The New York Observer vs. New York's $100M Cult: The Top 10 Lines
- Absurdly rich young heiresses.
- Absurdly rich young heiresses to the Seagram's Gin fortune -- among other fortunes -- who lost $100M and counting of their family's money.
- Absurdly rich young heiresses who lost $100M and counting of their family's fortune to a psychotic New York cult-cum-pyramid scheme you've likely never heard of.
- Absurdly rich young heiresses entangled in cultures of paranoia, fear, jealousy, family drama, quasi-attempted murder, and shittons of money.
- Singer/rapper M.I.A.'s fiancé and Virgin/Atlantic billionaire Richard Branson.
And it's one of the best things you're going to read in a while.
Interesting that it hasn't had more "pickup" among the New York media set, because it's quite a story, and has all the makings of a classic New York tale: big money, big names, sex, manipulation, crazy people, fear, and power. A lot of power, apparently. The cult based in Saratoga Springs, New York (about an hour north of Albany) is called NXIVM -- pronounced Nex-ee-um -- and is lead by a long-haired sleaze (and apparent super-MENSA genius) who calls himself "Vanguard" (né Keith Raniere, pictured). The beliefs of NXIVM are kinda vague, but it's a bizarre cocktail of ESP, self-help, hypnosis, pyramid schemes, and way too much Ayn Rand.
The Village Voice touched on the NXIVM story back in 2007 when Chris Thompson wrote about a guy named Juval Aviv, a guy who claims to be ex-Mossad who Keith Raniere/NXIVM hired to smear (and one time, almost kill) an anti-cult activist and "de-programmer" named Rick Ross, who NXIVM also tried to sue on a variety of charges, none of which they've won so far. The New York Post also got into the complete and utter insanity of NXIVM last month when they detailed a motherless 3 year-old orphan who Keith Raniere has named "Gaelen" and raised as his "son" despite not being the biological father.
But all of that kinda pales in comparison to Maureen Tkacik's Observer story this week, which is, to be blunt, fucking insane. To demonstrate this, and apropos of nothing else, here are my ten favorite lines from it, completely out-of-context, and in no particular order, emphasis mine:
Scandalous, fun, insane. Read it. It's worth noting that these NXIVM crazies are as litigious as they are freaky! So they might be warming up a lawsuit for the New York Observer as they speak. Not that we'd ever want to provoke a lawsuit, but come on: this is a great story about the way people -- especially people who have been well-protected and cared for their entire lives -- allow themselves to be so easily manipulated. Sometimes, the grass is definitely not greener, and it's actually quite nice -- if not, disturbing -- to know what that kind of life is like: one you'd want to steer very, very clear of.