By Frank Parlato
Keith Alan Raniere was a man who had it all. He had the Bronfman fortune at his disposal. With two gullible sisters, willing to let him spend tens of millions on his plans and schemes – whatever it was – they didn’t care – he could have done good or evil.
They believed whatever he said.
And them not having earned a dime of the money made it hard for them to calculate just how much harm or good could be done with their inherited money. They had no proportion, no sense of money. A million was just something they knew they had lots of – they never worked to get it – and here’s someone telling them that he was able to know how to use it — far better than them.
And they believed him.
And he had a harem of pretty women waiting to serve and service him – at a moment’s notice. At any given time – at his sole discretion – he had the choice of at least a dozen or more women, who would drop everything and do anything he told them.
And when I say a dozen or more, I really mean more, at times much more. But the core dozen or so, he did not even have to work or persuade. He just had to hint and they would do whatever – from any kind of sex to any kind of errand.
Like he said once in an interview, the clothes he was wearing just magically appeared. Someone was always on top of making sure he had all the creature comforts he wanted.
For years, he had five women in his house – he slept alternately with them and would then go off some nights to sleep with other women at their homes – homes they bought or rented to live near him. For years, he lived menage a trois with Pam Cafritz and Mariana Fernandez – three in a bed. On many nights, he just went out for a walk and dropped in on any number of women – came in, dropped his trousers – came and went. Or stayed and slept.
He did not have to work. He ate what he pleased. He had women vying to buy him gifts, run errands, feed him grapes as he lay on a couch. He could call any number of women and tell him he might let them do his laundry – and they would rush away from whatever they were doing to pick up his soiled underwear and wash it and count it a blessing.
He had adoring devotees and a cult he founded where everyone who took a class entered, and praised him as Vanguard – and he never had to teach a class. He had hundreds of followers tell others he was the smartest man in the world, a top athlete and a great saintly ethicist.
He did not have to say it himself. He had others say it for him, so when he wanted fresh meat – his wing women set him up as akin to the gods. His own harem were his matchmakers and he had them all believing they were blessed in getting other women into his fold.
He could travel when he wanted – in private planes – he could sleep when he liked. Eat when he liked. Walked when he wanted with women waiting to go on walks with him. He had no schedule – except what he wanted when he wanted. Oftentimes, he kept people waiting for hours – made appointments and showed up late or not at all. Just because he changed his mind or did not feel like going.
Maybe another woman popped into his head and he decided to bed her. Or maybe he was tired and needed a nap. He was in the habit of making appointments and having people wait for him and when he did not show, he did not have to make excuses, or just made his standard excuse – oftentimes made through one of his women – that he was working on saving the mission – and he was excused. After all, he was Vanguard.
They were far below him. For he was the smartest, most ethical man in the world.
And when he called them next – he knew – for an appointment or a meeting or a bedroom frolic – he knew they would wait again – wait for hours – hoping he would come.
He had the people and the money to back him to do great things – make noble movies, write inspiring books, and publish them – or feed the hungry, serve the needy. He had powerful friends in Mexico, England and elsewhere. He had people who wanted his counsel. He had the world on a string. It was his oyster.
Somehow, this was not enough. He had to go and spoil it by branding women and blackmailing them. To set up a scheme so outlandish that anyone who heard it, would really call it bonkers.
But it was not the branding that did him in.
He got away with financial crimes for years. He had law enforcement in his area cowed or stymied or bribed. He used the US legal system – with its unfair advantages to those with wealth – to aggressively harass and oppress his enemies. He knew that with the Bronfman’s wealth to back him, he was untouchable.
But it was the making of enemies – of former friends and lovers – frightened people mostly – people he terrified – and sought to destroy – that undid him.
Most guys who have it as good as Vanguard, don’t bother much to seek out frightened former lovers or friends and engage them in public fights. Who sues their ex-lovers, when they have millions to burn? Usually someone with a Bronfman-sized fortune and a harem of adoring women doesn’t bother to make a public spectacle [and courts are public] to sue near bankrupt ex-lovers from whom they can never hope to recover any money, and then, after making them spend every dollar defending themselves in court, intervene in their bankruptcies.
The contented, stable person ends well with ex-lovers. They break clean and fair. They don’t try to put ex-lovers in prison or see them dead. No, most people who had the world by the tail would be content to enjoy it, and if one or two people – even an ex-lover or two out of hundreds of women – went their own way – they would be content to let them go.
What harm, really, could Toni Natalie or Barbara Bouchey have done to Vanguard if he had just let them go? Compared to the harm of his suing them and the indecent revelations about him that came out solely because he sued them, the harm would have been minuscule.
But not Vanguard. It was not about money. It was not about decency. He went after Toni Natalie over something like $50,000. He spent 100 times that going after her. It was not about money. It was not about principle. It was vengeance.
Even if Toni was in the wrong – it was stupid on his part. There was no noblesse oblige in this guy’s character. He had to settle scores with everyone. No one, but him, wanted the blood of Toni Natalie. Clare Bronfman and Sarah Bronfman-Igtet didn’t care. Nancy Salzman didn’t care.
He wanted to ruin Toni and they went along and helped because he told them to do so. If he had said, ‘Toni or Barbara are gone – good riddance,’ no one in his cult would have cared or thought of it again.
His vengeance ruined him.
I can’t say it enough. Almost any man – who worked and schemed in the first place to get it – would have been happy to piss away the Bronfman millions on caprices, live like a high school boy all his life – have all the women he wanted – and sleep all day and play all night. But not Vanguard. It was not enough to play volleyball with adoring women watching. He needed vengeance added to his game of tricks. He needed to ram the ball in somebody’s face.
He went after ex-lovers, Natalie, and Bouchey, ex-business associates and consultants – like Susan Dones, Joe O’Hara and myself. He went after Kristin Keeffe, the mother of his first child. And he went after those who wrote about him like Rick Ross, Suzanna Andrews and Jim Odato.
And, with everyone he sought to destroy, he gave no quarter, offered no respite, no olive branches. There was no settling. No turning back. It was bloodsport. And by degrees, with each public fight, the world learned more and more about the creature Raniere. His internet record turned foul. He lost untold potential followers because of that, because people Googled him and found that here was a guy with a lot of baggage.
But his internet record also served as warning to those who might try to leave him. He was a dangerous man.
Because he was relentless – he destroyed many of his former friends and lovers – turned enemies – or ruined their lives for years, put them in terror and fear, robbed them of their freedom, or their lot in life. Some he pushed underground to fight against him.
For years, for instance, Toni and Joe O’Hara fought – sometimes underground and sometimes publicly. Raniere started the war. He got them both indicted – twice. In turn, they dragged his name through the mud. Not because they were after him – but because he was out to get them – trying to destroy them. It was self defense.
He did this also to me. Had he let me alone, I would have went my own way – frankly unaware of how bad the monster was.
But when he had Clare Bronfman lie about me – perjure herself in the grand jury – it dawned on me that everything his critics said was true and probably worse.
He forced me to fight, and I took it up, once I knew he was rotten to the core, but I marveled also – ‘why would a guy who has it all seek to destroy me over a pittance?’ It wasn’t the money. It may sound like a lot – a million dollars. But I knew he would spend 10 times that to get me. No, it was something sick and sinister. And I knew then that I would have to get him, [or he’d get me] and that it would cost him far more than a million. But I also knew that if I lost, it would cost me my freedom.
The spark that turned to flame my long months of kindling was when Catherine Oxenberg called me and told me her daughter was branded. After months of investigating and writing about him, when she called, and I confirmed it was true, I said, “Eureka.”
I knew we had him.
I wrote about it – and people quit his cult. The branding was the shocker that got them. Even some of the branded women left – because they realized if I could write about branding and he didn’t release anyone’s collateral – they were safe to leave also.
So his cult cratered.
To put the finishing touch on it, the New York Times – giving me credit for breaking the story – and quoting Oxenberg, Mark Vicente, Bonnie Piesse, Anthony Ames, and Sarah Edmondson – who bravely showed her brand – made it worldwide news.
Barry Meier’s masterful and chilling story prompted the DOJ – Eastern District of New York – to do what other law enforcement failed to do — start investigating.
Many of the crimes I alleged – wound up being investigated. Raniere was arrested. So was Allison Mack, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and one of his heiress-benefactors too – Clare Bronfman. [Also arrested was the feeble, witless bookkeeper, Kathy Russell].
Had he not been a bully – he might have got away with branding.
Branding was merely the tipping point to launch an investigation – for a man who brands women is a man who would do other depraved and criminal things. But, in the end, it was not branding, but the fact that he went after people – that got him where he is now – in jail.
The people he hurt – me included – knew he would never leave them alone. No one could leave him without fear he would go after them. We had to fight. We had no choice.
This is what did him in.
Some of the women I spoke to got out safely by being quiet. They sneaked out and hoped he would not go after them. But they helped. They gave me information – to use against him. If he were stopped, they might not have to fear.
Some of them I helped get to a certain attorney – who has asked that his name not be revealed – who in turn got them to the FBI.
There were many people who wanted to end the risk of his going after them.
Toni Natalie and Joe O’Hara helped immensely. Susan Dones helped. Sarah Edmondson helped. Jen Kobelt, Anthony Ames, helped. Many others who asked that their names not be mentioned helped.
Some had been attacked and so they helped. Others helped for they knew he might one day attack them.
Bullies have to be fought. You cannot run. They are always after the weak, those weaker than them.
I had to proactively fight. I was fighting for my life. He thought I was weaker than him.
I know the only remedy for the strong oppressing the weak is to thrash the strong. With the help of some of his victims, and potential victims, we thrashed him.
He brought it on himself. Anybody else would have been content to live the life Raniere had, instead of going after associates and ex-lovers who would have otherwise left him alone – had he not sought to destroy them.
I hope he thinks of that during the long, cold, dark days in his prison cell. He’d be enjoying now, – they’d be calling him Vanguard – but for that – his fatal flaw: He was a man of vengeance and because he was a bully and a fool – he thought he could live by the sword and not die by it.