes met a reputed holy man named Sai Baba (real name Sathya Sai). Sai Baba asked Howard Hughes, “In the years left to you, if you knew beyond doubt that you wouldn’t fail, what is the one thing that you would do?”
Howard Hughes had no immediate answer to Sai Baba’s question. “You don’t have to answer now,” said the reputed holy man. It wasn’t until much later that Hughes decided to write an honest autobiography, to include “warts and all.” Clifford Irving was known to Hughes through Irving’s father. Tentative talks on the book began.
So in this version of things, Clifford Irving really did collaborate with Howard Hughes on his autobiography. But what happened later may have been that Hughes got cold feet. The eccentric billionaire was notorious for his difficult business practices and tendency to be a hard man to pin down. Howard Hughes, in this version, suddenly decided to pull the plug on the autobiography. And so, wielding enormous power, Hughes was able to do just that. Howard Hughes had the power of Don Corleone exponentiated: The good Don carried politicians and judges in his pocket like loose change; Howard Hughes carried entire governments in his pocket. The Irving book was suppressed. Sai Baba’s question was betrayed.