Sara Bronfman

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Sara Bronfman
Bronfman sara.jpg
Born1976 (age 42–43)
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.
Known forPhilanthropy, Humanitarianism
Basit Igtet
(m. 2012)
Parent(s)Edgar Bronfman Sr
Georgiana Bronfman Havers (née Rita Webb)
RelativesClare Bronfman (sister)

Sara Bronfman (born 1976) is the daughter of the billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr.[1] She has been involved in Humanitarian endeavors and the controversial organization NXIVM.


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.[1][2] 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.[3] Webb gave birth to Sara the following year, then Clare two and a half years later.[1]

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.[1][4]

Work in Libya[edit]

Sara Bronfman first became involved in aiding Libya after traveling as a delegate with the Independent Libya Foundation in November 2011, during the Arab Spring and after the death of Muammar Gaddafi. The delegation was headed by president and founder Basit Igtet (whom she would later marry[5]) and consisted of multiple humanitarian experts, including Adam Hock and Joseph Hagin. They toured post-Gaddafi Libya and presented their "multi-phase re-integration program," which was accepted by the local authorities of Benghazi, who were appointed by the Libyan National Transitional Council.

She has been involved with the U.S.-Libya Chamber of Commerce since its founding in November 2011 with the purpose of developing viable economic links between American and Libyan enterprises. The chamber announced that Sara, who was then a member on the board, would be the new president after the conclusion of a vote conducted by the organizations board members on February 20, 2012. The announcement occurred after Adam Hock resigned as president and board member to pursue private ventures within the country. In a press release Sara stated "as I am able to devote my efforts to the development of the Chamber to support bilateral trade between Libya and the United States, it is a privilege to take on this significant role as the President of the US-Libya Chamber of Commerce."[6] In an interview with the National Journal, Bronfman stated that the situation in Libya provides an opportunity for the State Department to change their tactics, and "rather than enforcing our ways on them, we need to understand their ways, learn from them and discover which of our country's many strengths we can (use to) best support them."[7]

Sara Bronfman is also involved with the Canada-Libya Chamber of Commerce, which was founded on March 12, 2012. Bronfman and husband Basit Igtet are the inaugural president and chairman of the board respectively. Positioned to provide help and advice to the people of Libya, the Chamber of Commerce discourage continued business with groups such as SNC-Lavalin, who allegedly did business with the Gadaffi regime.[8] The group is one of several working to restore the economy in the region.

Involvement in NXIVM[edit]

At the age of 25, Sara was introduced to NXIVM by a family friend. NXIVM is a multi-level marketing organization founded by Keith Raniere that claims to help individuals achieve self-discovery, offering personal and professional development seminars, but is sometimes referred to as a cult.

Sara has described herself, prior to discovering NXIVM, as "dilettantish."[9] After her introduction to NXIVM, Sara urged Clare, then 23, to become involved. This time, Clare was passionately committed to her equestrian career—she was a competitive jumper, trained horses, and owned her own company, Slate River Farm, but was described as being "a bit withdrawn and certainly the type to stay in and read while everyone else goes out."[1][4] After attending the first sessions at the NXIVM branch in Monterrey, Mexico in 2004, Clare's trainer and classmates stated that Clare had changed and had become more open.

Sara and Clare became committed followers of both NXIVM and its leader, Keith Raniere, 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]

Non-profit activities[edit]

Ethical humanitarian Foundation[edit]

Sara, along with her sister, Clare Bronfman, formed a non-profit organization called the Ethical Humanitarian Foundation after being "conceptualized" by Keith Raniere in 2007. She, Clare and Keith Raniere also established a non-profit organization called the World Ethical Foundations Consortium. Sara is listed as a Trustee of the organization.[14][15][15] The group claims that its goal is to move humanity "towards a more noble civilization" by adopting a "humanity first foundation".[16] As part of their involvement in WEFC, 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.[4][17] Sara had long been eager to meet the Dalai Lama. "She wanted the Dalai Lama to be her friend," wrote Maureen Tkacik in a New York Observer profile of the sisters. "She had been obsessed with him for two and a half years."[9] "I was literally in my bedroom one day listening to his tapes and thought to myself, 'Wow, this guy is amazing!'" Sara explained in a radio interview the day before the Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Albany.[9]

Sara Bronfman has been described as being "determined to stay true to her philanthropic roots" and as being "[i]nspired by the humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors of her father and late Grandfather, Edgar M. Bronfman, and Samuel Bronfman, Ms. Bronfman has been seeking to pursue the family tradition in ways that will truly benefit humanity. She views her work with ESP as a way of further developing herself personally and professionally, and as a means by which to inspire people and families such as her own to invest both themselves and their resources ethically."[12]

A Capella Innovations[edit]

Sara is a VIP Liaison with A Cappella Innovations, a non-profit organisation whose goal is to share the joy and enlightenment that comes from singing. The organisation hosted several events at the EGG performing arts center in Albany, New York, in 2008. These events included performances by Blake Lewis, Allison Mack, and Fork.

Special Olympics[edit]

In 2009, the Special Olympic games were held in Boise, Idaho. 85 nations were to be in attendance with over 3000 athletes competing in seven Olympic type sports. The event was to be attended by several dignitaries, including the Dalai Lama.[18]

On January 7, however, just a month before the games were set to begin, the Dalai Lama canceled under unclear circumstances. Two weeks later, on January 21, Sara Bronfman who had heard rumors that the invitation to the Dalai Lama had been withdrawn, wrote a letter to the Idaho Mountain Express, a local Blaine County newspaper, demanding that the Special Olympics board explain the cancellation. She stated that she would 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. She would do so, she said "not as a stand against the Special Olympics, but rather as a stand for the values she hoped to uphold when she chose to support the organization".[19] While the media drew no formal conclusion, official statements were made by both the Special Olympics Organizing Committee, which claimed that the Dalai Lama had turned down their invitation, and the Office of Tibet, which claimed that the organizers tried to appease Chinese opposition by rescheduling his visit to a date on which it would be impossible for him to attend.[20]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Libyan businessman Basit Igtet; they have one daughter.[21]

In 2017, Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the self-styled "Personal Emissary for Peace for the Dalai Lama," was suspended from his position amid corruption charges; the investigation also revealed a 2009 sexual relationship between Dhonden and Sara.[22]


  1. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ British Vanity Fair, 13 October 2010 Archived 2018-02-25 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ "Board of Directors Elects Sara Bronfman as President of the US-Libya Chamber of Commerce". PR Newswire Association LLC. February 20, 2012. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ "National Journal – Interview Sara Bronfman 14 January 2012". The National Journal. 14 January 2012. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ 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,
  9. ^ a b c 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Kohler, Nicholas (9 September 2011). "How to lose $100 million". Macleans. Archived from the original on 2 May 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ Suzanna Andrews (November 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ a b "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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ Odato, James (31 January 2011). "Papers reveal NXIVM secrets". Times Union. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  15. ^ a b "Ethical Humanitarian Foundation - Keith Raniere, Founder". Ethical Humanitarian Foundation. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  16. ^ "Ethical Humanitarian Foundation - Mission". Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  17. ^ DeMare, Carol. "Canada Tibet Committee". Canada Tibet Committee. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  18. ^ "Special Olympics will do without the Dalai Lama". Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  19. ^ Bronfman, Sara. "Why no Dalai Lama". Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  20. ^ "Dalai Lama disinvited to Special Olympics". Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  21. ^ Forbes: "Can A Business Entrepreneur Save Libya?" by Carrie Sheffield Archived 2017-10-17 at the Wayback Machine December 5, 2013
  22. ^ "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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)