Natalie Portman has criticised Moby for a “very disturbing” account of their friendship in his new memoir Then It Fell Apart, comments which he has since contested.

In the book, the musician, now 53, claims the pair dated when he was 33 and Portman was 20, after she met him backstage in Austin, Texas. He recounts going to parties in New York with her, and to see her at Harvard University, “kissing under the centuries-old oak trees. At midnight she brought me to her dorm room and we lay down next to each other on her small bed. After she fell asleep I carefully extracted myself from her arms and took a taxi back to my hotel.” He says that he then struggled with anxiety about their relationship: “It wanted one thing: for me to be alone … nothing triggered my panic attacks more than getting close to a woman I cared about.” Later, he writes: “For a few weeks I had tried to be Natalie’s boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out,” writing that she called to tell him she had met someone else.

Portman disputes Moby’s account. “I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact-checking from him or his publisher – it almost feels deliberate.” The book has their first meeting dated as early September 1999, which would have made Portman – who was born in June 1981 – 18.

She added: “That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact-check.”

She says Moby had told her “let’s be friends”, and that they had “hung out a handful of times”.

Moby has responded to her comments, posting a picture of them together on Instagram, and saying that her account “confused me, as we did, in fact, date. And after briefly dating in 1999 we remained friends for years. I like Natalie, and I respect her intelligence and activism. But, to be honest, I can’t figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our (albeit brief) involvement.” He said the book account was “accurate, with lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc.”

He added: “I completely respect Natalie’s possible regret in dating me (to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn’t alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history.”

Then It Fell Apart is Moby’s second memoir, following the account of his rise to fame in Porcelain. Alongside starry encounters with Bono, David Bowie, Russell Crowe, David Lynch and more, he recalls a time he touched his naked penis against Donald Trump as a bet at a party.

He also says that he worked with and “tried dating” Lizzy Grant (spelled in the book as Lizzie Grant), who went on to become the pop star Lana Del Rey. “She had short, bleached hair and looked like a beautiful elf … I sat next to her on the piano bench and started kissing her. She kissed me back – but then stopped. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked. “‘I like you. But I hear you do this with a lot of people.’ I wanted to lie, to tell her that I didn’t, that I was chaste, sane, and ethical. But I said nothing.”

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Kay Adams