Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Sunday, July 1, 1990

The Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture

[ed. - The date of this post is approximate. The Fellowship of Friends' focus on Ming furniture began with a 1987 journey to Paris, where Robert Burton, his Secretary Wayne Mott, and future museum curator Curtis Evarts observed a Ming era chair (link inactive). (See translated text below.) Over the next few years, the Fellowship's Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture was created.]

Excerpts from Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture, by Sarah Handler:
"In 1990 the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture opened in Renaissance, California. Founded by the Fellowship of Friends in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California, this museum was the only one in the world devoted exclusively to Chinese furniture. To promote the study and appreciation of furniture, the fellowship also published the quarterly Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society."

"San Francisco was again the site of a Chinese furniture exhibition in 1995–96, when the collection from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture was shown at the Pacific Heritage Museum and a catalog published. The Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society ceased publication at the end of 1994, and in September 1996 the museum’s entire collection was sold at Christie’s in New York for unprecedented sums.The collection had been formed during the 1980s and ’90s, when many excellent pieces of classical furniture were coming out of China."

"This book had its origins in the high-spirited rediscovery of classical furniture in the 1990s and developed from a series of articles I wrote about pieces in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture."

From: (link inactive)

(Translated from the Chinese) "California Museum of Chinese classical
furniture is a specialized collection of the world's first museum of
Ming furniture, hiding it in the vineyard under the foothills of the
Sierra Nevada from San Francisco to Reno direction dealers than three
hours, you can arrive Manor of 'outposts.' Park trails meandering, with
the potential ups and downs."
(Translated from the Chinese) "Here was a Ming-style
furniture traces exotic appendage premises Home-Page
of the owner in May 1994 allowed to visit the museum,
and the curator Curtis Evarts (right) and Chinese
Classical Furniture Society Quarterly editor
Jeanne Chapman (left) photo."
(Translated from the Chinese) This 18th century rosewood South Armchair [pictured above] led to the birth of Chinese classical furniture museum. In 1987, painter Wayne Mott and the Fellowship of Friends founder Robert Burton and future curator Curtis Evarts were on a tour in Paris. This armchair captured this group of people's heart, stunning them: "It's almost like a beautiful sculpture."

From New Perspectives on Chinese Furniture: (link inactive)
This emphasis on Chinese hardwood furniture continued as late as 1987 when the Fellowship of Friends, a non-profit organization in Renaissance, California chose to collect Chinese hardwood furniture as part of their belief that art elevates the spirit. The formation of the Renaissance Museum of Classical Chinese furniture and its subsequent sale at public auction of the collection some 9 years later was to magnify the importance of Chinese hardwood furniture. Firstly, by driving up the prices as they sought out the best pieces in the market, secondly through the scholarship that they promoted through their quarterly publication - the Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society - and finally when the pieces sold for record prices at auction.

[ed. - From: Ming Furniture Ltd.'s website. They would later be named in a Fellowship lawsuit.]
Ming Furniture Ltd.
New York, NY
Telephone: 212-734-9524

Ming Furniture Ltd. specializes in the sale of rare Huanghuali, Zitan, and Jichimu hardwood and lacquer furniture from China's golden age of furniture design, the Ming and early Qing dynasties, circa 1500-1775.

Since 1987, our gallery has been advising museums, foundations, corporations, and private collectors in their purchase of important Chinese furniture. Over twenty (20) pieces from our holdings have been sold to and can now be found in the great museum collections of Chinese furniture and art: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Guanfu Museum, Beijing. Ming Furniture Ltd. also played an instrumental role in the formation of the collection of the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture in Renaissance, California.