How much money did heiress Clare Bronfman spend on NXIVM?
On Wednesday, people anxiously awaited the sentence of NXIVM’ “head of legal” Clare Bronfman. While her court date began at 11:00 a.m. in Brooklyn, New York, the gavel didn’t come down until nearly 5:00 p.m., when Bronfman received nearly seven years for her role bankrolling NXIVM’s activities, including relentless “scorched earth” lawsuits against NXIVM defectors.
Clare Bronfman’s sentencing took a while due to the eleven victims who came forward to share their stories with the court. Toni Natalie, former girlfriend of Keith Raniere, told the court “Clare Bronfman was a pivotal part of trying to destroy my life”, describing the lawsuits Bronfman financed against her. “I wasn’t scorched, I was incinerated.”
Clare Bronfman was sentenced to eighty-one months in prison for “conspiracy to conceal and harbor aliens for financial gain” and identity theft. The sentencing was stiffer than expected due to federal judge Nicholas Garaufis “upward sentencing” which considered how Bronfman’s deep pockets enabled NXIVM to get away with their crimes for so long. How much money did Clare Bronfman sink into NXIVM? Let’s take a look.
The Seagram fortune
Clare Bronfman is an heiress to Seagram Liquor Company. Her father, Edgar Bronfman, sold the company in 2000 for $34 billion. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Bronfman has a net worth of $500 million, but other sources say it isn’t that high.
However, given her endless financing of NXIVM’s lawsuits, it could be. Her bond was set at $100 million, a price she could meet to spend the following two years in the comfort of her home. A Vanity Fair article alleged that Clare Bronfman & her sister, Sara, sank $150 million of her trust into NXIVM by 2010.
How Clare Bronfman met NXIVM
Clare Bronfman was approached by Nancy Salzman personally. Salzman was NXIVM’s co-founder and according to the HBO docuseries The Vow, recruiting high-profile, wealthy members was a priority for the cult. Not only would deep pockets help NXIVM stay afloat, but they would help Keith Raniere avoid scrutiny.
The reasoning went, as NXIVM faced outside criticism for cult-like behavior, they could point to these high-ranking members as “proof” they weren’t in a cult. How could someone from a wealthy family or someone who was a well-known actress be taken in by a cult?
In 2010, Clare & Sara Bronfman went to their father with a letter. It was addressed to Sara, demanding $2 million by midnight or embarrassing personal information about the heiresses would be leaked.
Was Clare Bronfman blackmailed?
Their father, who already had misgivings about NXIVM (he referred to them as a cult in private conversations) went to the media. A Vanity Fair article came out about the Bronfman sisters’ involvement in NXIVM, and how much of their trust they spent on the group.
When the Vanity Fair article appeared, NXIVM leader Keith Raniere was furious. He allegedly made Clare Bronfman swear to only use her money “ethically” from then on, keeping her on a tighter leash than before.
Clare Bronfman wrote these words in a letter to a federal judge a month before her sentencing. “Many people, including most of my own family, believe I should disavow Keith and NXIVM, and that I have not is hard for them to understand or accept. However, for me, NXIVM and Keith greatly changed my life for the better.”
Clare Bronfman doesn’t regret NXIVM
Clare Bronfman maintains that NXIVM gave her a sense of confidence and helped her stop feeling ashamed of her privilege. “For much of my life I was ashamed of my wealth, I felt it made me different, when all I wanted was to be accepted.” Bronfman wrote.
In response, one of Bronfman’s lawsuit victims, Susan Dones, called her out in a statement. “Did you ever consider they were just after your money? What would happen if you just stopped giving them money? Where would you stand in your importance to them?”
Despite the devastating financial damage Clare Bronfman hurled at Susan Dones & others, Dones says she’s let her anger go and hopes Bronfman will see the light. “I pray that you will declaw yourself from Keith Raniere. He is killing you and only interested in your money and social status. If you stop paying his way, you will see how important you are to him.”