Kristin Keeffe didn’t mince words when she described Clare Bronfman on TNT’s The Heiress and the Sex Cult. Her delivery was authentic, and her conclusions were captivating. She knew Clare Bronfman as well as anyone. And when you take her statements – made during TNT’s excellent one-hour episode of Rich and Shameless – one comes to the unsettling conclusion that the heiress is a sociopath.
Here is what Keeffe, a former NXIVM member, and mother of Keith Raniere’s elder son, had to say about the domineering woman who tried to run hers and everyone’s life.
By Kristin Keeffe
I was involved with NXIVM from 1998 until 2014. I worked for Clare Bronfman.
Keith needed Clare because Keith had all these malevolent intentions that he wanted to disguise.
Every waking moment of his life is dedicated to trying to lure people in and manipulate them into a coercive relationship. And then harm them in every way possible while convincing them that he’s helping them.
When I met Clare, She made a joke to me about how she hated people, and that’s why she was an equestrian. And looking back, I think, when someone tells you they’re a misanthrope, believe it. Because everything that came after that really made sense.
I would characterize Clare as the mob crime boss. And Keith was more the charismatic leader and indoctrinator.
I’d watch Keith lying on the couch, spouting off different ideas, going off to volleyball, talking, talking, talking. And Clare was boom, boom, boom, boom. So, he’d say, “Clare, go do this.” Or “Clare, go do that.”
And Clare was a ruthless executor. So, the two together, with her money and her discipline, and Keith’s ideas and his duplicity, they just became, you know, a monstrous pair. And out of that, the more catastrophic things happened. More abuse became systematized and widespread.
When Clare got involved, Keith had unlimited resources to experiment with his deceptions and how to harm people without having to ever worry about the bottom line.
The Bronfman family had their wealth, and they also had their influence. Their family had built the Seagrams Company, an enormous multi-billion-dollar conglomerate in the United States and Canada.
I would describe Clare’s father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., as the closest thing to Jewish royalty.
He was granted the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That’s like the highest award for a civilian in the United States.
The weird dynamic was Clare and Sara’s mother didn’t have a lot of money. They did. I remember Sara telling me how their mother was reliant on them for their finances. And I think that really negatively affected Clare.
Clare had power even in the relationship as a child over her mother in some ways.
Clare would talk about her family. But obviously, from a young age, she was living far away. She didn’t have a strong sense of family or feeling connected. So, there was a real disconnect, I think in terms of nurturing.
Initially, when Clare joined Keith, Nancy made it very clear. No one was ever to challenge Clare. And they would talk about Clare as– “Clare’s a champion,” and she had a modest career in this very, very insanely expensive sport. And, you know, “Clare’s a champion.” And Boom- that was just fed right and fed Clare’s crazy ego.
I had seen Edgar Bronfman Sr. interviewed on Charles Rose. And he was able to get tens of billions of dollars in restitution money for Holocaust victims. So, when I met Sara in 2003, I was like, “Oh my God. I’m a huge fan of your father, I know all about your family.”
And Sara was like, “Oh my God my father is such a disaster. He treats the World’s Jewish Congress like it’s his own private piggy bank. He needs this [NXIVM] training like he needs air.”
And I was like, What?
[Sara Bronfman enrolled her father in an NXIVM VIP training in New York City.]
I remember Nancy was really nervous about it because she was like, “Oh, my God. I’ve got Edgar Bronfman.” She had the attitude of “I better not screw it up.”
Edgar wanted to have better relationships with all of his children. And Nancy said, “If you reach your goal, instead of paying me, I’d like introductions.” And she gave him a list. It was like an insane list, Oprah and Steven Spielberg and Hillary Clinton, people like that on the list.
After a few months of working with Nancy, Edgar called her. He said, “Nancy, I can say I have wonderful relationships with my children. I couldn’t be happier.” And Nancy said, “Oh my gosh, Edgar, that’s great. Now that you’ve reached your goal, will you introduce me to the people on the list I gave you?” And he was like, “Oh, Nancy, I can’t do that, but I’ll pay you. Name, your price.”
And she said, “Well, Edgar, this is an ethics program. I have to hold you to our agreement.” And he got mad. And I’m sure you felt that force of like, “Wow, wait a second. This isn’t right.” And he’s like, “I’m not gonna shill for you, Nancy.” He hung up on her. And in a matter of weeks, Edgar Bronfman turns against NXIVM. There was a cover story in Forbes magazine. So, Edgar famously gave a five-word quote: “I think it’s a cult.”
I thought this was game over. The company went from having zero media attention to having this huge flip the switch overnight.
Keith and Nancy made it seem like this is this horrible victimization that was happening to them. And Clare and Sara supported that viewpoint, which is this is all our father to get back at us because of our involvement.
Nine years after Edgar Bronfman gave the quote to Forbes magazine, Clare was still paranoid that Edgar was campaigning to pummel NXIVM.
Like three months before he died, Clare had hired a documentary filmmaker. So, she shows up with the documentary film crew and tries to get him to confess on camera to a conspiracy against NXIVM.
Clare is renting a place for the director of the project, right across the street from where I live. And I saw him, and I was like, “Oh, how did it go?” So, I asked, “What happened? Did he confess?” He said to me, “No, he didn’t, you know.”
She used that sort of gaslight to torture the father as revenge against him for giving the quote to the [Forbes] magazine. That’s how dedicated she was to getting back at him for that.
And Clare’s just complete lack of conscience about it. And I was like “Wow, that’s cold.”
I don’t know the exact amount Clare inherited from her father. Still, I have heard that she and Sara would inherit about $250 million. So, I think having another 100 plus million to burn cemented her complete disconnect from reality or consequences for her actions.
Clare Bronfman said, “NXIVM was created by Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere in 1998. Keith Raniere is the conceptual founder, meaning it’s his philosophy. His concepts and methodology was created by him and then he and Ms. Salzman co-created the actual curriculum.”
The only way Clare likes people is when she owns them and when she can control their money. She can control their freedom of movement. She can control who they associate with. And that’s the only way she even likes people. She doesn’t like people just for people.
When Clare took over operations as CEO of NXIVM, it shocked me how much of a megalomaniac she was. She literally one day says, “From now on, I’m going to control all of your finances. You’re not going to get a paycheck. You’re going to get an allowance. I was like, what? And I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t think that’s appropriate.’ And she was like, ‘Well, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to get paid.’
Suddenly, she’s giving you life lessons wanting to criticize me or to point out all my flaws. And she was gaslighting me, bringing up my worst fears, worst experiences of my life, and childhood. These horrifying experiences in hospitals made me relive them endlessly in therapy under the pretense that this would help me.
I started to have nightmares about what I had been through. I began to have symptoms of PTSD. I didn’t really understand what was happening to me. My life was hell, and I was trapped. I was like a prisoner. That was what it was like, working for Clare. I really started to see her as a sociopath. I left in 2013. I was really terrified when I left because I thought, you know, the sky’s the limit as to what could happen to me?
Without having money, there’s only so far you’re gonna get in your ability to harm somebody. Her money made it all happen.
She’s got her story, and she’s stickin’ to it. That’s the mindset of a sociopath, which is they’re gonna push for the lie at all costs.