Introduction


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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Saturday, October 12, 1996

Record-setting sale establishes Chinese furniture in the West

[ed. - Sourced from proquest.com.]
The Vancouver Sun [Vancouver, B.C]
12 Oct 1996: E.9.

Abstract (summary)

The sale two weeks ago of Ming and Ching chairs and tables at Christie's in New York that totalled $11.2 million did more than set records. It signalled the coming of age in the marketplace for Chinese furniture, which had long been overlooked by collectors.

"Chinese furniture is no longer the orphan of the art world," says Theow-Huang Tow, head of the department of Chinese art at Christie's.

Christie's sale on Sept. 19 was the first auction of a comprehensive collection of Chinese furniture in the West and was the highlight of a week of Asian art sales in New York.

Full Text

The sale two weeks ago of Ming and Ching chairs and tables at Christie's in New York that totalled $11.2 million did more than set records. It signalled the coming of age in the marketplace for Chinese furniture, which had long been overlooked by collectors.

"Chinese furniture is no longer the orphan of the art world," says Theow-Huang Tow, head of the department of Chinese art at Christie's.

While the market in Chinese art had expanded steadily since the early 1970s, the strong international interest in this furniture is unprecedented.

For the most part, collectors of Chinese art had begun by buying small, readily available items like vases, boxes and paintings before moving on to bulkier, more substantial acquisitions like furniture.

As the market grew, bolstered by several scholarly books and exhibitions, big-name collectors and museums quietly began competing for the choicest pieces. They paid under $100,000 for pieces until 1990, when prices began to escalate.

Christie's sale on Sept. 19 was the first auction of a comprehensive collection of Chinese furniture in the West and was the highlight of a week of Asian art sales in New York.

The 107 chairs, tables, cabinets and screens sold at Christie's were from the Ming (1368-1644) and Ching (1644-1912) dynasties, the periods that inspired much that is distinctive and graceful in Western furniture: cabriole legs, claw-and-ball feet, tapered silhouettes and back splats on chairs.

The collection was assembled in the 1980s by the Fellowship of Friends, a philosophical and religious organization based in Apollo, Calif. It was sold in 1995 to Johnny Chen, a Taiwanese businessman, who sent it to Christie's.

The sale attracted buyers from around the world. Most were Americans, although Asians and Europeans were broadly represented.

"There's never been this concentration of high quality material in a Chinese furniture collection that also had an aura surrounding it," says Maxwell Hearn, curator of Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in explaining the heightened interest in the sale. "Asian art has been undervalued, but that's changing now, as Asians become interested in owning their own heritage."

The bidding was driven by several prominent museums but mostly by private collectors. Michael Ovitz, president of the Walt Disney Co., bought a pair of tall, angular cabinets carved with figures of lions and dragons for a record $607,500. He bought through Nicholas Grindley, a London dealer, with whom he sat during the bidding.

Grindley was the most active buyer that day, spending a total of $1.6 million. He also acquired for Ovitz five horseshoe-back chairs.

The Metropolitan paid $173,000 for a generously proportioned 300-year-old painting table. That table, along with a more elaborate one carved with dragons and scrolls that the museum bought that week at Sotheby's for $310,500, will go on view in May, when the museum's Chinese decorative arts galleries open.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art paid $1.1 million, a record for Chinese furniture, for the rarest object at Christie's, a screen with a marble plaque striated with an image resembling mountains.

Robert Jacobson, the museum's curatorial chairman, says the screen would be a centerpiece of its new Chinese furniture galleries, part of a wing that will open in 1998.

Jacobson, who spent a total of $1.5 million at Christie's for eight pieces of furniture, also bought a horseshoe-back chair for $453,500 at Sotheby's.

Coincidentally, an exhibition of Ming and Ching furniture, "Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th Centuries," is currently on view at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Credit: NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

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