A number of people who have not been following the Nxivm story for long have asked for a basic primer on Nxivm to explain the background of the stories about Keith Raniere and his followers. This is my response, It is sort of beginners guide to the background of Nxivm.
Perhaps long time readers will not find this post of interest as they know most of what is contained in it. The post, which is the first in a series, is meant to explain Nxivm for newcomers so they can catch up quickly and follow the continuing story.
The Nxivm Story
The story is about a man named Keith Alan Raniere, born in 1960, now in federal custody, having been convicted of sex trafficking, forced labor, racketeering and other crimes.
He led an enterprise that critics called a cult, the feds called a racketeering enterprise, and he and his associates maintain was a life coaching institute.
It also went by the name of Executive Success Programs.
The group became notorious when the New York Times published a story in October 2017 where it was reported that women were branded on their pubic region with Raniere’s initials.
The Times got the information for their story from a series I wrote on the Frank Report. The Times credited me with breaking the story.
The branded women were designated as “slaves”. The group collected blackmail-worthy material from them to prevent them from revealing secrets of the group and to keep them from leaving.
The Times wrote, “[M]any of Mr. Raniere’s followers learned of the secret society from a website run by a Buffalo-area businessman, Frank R. Parlato Jr. Mr. Parlato had been locked in a long legal battle with two sisters, Sara and Clare Bronfman, who are members of Nxivm and the daughters of Edgar Bronfman, the deceased chairman of Seagram Company.
“In 2011, the Bronfman sisters sued Mr. Parlato, whom they had hired as a consultant, alleging he had defrauded them of $1 million.
“Four years later, in 2015, the Justice Department indicted him on charges of fraud and other crimes arising from alleged activities, including defrauding the Bronfmans. Mr. Parlato has denied the claims and the case is pending.
“Mr. Parlato started a website, The Frank Report, which he uses to lambaste prosecutors, Mr. Raniere and the Bronfmans. In early June, Mr. Parlato published the first in a torrent of salacious posts under the headline, ‘Branded Slaves and Master Raniere.’”
Following my first stories about the branding and blackmailing of women, which predated the Times story by four months, many Nxivm members quit.
The scheme had been well hidden by the “slave” women and Raniere.
These revelations in Frank Report cratered the cult.
In October 2017, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York began an investigation into the group.
In November, I broke the news that Raniere fled from his longtime home in Albany NY to live with several “slaves” in Monterrey, Mexico. I published the address of his hideaway. Within days, the FBI appeared in Monterrey seeking to interview him.
He fled to Puerto Vallarta. One of his slaves, actress Nicki Clyne, inadvertently tipped me off as to his whereabouts when she published a photo of herself in Puerto Vallarta on Instagram.
I published the picture and my conclusion that if Nicki was there, it was likely Raniere was also there.
Shortly after – on March 26, 2018 – Raniere was arrested at a seaside villa in Puerto Vallarta by Mexican federal police.
I obtained a photograph of him moments after his arrest and a video of some of his slaves after he was placed in the police car.
Raniere was deported that same day and arraigned in El Paso and remanded to custody without bail. He was later transferred to Brooklyn and held in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting trial for more than a year.
His repeated efforts at making bail – which included retaining the former head of the US Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, to oversee home detention, with guards to prevent his flight – were all rejected by the judge.
Less than a month after his arrest, one of his top assistants and a First Line “slave”, TV actress Allison Mack, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and other felonies. I broke the news of her impending arrest 30 days before it happened.
She was arraigned and subjected to home confinement at her parent’s home in Los Alamitos, California and $5 million bond.
Three months later, in July 2018, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman and Nxivm bookkeeper Kathy Russell were arrested on an array of charges connected to the racketeering enterprise.
All of them pleaded not guilty and were subjected to home confinement.
In order for her to remain outside a prison cell, Bronfman had to post a $100 million bond.
By April 2019, all five Nxivm women pled guilty to felony charges. All five await sentencing and are expected to serve time in prison.
The judge has said he is considering a longer sentence for Bronfman than what her plea deal originally suggested which was 21-27 months. In part, the judge appears to have been influenced by the number of victims who wrote the court detailing the abuse they experienced from Bronfman.
Raniere, whose sentencing date is scheduled in April, faces a minimum sentence of 15 years for the sex trafficking conviction. Combined with his other charges, he is likely to be sentenced to life or virtually life in prison. He is 59.
Nxivm Founded With Nancy Salzman
Keith Raniere founded Nxivm in 1998 with Nancy Salzman, 63, a nurse and a trained expert in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
Raniere appointed Salzman president, declining to put his name on any corporate documents. No one, least of all Salzman, ever disputed Raniere had complete control of operations.
Their product was his patent-pending “technology” which he called “Rational Inquiry.” It purports to teach students how to revolutionize their lives. It was described as analogous to going from a typewriter to a computer. There was a hefty price tag for Rational Inquiry courses which typically ran from a five day to a 16-day “intensive” – courses that began in the early morning and continued to 9 or 10 at night.
The cost ran from $2,000 to more than $10,000 per class. In classes, Raniere was referred to as “Vanguard” and Salzman was referred to as “Prefect.”
A feature of the courses was that they never ended. One never graduated. There were always more courses to take.
Students, through taking courses, and recruiting others, advanced in the ranks which were designated by colored sashes – like martial arts with their colored belts.
It often cost a student more than $100,000 or more to move up one colored sash.
At ,first the courses did well. Thousands took classes, enamored by the marketing, which featured the pitch that Raniere was the smartest man in the world.
Guinness Book of Records
Recruiters backed up their claim by explaining that Raniere had once been named in the Guinness Book of Records [Australian edition 1989] as having one of the three highest IQ’s on a test sponsored by a group called the Mega Society.
A little probing on the part of the editors of Guinness seems to have led them to conclude the test was not reliable, quite possibly in part because it was a take home IQ test.
After Raniere’s inclusion in the 1989 Australian edition [he never made the US edition], the editors of Guinness permanently retired the category of “highest IQ”. It never appeared again in any edition.
This was not known to prospective students. They were shown the book or told the story that Raniere had the highest IQ in the world.
Wasn’t there a study that showed his intelligence?
A study was made that “proved” that Raniere was one of the “top three problem solvers in the world” – with a problem solving rarity of one in 425,000,000, something always told to prospective students – without mentioning that Raniere himself authored the study.
Who wouldn’t want to learn the secrets of life and success taught by the smartest man in the world? One of the world’s top three problem solvers?
To add to the wonder that was Keith Raniere, recruiters said – and his online bio “confirmed” – he was a boy prodigy, speaking in full sentences at the age of 1, reading at age 2, becoming a concert level pianist at 12, an east coast judo champion at age 11, and, at the youthful age of 32, he had amassed a fortune of some $50 million dollars.
He could have gone on, recruiters said, to make billions, but he wanted to focus his energies on creating teachings that could help the world.
The reality was he could play a little piano. It also appears that he entered a children’s judo tournament but competed only with other children – and no record exists of him winning any prize.
And while he owned a company that grossed as much as $50 million, it was closed down by several State Attorneys General amid allegations that it operated as a pyramid scheme.
Raniere may have stashed away some cash but when the company closed, he stiffed vendors and employees and members of money they were due.
None of this was known to Nxivm students. They came to learn the secrets of life and success from a super athlete, mega businessman, and astounding genius.
That was the pitch. And added to the pitch, for those sufficiently interested, was that Raniere was an ethicist, a compassionate man who fathomed the mysteries of life and learned that love was the answer.
It was said, to those who might understand, that Raniere was a celibate, a monk, who renounced the chance at great wealth that could be easily his and lived virtually in seclusion, spending his days and nights thinking about how to bring joy to the world, end needless suffering, and bring peace to humankind.
He lived to create a “more noble civilization.”
He had finally, after gleaning these experiences as a genius, an athlete, artist, mystic and above all, a lover of humanity, settled on a solution – which were these teachings – Executive Success Programs – and his patent pending Rational Inquiry – as the solution to the world’s ills and to raise humanity in the future.
He was to be the man of the ages.
It was explained that if enough people took the courses, the world would change. A tipping point would be reached, if only they could get enough people to learn the “technology” he invented.
For those sufficiently interested, this was the added attraction. Give your life to Nxivm. You could do more than just be a student and pay $2,000-$10,000 [a tiny fraction of the value it would be worth in your new, improved life] for a 5 day or 16 day intensive.
You could also, if you were keenly interested in being part of the mission, dedicate your life and find a higher purpose. You could make a living too, people were promised, by recruiting more people into the noble courses.
It was, in fact, a life coaching pyramid scheme, based on the “superior teachings” of one man, who blatantly lied about his accomplishments and, according to sources, cheated on his take home IQ test.