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.

Wednesday, December 18, 1991

Fellowship of Friends, Inc. v. Spilios

Complaint For Damages (Breach of Contract) filed in Superior Court, San Francisco.
Defendant: Damon Spilios, Managing Director of Ming Furniture Ltd. Abraham Goldman represented Fellowship of Friends. Order of Dismissal filed March 23, 1998.
Quoted from "A cult for Chinese furniture":
In the late 1970s, Burton began collecting Old Master paintings, ranging from a 15th-century cassone, or marriage-chest panel, by the Florentine Jacopo de Sellajo to still-lifes by Osias Beert the Elder and, possibly,Caravaggio. Then, in Paris in 1988, he saw two typically spare, minimalist Qing-period Chinese armchairs in the Ming style and the direction of the fellowship's collecting changed in a revelatory flash.

I immediately recognised that this furniture was second to none," he said, both in its serene beauty and its intelligent design, which combine to evoke a contemplative state of mind in those who behold it."

At the height of the market, the Old Masters were sold off at significant profit - a pair of 17th-century biblical scenes by Bernardo Cavallino fetched almost $2m at Sotheby's New York in 1989. Dispersed, too, was the collection of Chinese ceramics. With the proceeds, Burton began to acquire 17th and 18th-century Chinese classical furniture. Says London-based Chinese furniture dealer Nicholas Grindley: "It was a very good time to buy."

Burton bought heavily from Damon Spilios, of Florida dealers Ming Furniture, who certainly believed that classical Chinese furniture was undervalued. Burton also made significant purchases from Hong Kong dealers Grace Wu Bruce and Chan Shang Kee.