Sara Bronfman

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Sara Bronfman
Bronfman sara.jpg
Sara Rosner Bronfman

1976 (age 43–44)
Known forPhilanthropy, Humanitarianism, NXIVM
(m. 2012)
Parent(s)Edgar Bronfman Sr
Georgiana Bronfman Havers (née Rita Webb)
RelativesClare Bronfman (sister),

Sara Rosner Bronfman[1] (born 1976) is the daughter of the billionaire former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr.[2] From about 2001 until its 2019 demise, Bronfman was a leading funder and a member of the leadership team for the controversial multi-level marketing company and cult NXIVM, as was her sister, Clare Bronfman.


Her father, Canadian billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Sr., met her mother, Rita Webb, the daughter of an English pub owner from Essex, England, in Marbella, Spain.[2][3] Webb changed her first name to Georgiana and married Bronfman in 1975, two years after his divorce from his first wife, investment-banking heiress Ann Loeb.[4] Webb gave birth to Sara the following year, then Clare two and a half years later.[2]

Shortly after Clare's birth, Georgiana asked Edgar for a divorce. After Edgar married again in 1980, then was again divorced, the two sisters visited their father at his homes outside Charlottesville, Virginia; in Westchester County; at Sun Valley; and on Fifth Avenue in New York City, though their lives were centered in England and in Kenya, with their mother.[2][5]

NXIVM leadership and funding[edit]

In 2001, 25-year old Sara was introduced to NXIVM by a family friend. NXIVM is a multi-level marketing organization founded by Keith Raniere that claimed to help individuals achieve self-discovery, offering personal and professional development seminars, but has subsequently been identified as a cult.[6][7]

Sara has described herself, prior to discovering NXIVM, as "dilettantish".[8] After her introduction to NXIVM, Sara urged Clare, then 23, to become involved. Clare was then committed to her equestrian career as a competitive jumper, horse trainer, and owner Slate River Farm; she was described as being "a bit withdrawn and certainly the type to stay in and read while everyone else goes out."[2][5]

Sara and Clare became committed followers and financial backers of both NXIVM and its leader, Keith Raniere,[9] and relocated to upstate New York to work as NXIVM trainers.[10] "As Sara would later explain on her blog," wrote Suzanna Andrews in a profile of the sisters for Vanity Fair, "she was 'in search of finding ways to bring peace to the world.' According to [a] family friend, who put it more prosaically, she was desperately looking for some purpose in her life. And she found it at NXIVM."[11]

Sara began working with Raniere's company Executive Success Programs, Inc. (ESP) and its "proprietary technology" Rational Inquiry, which had been created by Raniere.

According to one source: "She founded the company's VIP Programs, which provide distinguished individuals with special training and coaching. These programs[,] facilitated by the company's President Nancy Salzman, were responsible for launching ESP into the British and Irish markets in 2005." Soon Sara Bronfman was on the Executive Board of ESP and had become "Director of Humanities, Regional Vice President, Professional Coach and Head Trainer".[12]

In September 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Bronfman in the Brooklyn Supreme Court, asserting that she "ensnared" Isabella Martinez and Gabrielle Leal, among others, into taking costly classes as part of "a fraudulent scheme nationwide" for Raniere and NXIVM.[13]

Sara and her husband founded the Athal Education Group, a France-based offshoot of Raniere's Rainbow Cultural Garden, as well as the UK branch of RCG itself.[14] The school was closed by the authorities in 2020.[15] On June 19, 2019, NXIVM founder Raniere was found guily of sex trafficking and racketeering.[16] At trial, prosecution witness and NXIVM defector Mark Vincente testified that Sara Bronfman was among Raniere's "trusted group" [17]

On January 28, 2020, Sara and Claire Bronfman were named as defendants when 80 victims sued NXIVM, saying they were victims of sex trafficking and forced labor.[18][6][19]

Collaboration with the Dalai Lama[edit]

In 2009, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, appeared onstage and presented Raniere with a white scarf.

Eager to distance themselves from cult allegations in the press, NXIVM members sought the endorsement of the Dalai Lama, spending $2 million on the project.[20] Sara, along with her sister, Clare Bronfman, and NXIVM founder Keith Raniere formed an organization called the World Ethical Foundations Consortium.[21][22][23]

In January 2009, after the Dalai Lama cancelled a planned visit to the Special Winter Olympics in Idaho, Sarah Bronfman wrote a letter to an Idaho newspaper in which she threatened to "formally resign as an honorary board member of the Special Olympics if it turned out that the Dalai Lama had been dis-invited by no fault of his own".[24][25][26]

Sara and Clare were credited with being able to bring the Dalai Lama to Albany to participate in the WEFC's inaugural event on May 6, 2009.[5][27][8] On May 6, 2009, the Dalai Lama traveled to Albany to give a talk; during the event, he presented Raniere with a white scarf onstage. The Dalai Lama additionally wrote the foreword to the book The Sphinx and Thelxiepeia, which Raniere co-authored in 2009.[28][29] Eight years later, it would be revealed Sara Bronfman had a 2009 sexual relationship with Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the Dalai Lama's gatekeeper who arranged the appearance, who as a monk had taken a vow of celibacy.[30] Amid accusations of corruption, Dhonden was replaced.[31][32]

Libyan involvement[edit]

In November 2011, Sara Bronfman traveled to Libya with fellow NXIVM member (and future spouse) Basit Igtet, accompanied by consultants including Adam Hock and Joseph Hagin.[33] In 2012, Igtet and Bronfman founded the Canada-Libya Chamber of Commerce, serving as its inaugural president and chairman of the board respectively.[34]

Personal life[edit]

In the early 2000s, Bronfman married Irish jockey Ronan Clarke; They divorced after four months.[35]

In 2009, Bronfman reportedly had a sexual relationship with Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the self-styled "Personal Emissary for Peace for the Dalai Lama"; the affair was made public after a 2017 investigation led to Dhonden's removal for corruption.[36]

In 2012, Bronfman married Libyan businessman Basit Igtet; the couple have one daughter.[37]


  1. ^ New West, p. NQ-53, at Google Books
  2. ^ a b c d e Andrews, Suzanna (November 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  3. ^ Kandell, Jonathan (December 22, 2013). "Edgar M. Bronfman, Who Built a Bigger, More Elegant Seagram, Dies at 84". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  4. ^ British Vanity Fair, 13 October 2010 Archived 2018-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c Tkacik, Maureen (23 April 2011). "Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 15 November 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  6. ^ a b Campbell, Jon (31 January 2020). "Keith Raniere, Allison Mack hit with big lawsuit over NXIVM cult". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Maureen Tkacik (8-10-2010). "Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman". New York Observer. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Lyons, Brendan J.; Rubel, Abigail (April 20, 2019). "Bronfman, Russell plead guilty in NXIVM case". Times Union. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  10. ^ Kohler, Nicholas (9 September 2011). "How to lose $100 million". Macleans. Archived from the original on 2 May 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  11. ^ Suzanna Andrews (November 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  12. ^ "Sara Bronfman: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Personal & Professional Coach". Ethical Humanitarian: A Foundation for Ethical Humanitarianism. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  13. ^ Saul, Emily (4 September 2018). "Another Seagram's heiress sued in Nxivm 'sex cult' case". New York Post. Archived from the original on 13 September 2018. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Moynihan, Colin (June 19, 2019). "Nxivm Trial: Leader Convicted After Trial Exposed Sex Cult's Sordid Inner Workings". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 15, 2020. ...Keith Raniere, the leader of the cult-like group near Albany known as Nxivm, guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking, ending a six-week trial that exposed the sordid inner workings of the organization.
  17. ^
  18. ^ January 29, Max Mitchell |; PM, 2020 at 03:22. "80 Victims of NXIVM Sex Slave Cult File Mass Action Suit". New York Law Journal. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  19. ^ Page 12 of complaint
  20. ^ Yakowicz, Will (May 31, 2019). "From Heiress To Felon: How Clare Bronfman Wound Up In 'Cult-Like' Group Nxivm". Forbes.
  21. ^ Odato, James (31 January 2011). "Papers reveal NXIVM secrets". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  22. ^ "Ethical Humanitarian Foundation - Keith Raniere, Founder". Ethical Humanitarian Foundation. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  23. ^ "Ethical Humanitarian Foundation - Mission". Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  24. ^ "Special Olympics will do without the Dalai Lama". Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  25. ^ Bronfman, Sara. "Why no Dalai Lama". Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Dalai Lama disinvited to Special Olympics". Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  27. ^ DeMare, Carol. "Canada Tibet Committee". Canada Tibet Committee. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  28. ^ Parlato, Frank (February 11, 2018). "Keith Raniere revamps website,".
  29. ^
  30. ^ Oxenberg, Catherine (August 7, 2018). Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult. ISBN 9781982100674.
  31. ^ "Suspended Lama Tenzin Dhonden Had A Lover Too!". Tibetan Journal. November 1, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  32. ^ Carroll, Rory (November 29, 2017). "Controversial monk and Dalai Lama aide replaced amid corruption accusations". The Guardian. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  33. ^ Parti, Tarini; Rostom, Aram (18 June 2018). "A Top Trump Aide Worked In Libya With Key Backers Of An Alleged "Sex Cult"". Archived from the original on 21 July 2018.
  34. ^ Bronfman heir launches Libya initiative; Canada-Libya Chamber of Commerce will not deal with SNC-Lavalin or other firms alleged to have had close ties with Gadhafi family The Globe and Mail (Canada) March 17, 2012 Saturday,
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Suspended Lama Tenzin Dhonden Had A Lover Too!". Tibetan Journal. 2017-11-01. Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  37. ^ Forbes: "Can A Business Entrepreneur Save Libya?" by Carrie Sheffield Archived 2017-10-17 at the Wayback Machine December 5, 2013

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