Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

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.

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