According to court records, media reports, and multiple sources:
Keith Raniere is described by followers as “the smartest man in the world”.
On his website, www.keithraniere.com, Mr. Raniere is described as a “scientist, mathematician, philosopher, entrepreneur, educator, inventor and author.”
In the 1990s, he claimed to have created a mathematical formula to make money in the commodities market.
He borrowed $25,000 from one of his girlfriends, Pam Cafritz.
The commodities market turned hostile. There was a margin call. He needed $50,000 to prevent the loss of the $25,000.
He told his friend and college mate, David Cohen, he needed $50,000 to settle a lawsuit with the New York State Attorney General concerning his recently-shuttered business, Consumers’ Buyline. Mr. Cohen was not rich. He didn’t know if he could afford such a loan.
Mr .Raniere explained he was being pursued by a hostile, unjust government. If he didn’t pay the fine, he would be criminally charged.
Without getting a contract signed by Mr. Raniere, Mr. Cohen lent him $50,000 to save his friend from prison.
Mr. Raniere invested the $50,000 in the commodities market. He lost Mr. Cohen’s money, plus Pam Cafritz’s money. The market had moved against him.
Mr. Raniere met Barbara Bouchey, a successful financial manager. She became his girlfriend. He borrowed money from her to invest in the commodities market.
He applied his super-secret formula. The market turned savage. He lost $1.25 million of her money. He wanted more. She could not give it. He lost her life savings. Mr. Raniere suddenly became far less fond of Barbara and, ultimately, they broke up and he sued her.
Mr. Cohen asked for his $50,000 back. Mr. Cohen reminded Mr. Raniere that when he needed money to pay the fine to stay out of prison, he promised prompt repayment.
Mr. Raniere advised him he would pay as soon as he could.
Mr. Raniere devised a life coaching program which taught students how to become successful and ethical. He got lots of students. One of his students was Michael Sutton, son of Morris Sutton, owner of Lollytogs Apparel Ltd.
Michael Sutton never met anyone as wise and ethical as Mr. Raniere. After taking Executive Success Programs, he realized the garment industry was drab.
He went to his father and demanded his inheritance. After trying to dissuade him, the father tried to stop him. But Michael was determined. The brokenhearted father paid him his share of the business.
Mr. Raniere sued the father for trying to interfere and ruin his teaching business. Michael Sutton was grateful to Mr. Raniere for showing him how selfish his father was.
Michael put up money so Raniere could make another run at the commodities market. Unfortunately, the commodities market took a tumble in the direction opposite from Mr. Raniere’s formula. Michael put up more of his inheritance. It was not going well.
Mr. Cohen learned Mr. Raniere did not use the $50,000 to pay off his government fine. Mr. Raniere was amused. For such a small sum, a man is willing to break up a friendship?
Raniere lost $2 million of Sutton’s money in the commodities market (Because he was so convinced that Raniere’s super-secret formula was sure to succeed, Sutton was also making copycat investments of his own – and lost all that money too). Mr. Raniere asked him to continue to invest. He said he was no longer able to do so. Mr. Raniere suddenly realized Michael was not all that bright and starting spending less time with him.
He met Clare and Sara Bronfman, heiresses of the Seagram Liquor fortune. He became their teacher. They called him Vanguard.
Mr. Raniere invested more than $65 million of the Bronfmans’ money in the commodities market. The commodities market opposed him at every turn. All of the Bronfman’s money was lost.
Mr. Raniere explained to Sara and Clare that their father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., devised a plot with the commodities clearing firm to “steal” the money he invested for them. They believed him. They never once thought that maybe Mr. Raniere, and not their father, devised a plot with the commodities clearing firm to “steal” the money he invested for them.
He was the leader of a movement, a Vanguard. He was the most ethical man in the world.
David Cohen continued to press Mr. Raniere. He explained to Mr. Cohen the facts of life: Mr. Raniere never signed a contract. There was no proof he owed him $50,000.
Mr. Cohen threatened to sue. Mr. Raniere assured him, he was never going to get a dime. And he never did.
According to the website www.keithraniere.com, Keith Raniere’s IQ is so high “he has an estimated problem-solving rarity of one in 425,000,000”.
With a world population of 7 billion, there are fewer than 15 people worldwide who can solve problems like him.