If I Did It: How OJ Simpson’s book was seized – and turned against him – by murder victim’s family

When it emerged that OJ Simpson was writing a book about the two brutal murders he had been acquitted of, he was accused of trying to cash in on horrific crimes that the victims’ families said they still believed he was guilty of.

But years later, the family obtained the rights to the work and renamed it to make it look as if Simpson was admitting to the crimes.

The former football star worked with a ghostwriter on If I Did It, a provocatively titled memoir that speculated on how he might have murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. Amid widespread criticism in the media, the project quickly ran into trouble.

Fox News planned to air a two-part interview on the memoir and HarperCollins’ parent company News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, planned to publish the book. Ultimately, public outcry led Murdoch to cancel the project.

In a written statement issued in 2006, Murdoch said: “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are very sorry for any pain that his has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.”

OJ Simpson 2006 book If I Did It Book cover (HarperCollins)

The following year, members of the Goldman family – who still believed Simpson was responsible for the murder of Ron Goldman – managed to turn the tables on the former football star.

They were given the rights to the memoir by a Florida bankruptcy court after a civil trial found Simpson liable for the deaths as part of the settlement of a $33.5m wrongful death settlement against the former football star.

Then they released the book – but under a new title: If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, and with the ‘If’ in a different font, making it look like the title was a confession by its author.

The family said a portion of the proceeds would go to the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice, a non-profit organisation the family had set up.

The book reached No 2 on The New York Times bestseller list after its publication. Kim Goldman, Mr Goldman’s sister, said she wasn’t surprised about the book being successful because “people have a morbid curiosity” about Simpson and the murders.

Observers suggested that the combination of the Goldman family’s appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show discussing the book and Simpson’s Las Vegas arrest and conviction for armed robbery could’ve helped the publication’s sales.

Ms Brown’s sister, Denise Brown, publicly criticised the Goldman family’s choice to publish the memoir. She said the majority of the book represented her sister negatively.

“If it were Ron the 100 pages was trashing, Goldman would never have published it”, she said in an email to the Los Angeles Times after its release. “So I think that says it all. I believe our word is all we have and if that’s no good then we have nothing.”

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