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Whale watching: The wealthy donors keeping Scientology afloat, 2015 edition

TrophiesKaren de la Carriere let us know that the new Impact magazine is out, and this is the one with photographs from the October gala held by the International Association of Scientologists.

After breaking tradition and holding its 2013 gala in Clearwater, Florida, the IAS returned this year to its usual place at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England, which was formerly the home of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The IAS was started as a special fund in the 1980s when Scientology was fighting some costly lawsuits. It was seen as a way to build up a defense fund which, over time, became a slush fund for a myriad of initiatives the church runs around the world. In 2012, former church executive Debbie Cook estimated that Miscavige had more than a billion dollars just in the IAS fund. Scientologists are under intense pressure to become lifetime members of the IAS ($5,000) and then “up their status” by giving even larger donations.

“Celebrities are important to Scientology. But what’s really keeping it going are the whales, the big, big spenders,” Karen tells us. “When you look at the photographs of these donors, page after page, it sure looks like they still have a solid core of people they can hit on to suck in millions.”

And just as Scientology “gamifies” everything else, it tries to make giving money to the IAS a kind of contest where you unlock new “statuses” the higher and higher you go. To become a “Patron” or “Patron with Honors” was once a big deal, and each came with a special plaque. But as wealthier Scientologists gave more and more money, the IAS had to come up with more and more status names — as well as gaudy trophies — and we’ve had a lot of fun watching them do it.

This October, the wealthiest donors of all, the Duggan family, once again busted through the top of the status scheme, and David Miscavige had to come up with yet another status name and trophy to recognize them for it.

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The newest trophy looks like an upside down chrome chicken with its tail feathers sticking skyward. And the name for this lofty new perch? Dave is calling it “Platinum Invictus.”

 
DugganInvictus

 
Here’s what Miscavige said at the ceremony, according to Impact

Platinum Invictus

The awards ceremony culminated in the monumental presentation of a new IAS status, now known as Platinum Invictus. It belongs to IAS legends, Bob and Trish Duggan and family. Forever our trailblazers, they continue to lead all contributors to the IAS.

In acknowledgment of who and what they now represent, the Chairman of the Board RTC stated:

“And with that, we come to…heaven. The status is known as Platinum Invictus, which roughly translates to ‘Unconquerable’ and further implies ‘Master of Fate.’ The trophy bears an LRH exhortation that reads: ‘I count on you — the individual Scientologist — to take up the challenge and to win. And the victory will be not only for you, but for Scientology and for all Mankind.’

“To which one might add: There are those who continually inspire others — raising the bar, pushing the envelope and stretching the known boundaries of what is possible in terms of IAS contribution. By way of example, just this week he challenged every top IAS player in town to rethink the mathematics of planetary clearing, and, sure enough, they did.

“While tonight, the mere mention of their names is about to inspire a hushed silence, or at least until it explodes, kind of like this: Every one of them now Platinum Invictus: Bob and Trish Duggan and their entire family.”

Caption: Chairman of the Board RTC acknowledges Bob & Trish Duggan and their children David, Dante and Diana as Platinum Invictus, the highest Honor Status in the IAS.

 
OK, so we know what you’re wondering: How much did Bob fork over?

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First, keep in mind that a status represents what you’ve given to the IAS over your entire career as a Scientologist. You might go years between reaching “Patron” and then “Patron with Honors.” So the people who were honored this year have given enough to make their new plateau. Another thing to keep in mind is that these statuses are only for money given to the IAS. There’s an entire separate set of statuses for donations to the Ideal Org construction and renovation projects, as well as other ways these wealthy whales can give. There’s no doubt, for example, that the Duggan family has given additional millions for Ideal Org campaigns. OK, so how much have they given the IAS?

Here’s what we wrote last year, when the Duggan family reached “Diamond Maximus with Honors,” which we estimated at $42 million.

In 2006, the IAS published a list of these status levels, and how much you had to have donated over your career in order to qualify…

Patron: $50,000
Patron with Honors: $100,000
Patron Meritorious: $250,000
Silver Meritorious: $500,000
Gold Meritorious: $1,000,000
Platinum Meritorious: $2,500,000
Diamond Meritorious: $5,000,000
Patron Laureate: $10,000,000

A few years later, some additional levels were added, but no dollar amounts were listed. (Scientology had apparently figured out that everything they published ended up on the Internet or something.) The new, even higher levels…

Platinum Laureate
Diamond Laureate

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Patron Excalibur
Platinum Excalibur
Diamond Excalibur
Patron Maximus

By extension, you would expect that if they went even higher, the next couple of levels would be Platinum Maximus, and Diamond Maximus. Also, at every level, you can also earn the additional tag “with Honors,” which means that you have given a bit more on the way to the next plateau.

Now, we’ve taken a stab at estimating what these higher statuses might stand for, using a conservative progression that is much less steep than the ones we already know about. Here’s our guesstimate:

Platinum Laureate — $12 million
Diamond Laureate — $15 million
Patron Excalibur — $20 million
Platinum Excalibur — $22 million
Diamond Excalibur — $25 million
Patron Maximus — $30 million
Platinum Maximus — $35 million
Diamond Maximus — $40 million

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After we published that list, we heard from a person who had worked in Scientology finances who told us our progression was indeed conservative. But we’re going to stick with it, and now, we’ll try to extend it. Here’s our new guesstimate for the entire list of IAS statuses…

Lifetime membership $5,000
Sponsor $10,000
Crusader $25,000
Patron $50,000
Patron with Honors $100,000
Patron Meritorious $250,000
Silver Meritorious $500,000
Gold Meritorious $1 million
Platinum Meritorious $2.5 million
Diamond Meritorious $5 million
Patron Laureate $10 million
Platinum Laureate $12 million
Diamond Laureate $15 million

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Patron Excalibur $20 million
Platinum Excalibur $22 million
Diamond Excalibur $25 million
Patron Maximus $30 million
Platinum Maximus $35 million
Diamond Maximus $40 million
Patron Invictus $50 million
Platinum Invictus $60 million

If we’re right, then the Duggan family has turned over about $60 million — and again, that’s just to the IAS. (But don’t worry about Bob’s wallet. He recently sold his cancer drug company, Pharmacyclics, for $22 billion, and Forbes estimates his current wealth as $3.5 billion.)

Also, only the Duggans were again rewarded by having David Miscavige in the photo with them. The rest of the millionaires had to go it alone. Here’s a sampling of them…

 
Dohrings

The Dohring family reached Diamond Meritorious with Honors (approx. $7 million). Doug Dohring founded Neopets, and now runs the company ABCmouse.com, which is racking up jillions of dollars from American kids across the country, one mouse click at a time.

 
Cummins

 
The Cummins family reached Diamond Meritorious ($5 million). Tom Cummins runs Consumer Sales Solutions, which is a telemarketing firm in Dunedin, Florida that represents energy companies in deregulated markets. Which sounds totally legit.

 
Pablo_Comparetto

Diamond Meritorious ($5 million): Pablo Comparetto and Freedom Medal winner Audrey Carera, of Miami

 
Benedetto_Lombardo

Platinum Meritorious with Honors (approx. $4 million): Benedetto and Carolina Lombardo, and children, from Venezuela

 
Ricardo_Demori

Platinum Meritorious with Honors (approx. $4 million): Ricardo and Thamaro Demori with daughter Isabela, from Venezuela

 
AlekseevaTrophy

Platinum Meritorious ($2.5 million): “Representing a new generation of Muscovites, this team is on an Ideal Org Crusade on behalf of Saint Petersburg.” Tatiana Alekseeva, Dmitry Fedorov, and Tatiana Leskova

 
Carol_Kingsley

Platinum Meritorious ($2.5 million): Carol Kingsley, auditor, co-founder of the Mace-Kingsley Family Center, which urges Scientologist parents to get their children auditing even as infants.

 
LorantoTrophy

Platinum Meritorious ($2.5 million): Federico Lorente, Catalina Banchero, and their daughter Silvana, from Venezuela, now living in Clearwater

 
Pedro_Chacon

Platinum Meritorious ($2.5 million): Pedro Chacon, from Venezuela

 
Wow, that’s a lot of Venezuelan money flowing into the coffers controlled by David Miscavige. And keep in mind that these are the top donors who upped their status this past year — other big donors exist who didn’t make the magazine this year. Also, there are many other donors who gave at a more modest level. So even if Miscavige’s policies are chasing away people like the DeWalls and Lorna Carleton, the big fish still keep Miscavige swimming in cash.

 
We had one more item we wanted to share with you. We found the language on this flier really unusual and interesting. Can you see that they expect this momentous anniversary to draw long departed Scientologists and Dianeticists, like people who were last involved in the early 1950s are going to show up or something?

Yeah, good luck with that.

 
StevensCreekFlier

 
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Bonus photos from our tipsters

Speaking of Tom Cummins, here he is at the Fort Harrison just a couple of days ago…

 
Tom_Cummins

 
And if you’re a Venezuelan whale giving millions, it looks like going up the Bridge takes no time at all!

 
Pedro_Chacon1Pedro_Chacon2Pedro_Chacon3

 
Chile has sent a delegation to the Freewinds!

 
FreewindsChile

 
The Drug-Free World campaign in Gallura, Italy is, for some reason, blanking out the faces of its victims, er, happy customers. Haven’t seen that before.

 
DrugFreeItalyDrugFreeItaly2

 
Here’s an odd one. Scientology’s cutting edge marketing apparently involved stenciling The Way to Happiness ads on railcars. And then someone came along and painted over the word “Don’t” in the slogan “Don’t do anything illegal.” Clever.

 
TWTHBoxcar

 
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BOOK NOTES

On May 14, you will be able to purchase ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ from Amazon in either electronic or print format, and simultaneously in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The book will not be available for pre-order before that date. It is going live for sale on Thursday, May 14, and not a moment earlier. And hey, that’s just a few weeks away, so you won’t have to wait long.

Our appearances…

May 16: Santa Barbara Humanist Society (with Paulette Cooper), 3:00 pm
May 17: Center for Inquiry-West Los Angeles, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, 11 am (with Paulette Cooper)
May 17: CFI Orange County (Costa Mesa), 4:30 pm (with Paulette Cooper)
May 20, San Diego We’re getting some help from locals trying to assist the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) find a venue for us (appearance with Paulette Cooper)
May 22: San Francisco (with Jamie DeWolf and Paulette Cooper)

(Finalizing a New York City event in early June)

June 20: Chicago
June 22/23: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper)

June 27/28: Florida (with Paulette Cooper)

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on May 3, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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