David Hans Schmidt, the self-proclaimed "Sultan of Sleaze," told the New York Daily News he tried to kill himself two weeks ago, prior to completing that task Friday.
Cops found the body of Schmidt, 47, who became famous and rich for peddling celebrity photos and sex tapes, in his Phoenix home, dead of apparent suicide.
David Hans Schmidt had been under house arrest after pleading guilty to attempted extortion involving the wedding photos of Tom Cruise.
"I did something really stupid," he told Daily News gossip columnist George Rush. "I put a belt around my neck in the shower. Fortunately, it didn't work."
"He was phoning me every other day," Rush said. "I kept saying, 'You got to get yourself some medication.' He said he was on some, but it didn't work for long."
David Hans Schmidt was arrested in July after obtaining pictures of Cruise's wedding in Italy last year from a co-defendant, authorities said.
Schmidt threatened to release the pictures if Cruise didn't pay up. Schmidt and his client, who allegedly stole the photos from the wedding photographer's laptop, were seeking between $1.2 million and $1.3 million from TomKat.
Schmidt, who had served time for violating a restraining order taken out by the mother of his daughters, was due back in court October 11 and faced up to two years behind bars. "I can't go back to prison," Schmidt told Rush.
"I tried to tell him how much he had to look forward to, that there was publishing interest in a book and he could use his time to write his memoirs," Rush said.
But David Hans Schmidt was evidently too depressed.
"He had to wear an ankle monitor. He couldn't leave the house, there were liens on everything he owned," Rush said. "He was getting stripped of everything."
David Hans Schmidt was famous, of course, for somehow getting hold of sex tapes and nude photos of celebrities, which he turned around and sold for big dollars.
David Hans Schmidt tried to sell off Paris Hilton photos (such as this one he is seen holding, which she later signed for him) from her L.A. storage locker.
He said he had the Dustin Diamond sex tape, featuring the cretinous actor who played Screech on "Saved by the Bell," and he sold topless shots of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, as well as Tonya Harding's wedding night sex video.
David Hans Schmidt also said he had nude pics of Gennifer Flowers, who once claimed to have had an affair with former President Bill Clinton.
"He just loved doing these deals," said Rush. "When he had something in the works, he was pumped up. Full of energy. But he couldn't do it anymore. He was afraid the prosecutors would use it as evidence that he was unrepentant and continuing to be up to his old tricks... It left him with no income."
Cops said they found David Hans Schmidt dead at 3 p.m. on Friday after they noticed the tracking device he was wearing had not moved.
"He was a lovable rogue," Rush said. "Every time he was on the phone, you knew there was another wild story coming down the pike."