Much is made of the Dalai Lama’s claim to never receive any payment for imparting ancient Buddhist wisdom to materialistic westerners, but how does a simple monk travel and stay in splendor whilst not charging for his visits? Who pays and how?
Whenever articles are published that scratch the surface of the finances behind such tours the Dalai Lama’s team are quick to dismiss them. One example was the Dalai Lama’s visit to Albany to share a stage with Kieth Raniere in exchange for which he reportedly received a $1-$2 million ‘donation’ to one of his charities.
The question is, if the Dalai Lama doesn’t receive payments or donations for these visits who pays for the luxury accommodation he stays in and who pays for the private jet that he travels in? His current trip to Lithuania and Latvia is a case in point.
On the morning of June 11th a Gulfstream G450 executive jet took off from the Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi. 3 hours later it landed on the tarmac of Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi. This was its first journey in an extensive 10-day hire of the jet for the exclusive use of the Dalai Lama.
The Gulfstream G450 is a luxury private jet that can carry up to 16 passengers in addition to the two pilots and air hostess. The one chartered by the Dalai Lama belongs to Rotana Jet, a company based in the United Arab Emirates whose chairman is Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif Al Nahyan, a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi.
One aviation expert estimated the cost of hiring a Gulfstream G450 and crew for 10 days to be in the region of $750,000 – $850,000. The Private Fly website gives the charter cost of a G450 to be $150,000 (£113,000) for a round trip from London to Miami, so the estimated cost of the Dalai Lama’s charter of the jet seems to be in the right ballpark (https://www.privatefly.com/private-flights/how-much-does-a-private-flight-cost.html)
In addition to the cost of the jet, the Dalai Lama is currently residing in the Presidential Suite at the Radisson Blu Ridzene hotel in Riga which costs $1087 (€937) a night. When you add on the cost of his entourage, food, Mercedes Benz limousine, and security, the Dalai Lama’s latest trip to Lithuania and Latvia comes in at one million dollars.
To pay for this people are charged an entrance fee to events that he holds, such as talks in the Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania and the Skonto Hall in Riga, Latvia. According to the Dalai Lama’s own website 2,500 people attended the event in Vilnius each paying $33 (€28.50) for a ticket. Total sales for the event would therefore be $82,500 before deducting the cost of hiring the venue and advertising. The other talk the Dalai Lama gave in Lithuania was in the courtyard of Vilnius University and entry was free.
In Latvia he’s giving 3 days of teachings at the Skonto Hall to 4,000 people. Ticket prices for this event vary between $30 – $85 per day with 1,200 being sold at $85 and 2,800 at $30. This makes total ticket sales of $186,000 per day, or $558,000 for the whole 3 days.
If it costs $1,000,000 for the Dalai Lama’s travel and accommodations, yet the gross ticket income appears to be around $640,000, that leaves a shortfall of $360,000. When you also account for event overhead such as venue hire and advertising, it adds up to a loss of $500,000,
Is the Dalai Lama spending half a million dollars of his own money to teach people Buddhism or is there other money donated behind the scenes?
This is the precise type of arrangement that was reported to take place when the Dalai Lama visited Albany in 2009 to speak on stage to a largely NXIVM sex cult audience. It was reported that he was guaranteed a donation of $1 million by Seagram Heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman – ardent devotees of now jailed sex cult leader Keith Raniere. That event, based on ticket sales, did not even cover the cost of the event.
If we are to believe Clare Bronfman, the Dalai Lama came to Albany to speak to a largely NXIVM audience without getting anything for it whatsoever. Onstage, on May 6, 2009, Clare Bronfman told the audience that revenues for the Dalai Lama event was $140,821 and that thecost to put on the event was $283,570 — which meant that the event lost $142,749.
The result was, Clare said, there was nothing to give the Dalai Lama from the event.
Ten days after the Dalai Lama spoke in Albany, The Dalai Lama Trust was founded [May 16, 2009].
According to the Dalai Lama trust’s IRS 990 for 2009 during the fiscal year between March 30, 2009 and March 30, 2010 $2.2 million in donations and royalties were received by The Dalai Lama Trust for 2009. It is possible that the forming of the foundation 10 days after the NXIVM speech of the Dalai Lama is entirely coincidental.
The Dalai Lama’s official website denied reports that he received any donation from this event, let alone one million, yet we can see from this event and from his latest tour – and others like it – that there must be some income or donations other than just ticket sales, otherwise he’d be bankrupt by now.
None of this is to suggest impropriety but rather tends to validate a source who declared that the Bronfmans offered the Dalai Lama one million to speak for NXIVM and that it was her impression that there was never any concern about his or one of his organizations accepting it.
May 2009: The Dalai Lama, after calling upon Keith Raniere to be transparent, gives hims a white sash.