Clare Bronfman is a curious contradiction.
Born under a bad star – she came into the world with wealth to be inherited and somehow ran into a monster who seemed to do something unique – he took an heiress – who would normally be above the law in the US – and turned her into a criminal – based largely on financial crimes.
And she didn’t need the money.
She came into the world of Nxivm, the world of Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman, with the intention not to steal or harm anyone but to be a somebody – something more than her money – something more than a dumb girl who happened by the accident of birth to be the inheritor of money she never earned or could have earned.
She wanted to be known as someone important and her drive for importance led to her desire to do good for the world. To make it a better place.
She did not come to Keith Raniere with the intention to aid and abet his foul plans. She was not entering Nxivm to satisfy her sadism. She wanted to be loved. She wanted friendship. She wanted people who would like her for herself, not for her money.
She wanted to help in a noble mission.
And for the first time – and it drew her out of her shyness – she found two people who really cared about her, not her money: Keith and Nancy.
They loved her for who she was inside, she felt; this sweet, shy, noble-hearted, but inarticulate, misunderstood lady, with confused emotions.
She was always a Bronfman all her life- and that meant nobody ever saw her for herself but for her money.
Would that she could have hidden for a time – gone on some excursion, changed her name and wandered around where nobody knew her. Drift from town to town, nobody knowing she was an heiress and lived a little and found herself.
But she didn’t and the closest she came was Nxivm Village and Keith and Nancy, who threw so much love bombing at her that she finally felt she had a place. A family, a home.
And so pure was the mission, as Keith described it, that she fell in love with that too.
I have dined with Clare and Nancy and Keith and watched as the little girl sat with us after setting up a camera on a tripod to film our dinner to ensure that not one essential word that fell from the precious mouth of the great one would be missed.
And after dinner, I saw her sitting on the floor at his feet, to her, more of a daddy than a lover, more of a sacred idol than a living human.
She looked for acceptance from him and wanted to be loved and wanted – for herself, for who she was. For all her life, nobody ever wanted her for anything other than her money. And she knew it.
Keith was the first one, Keith and Nancy, that ever completely fooled her and made her think it was not about her money, not at all. They wanted her for her. For her unique talents and appreciation of things.
They wanted her for her pure heart.
They let her feel that even if she did not have a dollar to her name [something that may soon come to pass], they would still regard her the same, just as highly. She would be just as precious – and she could still be just as important in the Nxivm organization that she was helping to build.
She would have the same rank, the same place, the same status, the same power and role in the world mission – even if she had not one thin dime to her name.
For the first time, she felt free of her wealth. That the money she never earned was neither her albatross nor her gateway into everything she was ever invited into.
When she first came to Keith in 2002, she was something of a competitive horse jumper – an equestrian. She was not top in the world and not likely to ever be so, but she was a competitor and probably ranked somewhere among the top 100 women riders in her field. She was possibly the only heiress among them, and she could probably outspend her competitors $100 to one – getting the best horses, equipment, stables, trainers etc.
She must have known she could never be the best. But, of course, Keith snowed her, at first promising his tech could make her number one. That was his ruse. He wanted to be her number one alright and grab her money – every dollar of it.
Soon after giving her some bullshit advice on riding – and riding is something he knew nothing about – I doubt Keith was ever on a horse in his life -and I do think any horse his ass touched would grow sick – horses being more perceptive in some things than humans – and would probably throw him – and he persuaded Clare in time to stop riding horses since it was cruel to the poor animals.
He had for her a more noble mission and when she heard this, her girl’s heart leaped for joy.
She had wanted to be an equestrian to show she could succeed at something other than being a liquor heiress. And here now was something so big and broad and noble – the very revolution of life on earth, the new way of thinking for the next 10,000 years – and she would be at the right hand of the savior of humanity, The Vanguard – for so she believed Keith to be – and bring about a new world order – one of love and compassion and peace.
Keith waxed poetic before her, admitting, sadly, that one day, perhaps 100,000 years from now, it was true, it was in some ways all for naught, for humankind would forget him and her too, just as one day they would forget the Buddha or Christ – for humankind would evolve beyond them, using them, even he, to achieve the loftiness humankind would one day accomplish.
In time, the savior must be forgotten.
And she thrilled to his words, and how she, this small girl who never did anything other than being born into wealth, could be part of a great movement for 100 millennia – and true, would one day be forgotten – as the world went on – using the gifts [or tools] he had given and she who worked to spread this to the world.
The girl believed every word of it.
The next time you see her gray and drawn face as she walks into court, try to remember that it was vibrant once, when she got first into this group that threatens now to destroy her. She believed in her heart that she would use her wealth and her honor and brains and energy – every good thing in her womanly heart – to bring about a better world – a vision far beyond her – the vision of her master, Keith Raniere – the only man she ever met that was pure and good and cared only about others, just as he cared about her.
This may all be quite laughable to you who read this – but to her none of this was funny and none of this is funny to her now.
Perhaps the stupendous mistake she made is laughable – but I only want you to consider that there was a time when this little girl – in her mid-20s – daughter of a barmaid and a billionaire father far too busy to raise her – or even see to her education – had a heart that told her – “I want to use my life to improve the world.”
Sure, Keith taught her to be cruel. To be callous, to steel her heart against what seemed injustice. He took her under his wing and trained her to be what he is – a sadist.
But she did not start this way. If you will remember anything about Clare Bronfman, it should be this: She came to him with a clean desire and he trained her, meticulously, over the years, to be cruel and to do cruel things, to be unwavering in her cruelty. He implanted in her the mental suggestion that any cruelty is justified if it promotes his cause of love and peace.
It was “the end justifies the means” – in spades.
There were no “means” that she would ultimately find too offensive, for Keith always kept the end in sight for her – a new world of love and beauty for all mankind.
If ever she had ever thought that the end was just plain nonsense, a lie he told her to con her out of her wealth and freedom, I believe she would have left him.
Keith’s massive trick was to always keep the end in sight, always make her believe he cared only for the end and if a few stragglers, a few suppressives, even a few innocent bystanders had to be destroyed to make way for the good that he was going to bestow – what are a few lives compared to the billions who would benefit, healed by his wondrous, love-filled teachings that would change the world in time?
It was her massive mistake not to realize that “the end and the means are one.” That the means must justify the end and not vice versa. That one cannot get good through evil, or peace through violence. One war begets another and one enemy destroyed only creates more enemies in turn.
It was her massive mistake that she never realized Keith was lying to her. That he had no noble mission. He was playing his psychopathic game – spending time with her only because of her money. That everything she saw in him was different than it really was.
And this she stubbornly refused to consider. No one could point this out to her: that he considered in her only her wealth.
If anyone tried, she would turn on them. And the longer she was in, the more she had to be adamant about this. For she had now invested so much of her life, so much of her wealth into the noble Raniere.
For her to do an about-face would mean she was actually lower than she originally thought herself to be when she first came to him. She would then be truly worthless, more worthless than ever she thought she was when she threw her whole lot in with him. For she was not only worthless then, before she met him [and not the noble-hearted one that he alone made her see in herself] but that she was so worthless that she could be deceived and do great harm by being deceived.
If the mission was proven to be false, she would have nothing, nothing to live for. This is what the prosecution ought to remember- that her whole being – her whole sense of worth is tied to Keith being right and being misunderstood.
If she admitted to herself that it was she that misunderstood him, she would have nothing left, nothing of dignity nothing of her belief that she really is and always was good person, with a good heart, a noble loving person who like Keith is also misunderstood.
She believed in the mission. She wept because Keith was misunderstood. She only went after his enemies not because she hated them but because she was trying to protect him.
She was not just blindly obeying. She saw his histrionics – about how his enemies were killing him and she believed it. How Toni Natalie leaving him was killing him. How Joe O’Hara, if he got away with it – could combine with her father and maybe the Illuminati to destroy the only good man in the world and end the mission.
She had to go after them, and after Barb Bouchey and myself and others – to protect Keith.
At first, when she first came in, she was a devotee not only of Keith but of Nancy Salzman as well. In 2009, Keith decided to do a reversal – to make Clare number 2 and demote Nancy.
Nancy, of course, would keep her exalted title of Prefect and keep the glory of being almost worshiped by the rank and file members. But Clare became the powerhouse, the money ruler, the one who made the financial decisions, and he trained her to be tight – with everyone but him, of course.
It cast a grey cloud on Nxivm.
If Nancy was punishing and mercurial, she could also be gay and motherly. Clare was sullen and tightfisted. She did not know how to smile and love, but it was not out of hatred but out of fear and lack of confidence. She was tight with others for she suspected that, unlike Raniere, they were after her for her money, like everyone else had been all her life. She had to pay them little to test them, to make sure that they were there for the mission.
In this, Keith more than encouraged her. He taught her.
Yes, she could spend millions on Raniere’s frivolous ventures and lose it – spend millions on lawsuits that would only destroy and gain nothing and lose $90 million on harebrained investments he advised her to make, yet she would treat the Nxivm devotees who worked for her with punishing tightness. Pay them minimum wage or hardly better to ensure they were not with her or the mission for her money.
She began with a $100 million trust – while her father was alive. She blew through that with Raniere.
She got another $300 million or so from her father’s estate. She is well on the way of blowing through that too. She spent probably $50 million suing Keith’s enemies. She may spend that much or near it defending herself and him.
The time will come when she will probably have a chance to buy down some of her prison sentence in a plea deal.
Whether she takes it remains to be seen.
In our money-driven criminal justice system she will likely get the chance to pay millions in fines and restitution to shorten her sentence – if she chooses to take a plea deal. But that is quite uncertain. For to take a plea deal is to admit she was wrong about Keith Raniere.
Keith took a young lady with too much wealth, not enough life experience and turned her into a predator. She didn’t want to be a predator. She may not even realize she is a predator.
This is Keith’s talent. Here was a young woman who started out saying, “I have all this wealth, it may have come from questionable origins, but I will be the Bronfman that does something noble with the money. I will atone for the past.”
She never earned any money. She only lost it. And she used her money to punish a lot of people.
Still, as for her financial crimes and other offenses, one can easily see it was not done as most others who commit financial crimes do so – for the money. She already had the money.
She did it for Keith – because he said it must be done to accomplish his wonderful worldwide mission of love and peace and to promote the evolution of humankind to a wiser, more noble, less savage civilization.
That’s the contradiction of Clare Bronfman.