The Great BMOrg Cash Out of 2010 to 2016 – $28 Million to $45 Million, Est.

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED: More recent version here.

Ed. note: This is a guest post by one of our commenters, who goes by ABalancedPerspective, on the estimated cash out by the BRC LLC members.

balanceThis is a guest post, it is not penned by burnersxxx, whose blog this is upon. As the cartoons are penned by Christopher, not burnersxxx, this is confusing to many. Much obliged, burnersxxx, for permitting me to pen a guest post. I am solely a typical burner whom has attempted to contribute towards the throwing of the awesome crowd sourced party upon the playa, many thousands of awesome Burners have contributed far more than I.

There is so much awesomeness, the Burning Man event, Burner culture, contributing Burners, 10:00 and 2:00 sectors, Esplanade camps, artists, temple builders, DPW, BRC Rangers, Gate, Pyro Team, Rampart, fire spinners, mutant vehicle owners, thousands of volunteers, Participants, and most who have laboured for the Burning Man organization, almost all, so many awesome Burners! But, I believe in fair play, and I am of the belief that the facts of the seven annum cash out, of 2010 to 2016, of the six former owners of Burning Man, should be reported upon, in a properly documented manner, towards the purpose of Burners gaining a better comprehension of the huge cash out, towards the making of their own decisions and negotiations with the organization.


A summary of the, by appearances, by simple maths, capitalistic cash out of 2010 to 2016, of the six former BRC LLC owners follows, with $28 million to $45 million of cash directed towards minting them, mostly free of taxation levies. Upon averages, each of the six former BRC LLC owners will pocket as much cash as was commissioned by them for all the art, including the temples, within the entire history of Burning Man, which is less than $6 million, by the afterburn reports. By these maths, the cash directed towards the pockets of the six is nearly $100 for each ticket sold from 2010 to 2016. Not a shabby capitalistic pocketing for a crowd sourced party that awesome Burners have thrown for two decades upon our gifted sound camps, theme camps, mutant vehicles, art projects, and the labours of many thousands of Burner volunteers. IF ANYONE, PERCHANCE, MIGHT PROVE ANY OF THIS TO BE INCORRECT, PLEASE DO SO, I WOULD BE VERY MUCH OBLIGED, TOWARDS OBTAINING BETTER MATHS UPON THEIR SEVEN ANNUM CASH OUT.
As Larry Harvey stated upon the Charlie Rose show, ‘We never said we weren’t capitalists’. This summary of their huge cash out is upon their statements and upon simple maths upon their afterburn reports, the SFBG newspaper reporting by Scribe, the articles Decommodification, Inc and Clarification of Decommodification by burnersxxx about Decommodification, LLC, the statements of Larry Harvey, and upon Corporate Wiki.

Black Rock City LLC, a Corporation, Doing Business As Burning Man, and the 501(c)3 Burning Man Project

Black Rock City (BRC) LLC formed within 1999 with Larry Harvey, Marian Goodell, William Roger Peterson, Crimson Rose Elliot Peterson, Michael Danger Ranger Mikel, and Harley Dubois as owners. At 2013 end, they donated the BRC LLC to the 501(c)3 non-profit Burning Man Project, with the BRC LLC, at present, a subsidiary corporation of the Project. The six are, at present, also upon the Burning Man Project Board of Directors. In addendum, Marian is CEO or President of the Burning Man Project, Larry is Executive Director of the Burning Man Project, William Roger Peterson is the Project’s Director of Nevada Relations and Special Projects, and Harley Dubois is the Project’s Transition Manager.

Details of their 2010 – 2016, $28 Million to $45 Million Cash Out

2010: over $4 million of salary, payroll was raised from $2.8 million of 2009 towards $7.2 million of 2010, with solely 30 salary employees and the six BRC LLC owners to pay as the Senior Staff. Temporary events contract labourers, such as DPW crew and administrative, gained solely $231,783 and consultants, such as legal and accounting, gained solely $1,468,000, ledgered upon separate lines. Thusly, unless the salaried labourers gained, upon averages, over $100,000 each, the six LLC owners gained over $4 million of payroll.

2011: over $4 million of salary from $7.1 million of payroll
2012: over $4 million of salary from $7.8 million of payroll
2013: over $4 million of salary, or the cash was paid towards the six LLC owners upon the BRC LLC donation to the Project

2013 end: the six donated their BRC LLC to the 501(c)3 non-profit Burning Man Project, though firstly the BRC LLC was stripped of cash towards their pockets, property towards their Black Rock City Properties LLC or their Gerlach Holdings LLC with verification needed upon this, and the Burning Man(TM) name, )*( logo, and other trademarks stripped towards their owned Decommodification LLC. The amount of cash might not have been large, perchance $5 million or so forth, we have not been informed upon this amount, nor will we be informed upon this amount, despite  Larry stating to the contrary. We will solely learn of the cash remaining upon the ledger upon the donation.

seesaw goldThey obtained brilliant advice upon this donation, they are already pocketing most of the cash profits from seven annums of the Burning Man(TM) event, so how might they, perchance, gain of even more? Their donation of the BRC LLC towards the 501(c)3 Project results upon most of their cash out being free from taxation levies in due of the future profits of the BRC LLC from the Burning Man(TM) event. In addendum, the donation permits them to mandate how this donation is to be utilized by the Project.

2014 and 2015 and 2016: payments are to occur, for the utilization of the trademarks, from the regionals and the Burning Man event, towards the Decommodification LLC owned by the six of them. Marian has stated the amounts were to be determined by the Project. We will be informed upon this amount nine months after the annual taxation filings of the Project, and upon the afterburn reports of the regionals parties, should these reports not be hidden from Burners. Cash will be banked, by the Project, from 2014 and 2015 towards the huge payoff in 2016 for the purchase the Burning Man(TM) trademark and logos. In addendum, five of the six are the recipients of reasonable salaries from the Burning Man Project, perchance, $100,000 to $400,000 each annum. TBD is whether the six, through Black Rock City Properties LLC or Gerlach Holdings LLC, are leasing properties in Gerlach to the Project.

2016 end: the Burning Man Project is to purchase Decommodification LLC, owned by the six, containing the Burning Man(TM) name, )*( logos, and additional trademarks, such as Decompression(TM) and Decommodification(TM), that’s when they will be paid for their value. One may reasonably assume the payment for their Decommodification LLC, or of the trademarks owned by their Decommodification LLC, is not less than three times their prior over $4 million annual salary, thusly over $12 million for the three annums of 2014 to 2016. Indications are the price for the Burning Man(TM) name was priorly agreed upon within 2011, prior to the doubling of Burning Man(TM) event revenues from $13 million to $25 million, so the price, perchance, might not be more than $20 million.

The Burning Man Project should be disclosing this material amount to maintain 501(c)3 charitable public benefit organization status towards future donations, of cash and of labour, especially upon consideration the decisions of the six have benefit towards them of whether the cash to purchase the trademarks will be available for them to pocket within 2016, and the Project board being composed of the six, whom are permanent members, and eleven others appointed for solely one year at a time, thusly limiting their power to disagree  A summary upon 501(c)3 California law, commentary by knowledgeable people is desired, please disclose if you have signed any agreement to be a representative of Burning Man or part of their social media crew.

Thusly, by simple maths, $28 million to $45 million, over the annums of 2010 to 2016, is directed towards the pockets of Larry, Marian, and the other four former BRC LLC corporation owners.

The Future

Larry has talked about possessing a 100 year plan, but, the Burner community was not involved in the creation of Larry’s plan, despite promises to the contrary. Upon the donation of the BRC LLC towards the 501(c)3 Project, the six, perchance, might have mandated the utilization of the donation, which the Project is obliged, by law, to obey. Is this Larry’s 100 year plan? All we are of the knowledge is, despite statements to the contrary, and despite the six no longer owning the Burning Man business, they remain in firm control of Burning Man, and the awesome Burner community has minimal voice.

The event has changed from one of the counter culture, towards one of middle class conformity, with an embrace of rules, and many attendees being of the belief of the police agencies being upon the playa for our safety. The tickets are sold, each annum, to 40 per cent newbies, in the place of now-former Burners, with three of four attendees venturing two or fewer prior times to the playa, and, with solely one of eight attendees venturing more than four prior times to the playa. Most attendees of the event are unaware of ‘There are no Spectators, only Participants’, establishing the culture, and, are unaware of, in the place of Burning Man paying significant funds towards the awesome sound camps, mutant vehicles, and other awesome attractions, as is done by most festivals, Burning Man has a lead wallet, charging them listed price for their tickets and vehicle levies, except for a small number. This is to continue in the future.

For those, whether a true believer or representatives of the organization, wishing to parrot the PR talking points of the six former BRC LLC owners upon becoming minted by their pocketing of their substantial energetic return, here is a link.



data from Black Rock City Census

data from Black Rock City Census

52 comments on “The Great BMOrg Cash Out of 2010 to 2016 – $28 Million to $45 Million, Est.

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  8. Oh, that’s why they are called “numb”-ers. Lol. When you think about it, why does anything cost what it costs and what is money.. or gold, for that matter?

    I do recall Larry stating in a burning blog somewhere that all these numbers will be revealed at some point in the not so distant future of this non-profit transition.

    I have always felt that the ticket prices were a balance, keeping the income greater than the expenses without taking on corporate sponsors. This allows the event to continue as opposed to go belly up. As I recall in ’97, the event ended up $200,000 in debt. I appreciate that they do the work and take on the burden of responsibility to keep this game ahead of the game.

    If it turns out that the LLC members are taking more than is reasonable by whatever standards we may believe, we will have to decide to take whatever action makes sense to each of us.

    So far, I’m more inclined to be greatful for their contributions rather than prematurely fear their corruption. Whenever I encounter any of the LLC members, I see them engaged in positive actions and not wallowing in gross excess.

    Sorry for being so long here… Just one last thought… I appreciate your wanting this beast to grow and be healthy, so to speak, and I also believe that your scrutiny of these maters has its part in being helpful in its growing and evolving… nuff said 🙂

    • I have no problem with them making money. We all gladly buy tickets. After nearly 30 years, the founders deserve to take some cash off the table.

      I have a problem with the constant promises of “we will reveal all soon” (for more than three years now); mixed in with the message bombardment of “we are making the world a better place” and “you need to donate now because the Burning Man Project costs money and we don’t have enough money”; and “we’ve generously given this entire event to the community as a non-profit – we believe in Gifting too!” They say “we believe in Decommodification, it’s fundamental to our culture which is more than just one event, it’s spreading all around the world” – and then they set up a company named “Decommodification LLC”, a for-profit company privately owned by the founders, which licenses all our art and images and good times for royalties. In total secrecy. Even more than that, I have a problem with the BMOrg’s attitude of “only we can make money from this, and we will sue the Burner ecosystem if they try to”

      WHY ALL THE SECRECY? If their accounting software works, why can’t everything been revealed “now”, instead of “some time in the future”? And if it doesn’t work, why can’t they ask their broad, successful, powerful community for help with it?

      What’s the hold-up, BMOrg?

    • Numb-ers and were’ds…

      A brilliantly penned comment, I was curious as to when an insider would provide commentary. Kudos on all you have done for the organization, many awesome people are in the organization.

      As towards your comment, as you know, Larry was untruthful of his stating of all these numbers will be revealed at some point in the not so distant future, a clean, well lighted suite of rooms. Marian stated otherwise within the SFBG, that we will not learn of the payouts, and the bylaws of the Project are penned to prevent Burners from gaining the knowledge of most prior and future payments of cash towards their pockets. In addendum, as you know, this estimation of their cash out is simple to perform upon the afterburn reports and upon their statements, the numbers are there to do so. In further addendum, doing a divide and conquer strategy of Burners whom disagree, stating to them to make their own personal decision, and not labouring with others to gain needed changes of the event, is an expected PR response.

      A few queries to you –

      – Is there a field, within the Burner Profiles, or towards halting scalpers, which resulted in the ticket buyer waiting on his computer until all tickets were sold? Was that field clicked upon for Burners whom might have disagreed with Larry’s policies, or for people in camps that you did not desire to be on the playa?

      – Might you prove any number or any statement of my estimation to be incorrect? None have, as of yet, proved any number or statement to be incorrect. I was incorrect upon, I was naive in the belief of 501(c)3 laws require telling donors of huge payments of cash towards their pockets, and I did not know about cash towards their owned Decommodification LLC for licensing of images from Burning Man(TM),

      – What is occurring of the 501(c)3 paperwork and the office of the California Attorneys General, ministering the licenses of 501(c)3 non profits? I might be naive, but I do not comprehend the manner upon which the Project, and their owned BRC LLC, may take donations of cash, labour, and art, with their hidden, from donors, conflicts of interest, hidden payments towards their other for profit corporations, hidden mandatory conditions of the BRC LLC donation to the Project, and a hidden huge payment for their Burning Man(TM) trademarks within 2016.

      Yes, they did a good job prior, but, this huge cash out was planned, within 2011, for them to retire towards the scenery, and return Burning Man to the Burning Man community, whom has thrown this awesome crowd sourced party for the prior two decades. Instead, they have taken most of the cash of which they could towards their pockets, have lead wallets towards any others throwing this party, eliminated most of the Burner community whom Participated in the throwing of the party from the playa, and, yet, insist upon staying in control. And, they desire the Burner community to respect them, listen to their statements, labour for mostly free for them, and obey their commands?

      • The wording in the job posting for their new “Associate Counsel” position is telling:

        “Major duties include ongoing project management of outside counsel, enforcement of intellectual property portfolio, contracts administration and nonprofit corporate governance. Other duties include drafting correspondence and reports. Judgment, professionalism, and initiative are frequently exercised in answering and interpreting verbal and written communications and projects.”

        ENFORCEMENT. Not “we want to spread these assets to the world, and use the money we make to do good”. Instead “we want to shut everyone down who uses IP, even if it’s not ours we’ll try to claim it”.

        NON-PROFIT CORPORATE GOVERNANCE – ie blame the new guy for inheriting the flawed system set up by others.

        It’s also amusing to note that judgement and professionalism are “frequently” exercised – meaning that there are times when these aren’t required.

        Get your STEP tickets yet? I know I didn’t!

      • If the person I replied to above, is not a person whom commented on this blog at the end of 2013, apology in advance.

    • “not so distant future of this non-profit transition”…they told us in January that the non-profit transition was complete, so it’s a thing of the past now. Larry’s promise to reveal all the numbers was at the beginning of 2014, now we’re coming up to the end of 2014. We’re waiting with bated breath.

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  10. I sourced this post from their numbers, statements, and corporate records, and requested any to prove anything at all to be incorrect, with supporting information. NONE, SO FAR, HAVE PROVEN ANYTHING TO BE INCORRECT, the nearest was querying if they pay $150,000 salaries to all, which they do not. A few have stated, ‘Its all wrong’, with no supporting information, ‘its complicated and confusing’, which it is, some childish adhominem attacks, some shooting the reporting of this rubbish rather than shooting those who do this rubbish, and a some have stated, ‘They deserve all the cash they can take’, despite many thousands of awesome Burners throwing this crowd sourced party for the prior two decades.

    My apologies, burnersxxx, I should have participated in social media arguements, but, I do not desire to do so. It has been a troubled few days, after many long discussions, we came to the decision to let our friends use my tickets to the playa. Even though we will lose some friends, the post was the right thing to do, to provide reporting to the awesome Burner community who throws this party. So that they, such as the awesome artists, and others who contribute towards this party, may utilize in their negotiations with the six former BRC LLC owners who make the rules and who still control the purse.

    I am in amazement that most do not realize that Burning Man is a crowd sourced party. Yes, it is coordinated by the organization, whom have fought many good battles, but the awesome mutant vehicle owners, sound camps, esplanade camps, and other contributors, are paid nothing to provide entertainment towards the masses, they even mostly pay full ticket prices, and $40 vehicle levies for their mutant vehicles and camp trucks. Most do not realize the awesome artists are solely paid one third of their wood, space lease, and transportation costs, while gifting thousands of hours of free labour. The organization pays, by simple maths, solely $13 of each $380 ticket towards the awesome artists, even the Temple of Descendants was offered solely $1 of each $380 ticket, while the six former BRC LLC owners take $100 of each ticket towards their cash out, while remaining in control. Most do not realize that this is not fair.

    • I like Scribe’s answer towards ‘… most burners just don’t care who’s in charge or how much they make as long as the party doesn’t stop.’

      ‘For a long time, I harbored hopes that Burning Man would live up to its ethos and highest potential, instead it seems intent on just being a great party dressed up in high-minded rhetoric, with top-down control and bottom-up creation of its assets. I understand why that appeals to Larry and Marian, but I still don’t understand why everyone else so willingly pours so much time and money into something that offers them so little accountability and equity — except for the simple fact that it’s a great party that they don’t want to end.’

      But, the party has ended for most in the Burner community, in due of Larry selling tickets to 40 per cent newbies, many more rules, and unruly police agencies, solely one of eight in 2013 were on the playa more than four prior times.

    • I think the fact that the only criticism your post has drawn has been from trolls with ad hominem attacks, rather than informed people with facts and figures, indicates you are right with your analysis.
      The 40% newbies – which, as you’ve pointed out, is more like 70% – have seen Burning Man on YouTube and Bloomberg, read about it in Rolling Stone and Town and Country, or heard about it on Facebook. They don’t need to make an art car or theme camp, that’s all been done for them, on someone else’s dime. “It’s $400, and everything’s free” – it makes the BM organizers seem like the world’s greatest artists and most generous event promoters. “Why are you being mean to them? You should be grateful. They made all those art cars! They funded all those art pieces! They booked all those DJs. They paid for all those free drinks”. Err, no. They didn’t do any of that. Thanks for your efforts helping to get the truth out. Maybe if enough Burners wake up and actually give a shit, we can still preserve and enhance this awesome culture.

      • Much obliged, burnersxxx. Thank you, and thank you for doing your site!

        The culture is awesome, so many awesome Burners contributing towards this awesome event.

        I believe this issue is far from complete, there are shoes to drop, by others, in the near future. I do not know what the shoes will be, all that can be provided to the Burner community is information for them to utilize for the benefit of the community.

        Thank you.

  11. If intentional, that was a masterfully executed exit. Stimulate interest so demand exceeds supply. Replace the hard-core devotees, aka those most likely to raise the biggest stink, with casual virgin spectators that fly away before figuring it out, much less contributing anything of value. Cash out before it starts to suck. I betcha this exit strategy was years in the making.

    Its just a big ole party & those principles are as hollow as can be. Its only a matter of time before artists & performers have to be/are paid to be out there. It was great while it lasted. Thanks for the memories.

    What’s next? I heard Juplaya’s still cool.


  12. Consider this in the context of the Temple agreement falling through based on the payment and terms (minority payment for majority rights, insurance). What if the playa artists “unionize” – ALL of them, not just the few that the BOrg Millionaires have tempted with grants – and the artists enforce a blanket agreement. Jerk around a precious few and you may find that you have awakened a sleeping tiger.

    Add to the artists in possible revolt, the expectation that 40% newbies can give the same theme camp atmosphere as in the good ‘ole days – before the $300+ ticket price sellouts, that could make this all very interesting very quickly.

    Q: What is the Burn without the playa art and the theme camps?
    A: 60,000 pissed-off people in the desert with port-a-potties buying coffee and ice!

    Greed and non-profit always were uneasy bedfellows.

    These finances break out into three possible scenarios:

    A) All is above-board, fully disclosed (including all the little side-deals that net ANY payments), showing how the BOrg Millionaires have been cashed out for their decades of effort to make this happen. The assets and liabilities of the BM Project can then be assessed by all, those in government who have to see that all is legal, but particularly those that would make donations to the non-profit. And the artists and theme camps could do their thing, without an ominous hand trying to gather up their rights and profit from their efforts, because it would be clear where all the money goes. This does not seem to be the case, since such a master accounting has not been offered, and ABalancedPerspective had to pen his blog post.

    B) All is in good faith, trying to be above-board as in (A), but those in control are just not sufficiently competent to do the work or hire the right people to make the transition clear. After months of complaints of a missing accounting of the financials, they have not been able to apply the effort that many others have to sort this all out, and gosh but the best they can do is do the filings required by law. The silly, wonderful BOrg people are just doing all they can, and it is a bunch of butt-hurt people who did not get tickets, or people jealous of anyone making more than minimum wage, that are complaining. The artists and theme camps should do their thing, and trust the BOrg to do the right thing with the rights and profit from their efforts. Hey, it’s the greatest party in the world!

    C) They don’t want to do (A) because it might be a bit too clear to the government bean counters. But more important, it might make them look like they have come up with all sorts of corporate legal gimmicks to milk not only the BM annual ticket revenues, but also lay claim to future donations to the non-profit. (Is there REALLY any excuse to have a for-profit LLC collect and decide disbursement of the ticket revenues? Is there REALLY any need to have Decommodification LLC to commodify the Burn IP rights? And what’s with all the perpetual rights claims on the work of the artists, when the BOrg is paying less than half but almost always nothing?) And what nefarious plans do they have to gather up the artists’ rights, and profit from the future theme camp efforts. This might impress the Enron fans, but put off those who have a higher standard of ethics. So, they are feigning (B) to get the benefit of obfuscation, playing on the good faith of others, and the perception mileage of “turning over” the Burn to a non-profit. All the while letting their loyal followers and wannabees run interference to promote the idea that (B) is the case, hoping that the artists won’t realize what they are literally giving way – well, paying to give away – and the theme camps will be happy with twice the load to serve the free lunch demanded by the newbie spectators.

    What scenario do you think applies? Would be wonderful if it was (A), wouldn’t it?! And it would be so simple to make (A) come true, if that actually were the goal.

    And so it goes.

    • “greed and non profit always were uneasy bedfellows”…yes, that’s why now it’s not just a rave in the desert, it’s “saving the world”

      Once again, you’ve nailed it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH (A)? Hell, if the founders were making $300 million, Burners.Me wouldn’t care. They deserve to profit from taking this thing over in 1997 and organizing it as it’s grown into the money-hemorrhaging mainstream all-ages EDM festival that it’s become. Just like the community who has created the event they make money from (through our own blood, sweat, tears, and financial investment), deserves to have a say in its future – and open, honest communications from the custodians of our non-profit dollars.

      If they’re a non-profit, and they’re exploiting the artists to maximize their funds to give away to their good cause, hey, maybe even this could be justified. The ends justify the means, “we rob the rich to finance the poor”. But what’s the good cause? Panel discussions? Certain artists who are their mates? “Oh but Black Rock Solar and Black Rock Arts Foundation do good things in communities away from Burning Man”…so? What does that have to do with the Burning Man project? That’s just additional donations raised from Burners, outside the $30 million cash cow.

      A spade is a spade. The kettle is black, whatever color the pot might be…

  13. I just went through to the after burn reports and created a google spreadsheet listing out the per year spending on salaries, outside contractors, art, and man construction – and suddenly see that all the claims made above check out .

      • No surprise to me, but appreciated nonetheless. At least, some members of the community are prepared to think for themselves, rather than blindly accept the online whispers of BMOrg and their volunteer cyber-army. The shills have compared Burners.Me to Infowars, it’s true, we encourage our readers to do their own research and background checking – instead of automatically believing soundbites from people in positions of perceived authority. Clicking the links we provide in our articles to official BMOrg documents and public statements is a great start.

    • Woody,

      The donation of their BRC LLC to the Burning Man Project did cost them future cash. But, they would have had to pay tax levies on their $4 million dollar salaries at a high per cent, but, in due of their donation, they obtain a huge tax levy deduction, the cash they gave up is much less than they desire people to believe, and the cash was very far into the future when this brilliant cash out plan was penned. I am not able to do these maths. The details are in the post above.

  14. Burning Man, local state or federal government, the multinational corporations that your retirement portfolio is tied up in , take your pick. No one is transparent about money and power unless someone else is doing the hard work of holding them accountable. From the beginning Burners ran on the old hippie liberal mythology that as long as everyone was down with the Ten Principals they could all be trusted. This is the same reason that it is so easy for a corrupt but charismatic bible thumping pastor to clean out the collection plate.

    • Give me back my innocence
      Get me a new Cadillac
      ‘Cause when I get on up to Heaven Lord
      You can have it all back

      ‘Cause in Heaven, you get it all back
      In Heaven it all comes back

      (Laurie Anderson – The Day The Devil)

  15. I agree with Alex Txe. If you create something that benefits thousands of people you should benefit from it. I make money off burning man every year because I provide a service people want/need. Fuckyou and your entitlement.

    • what sort of service do you provide that people want/need, ticktocked? Do you have to seek permission from the BMOrg? Do you pay them 3%?

      No-one in this blog has ever said the founders don’t deserve to profit from Burning Man. So what are we questioning?

      – it’s a non-profit
      – their finances are open and transparent because of the Afterburn reports
      – corporate governance: the non-profit includes directors who are also owners of the for-profit businesses it pays millions to
      – that attending Burning Man is somehow helping the world

      Why are we entitled to ask that?

      – the founders have told us all the above is true
      – the founders have been either accidentally misleading, deliberately deceptive, inaccurate, and/or incredibly mistaken in the past
      – the party is crowd-sourced, participants are expected to create it at their own expense; the founders pay for almost nothing but happily take all the credit for creating it
      – art grants are not even 3% of the gate take
      – having been to Burning Man multiple times, and having been told we can’t be spectators, we feel somewhat invested in the culture
      – in the early days of Burning Man, participants were told “it’s you that makes the party”. There was a feeling of camaraderie, that we were all making something together, trying to survive in the harsh wilderness. There was a feeling that it wasn’t about money or profits
      – the founders want to spread “Burner culture” through the world. This is from the “10 Principles” which have now become cult lore. However many of their actions appear to be in contradiction to the principles, such as selling merchandise, getting paid for magazine photo shoots, courting celebrities, promoting it massively in the press, leaving permanent environmental damage.

      Do Burners own the culture of the event that they created? Increasingly, the answer from BMOrg and their minions is “fuck you, no. We own it, and only we may monetize it”. Or, “fuck off, only newbies are welcome now. Old timers just complain about how good things used to be”. Certainly the answer for some time now has been “no you don’t, only we may own it, only we may make money from it, you can’t even use the words Burning Man or YouTube videos of your art car at the event for your fundraising”

      Don’t you think that’s a bit extreme, when they’re making 100 year plans for the future of our culture? Couldn’t there be a middle ground, where the citizens of Black Rock City, and their financial and personal contributions, were recognized to have some value by the owners of Black Rock City? Why would the party be destroyed, if citizens of the city had a voice in its governance? Don’t we all live in democracies, with oversight and transparency? What is so special about Black Rock City that American values like liberty and democracy should be suspended there? Isn’t this an event born of anarchy, with an anti-establishment, rebellious streak?

      • BM has never been a non-profit…until this year. The founders are turning over their ownership to the non-profit. Decomodification is NOT about money. It is about having a space to escape from commerce (when people stop consuming they begin to create). That place is the Playa.

      • Pooh Bear, are you talking about Decommodification (one of the Ten Sacred Principles), or Decommodification (the LLC that gets all the royalty money)?

      • OG Burners: allow me to introduce the concept of duplicity.

        Virgins: dont be a sucker, follow the example BMORG is setting. The principles are bullshit – dont drink the koolaid, and invest the minimum while taking the maximum.

  16. A few have stated that this is all wrong, without providing support for their statements. I supported my maths upon links to the BMOrg numbers, their statements, and their corporate records. The support for $4 million of prior payroll towards the board, and the $12 million to $20 million estimate towards their trademarks, is detailed in the post and in a comment below. The payment to be made towards their pockets for the trademarks should soon be released by their 501(c)3 Burning Man Project in due of their being the recipient of donations.

    I would be very much obliged if any may provide intelligent disagreement, supported in the same manner.

  17. Perchance I doth think this is perchance the thusly-most-poorly-written article I’ve ever read.

  18. The issue of “outrageous salaries” surfaced on in 2005 — and was fully explained … This author completely misunderstands the details of who does what for BM and under what arrangements, and the legal differences between who can be payroll employees and who are “Temporary events contract labourers.” It turns out that salary numbers cover much more than he guesses — and put much less into the pockets of the LLC owners.

    I don’t want to sound like the Old Guy yelling, Get Off My Lawn, but … Do the homework and look at the history. This is old news, and this guy got it all wrong.

    • So, you’ve done the homework and looked at the history – that’s great, me too. Can you share some of it with the rest of us? Or is it “secret history for insiders only”?

      How come salaries went from $2.8 million in 2009, to $7.3 million in 2010? In the same period contractors went from $1.4 million to $1.7 million. The event was pretty much the same size as it had been since 2006.

    • 2005 Tribe discussions were upon solely $1,759,934 of payroll. Payroll increased from $2,858,000 in 2009 to $7,283,000 in 2010, $4,425,000 of increase. Please detail how the payroll increase occurred, with solely thirty move to the Market Street HQ as of Jan 28, 2011. The employees pocketed $240,000 apiece? Or, did the board pocket the cash?

      The three ledger lines copied from 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011 afterburn reports.

      2005 Cash Expenditures
      Payroll (office: administration, board) 1,759,934
      Outside Services (legal, consultants, accounting) 69,458
      Outside Services: Independent contractors (DPW crew, information technology, ranger management, commissary and administrative support) 511,049

      2009 Cash Expenditures
      Payroll 2,858,000
      Outside services (legal, consultants, accounting) 1,274000
      Outside services: Independent contractors 161,000

      2010 Cash Expenditures
      Payroll 7,283,000
      Outside Services (legal, consultants, accounting) 1,468,000
      Outside Services: Independent contractors 231,783

      2011 Cash Expenditures
      Payroll $7,103000
      Outside services (legal, consultants, accounting) $1,601,000
      Outside services: Independent contractors $973,000

  19. Whatever… they deserve LOTS of money for creating such an awesome event and inspiring MANY to follow through and create events and projects of our own… and I am much successful on my own!!

  20. The 40% newbies comment has me feeling the author did not get his ticket this year and has a sore butt..
    I can do the math, I’m not sure that I ever understood BM to be a not for profit venture. If not for the profit where would it be now?

  21. Yes, it is poorly written, the intentions are not for it to be a quick read, most especially on phones. It is documented, with the documentation behind the links, click on the links.

    Click on the afterburn reports payroll links for salary payroll numbers. Over $4 million each year of payroll was not accounted by employees, multiplied by four years of 2010 – 2013, is over $16 million of salary remaining for the six BRC LLC former owners to pocket.

    The Burning Man(TM) trademarks, owned by their Decommodification LLC, are to be bought by the Project at 2016 end, add $4 million, at minimum, for each of 2014 and 2015 and 2016, thusly, the minimum pocketing of $28 million. Add the other numbers to get to $45 million. Click on the links.

  22. It’s not that hard to understand. Yes, the writer has broken English obviously. But don’t be a douche and act like you can’t get the point.

  23. Sorry, but this is so poorly written as to cause me to question the whole thing. Clearly show the evidence and do the math. The burden of proof is on you; make it clear, concise, and documented.

    • Mercedes,

      Much obliged for your comments. The math/analysis of the afterburn report has nothing at all to do with insurance bonds or insurance of any manner. Insurance, or insurance bonds, are not relevant, the math/analysis is upon payroll and salaries.

      I make no assumptions towards the intake of the event, other than reported ticket sale cash and a million dollars or two million dollars of extra levies.

      I assumed very little profit of the event prior to 2013, prior to the doubling of revenues to $23 million or $25 million. If you desire to discuss, as you term, past debt and loans, are you referring towards the past profits of the event and cash on the ledger? They did not report cash upon the ledger after 2006, when they finally began to have cash upon the ledger after the event. Any cash profits of the event, and prior cash profits of the event, were most likely taken by the apparent $4 million of salary of 2010, 2011, and 2012 for the board to pocket, as apparent by the payroll numbers of the afterburn reports, minus the salary of employees. They might have deferred their salaries to 2013, if it was possible for them to do so, whether they term it a debt or a loan, towards the possible purpose of them pocketing the cash free of tax levies, in due of their donation of their BRC LLC to the 501(c)3 non profit Burning Man Project at 2013 end. Is deferring of salaries to 2013 what you term a debt or a loan?
      In regards towards the possible $5 million of extra cash that may have been upon the ledger, that they may have pocketed prior to donating their BRC LLC to the 501(c)3 Burning Man Project at 2013 end, I included $0 dollars of this cash within the $28 million number. I solely included $5 million of cash within the $45 million top number.

      I, also, was a true believer, I do not desire to emotionally believe these numbers, especially, in comparison towards the art honorarium numbers, I very much desire to be proven incorrect. But, this is the best summary and numbers of their cash out, supported by their numbers, statements, and corporate records, unless any can prove otherwise, with strong support. We should soon gain the knowledge of the cash to be paid for their Burning Man(TM) trademarks, which I believe a tad over three times their apparent prior salary, thusly $12 million to $20 million.

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