2016 Financial Analysis

It’s that time of year again.

Burning Man 2016 Annual Report

Burning Man 2016 IRS Form 990

Burners.Me Previous Financial Coverage: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Some highlights:

  • revenues up to almost $46.2 million, up from $36.9 million in 2015.
  • Revenue less Expenses= $9,242,666
  • Donations received over $8 million (including Fly Ranch mega-donors).
  • salaries up $2 million
  • Cash and receivables: $9.5 million
  • Total assets: $24.4 million
  • Ticketing $873,795


Screenshot 2018-01-18 16.35.21

Even though it is more than a year and a quarter since Burning Man 2016, they still aren’t able to share with us the actual data in their annual report. A lot of it they just took from 2015.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 15.09.09

I can’t make the fancy graphics like them, but I can look on their form and see what “Grants Provided” and “Donations Received” were for 2016, the year this report is supposed to be about.

Grants Provided 2016: $1,518,490
Donations Received 2016:  $8,074,456

Note that for the last couple of years at least, “grants” has included all the cost of the Man, base, and the various structures that now surround the Man base. Donations went up nearly $7 million, total revenue went up about $10 million, while grants went up less than a hundred grand.

The image above makes it look like 5% of the budget goes to Burners Without Borders, and Fly Ranch takes up about 10% of their year-round time and money. Neither of these figures matches the actual numbers.

We commented last year that it seemed a little pathetic that Burners Without Borders, an organization that once held so much promise, donated a mere $4000 across 8 projects. They’ve managed to cut those outrageous costs, donating now $3415, or less than 1/13,000th of Burning Man’s revenue.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 16.40.40

We’re making the world a better place, with $3,415. They spend way more on their European Leadership Conference. I mean, shouldn’t things like that be self-funding, if not actually raising funds?

The only founders still working full time are Marian Goodell (50 hours) and Larry Harvey (40 hours). Harley Dubois must knock off work early, or maybe she takes a longer lunch break – she only puts in 36 hours per week.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 17.46.39

The guy actually running Burning Man, Charlie Dolman, only gets paid slightly more than the many and varied PR and IT staff.

Kudos to the board members who give their time to Burning Man for free.

Legal costs remain astronomical, more than half a million dollars a year. And that’s after Board member Terry Gross gave a generous (for a lawyer) 20% discount on his firm’s fees – although he clawed some of that back with $20k+ in personal payments.

The Artumnal fundraiser appears to have made a loss. They paid $31,904 rent for the use of The Regency Ballroom for an evening.

Burner money paid for a lot of international junkets speaking engagements, including Marian Goodell sharing the stage with the Vatican…which kind of makes sense given the sort of thing we’ve seen from this Satan-praising Pope

Screenshot 2018-01-07 15.49.05

popes throne


popes audience hall snake


This guy is in charge of culture for the Vatican.

Paul Tighe (born 12 February 1958) is an Irish prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture since his appointment on 28 October 2017. He is the highest-ranking Irishman in the Roman Curia


In her talk, Maid Marian says “cellphones don’t work” and “the Internet is left behind”. Isn’t it a cardinal sin to lie in front of a bishop?

They still seem to have no idea what they are going to do with FlySalen. It’s coming up on 2 years now since they bought it. Is there some secret stuff going on out there, which isn’t being shared with the Burner community? Radical Rituals of some sort?

pterodactyl model 1984 (Large)

The biggest individual contributions to Fly Ranch were: $1,750,000 , $1,500,000, $999,965, $500,000. Some big backers there – can we match the name with the money? Elon? Sergey? Guy from Cirque do Soleil? Geomagician Ping Fu got a board seat, so presumably she wrote a pretty big check. Which one of these high rolling Billionaire Burners stiffed them on the $35 wire transfer fee?

They received $171,000 in land and $489,915 in marketable securities – that “donate us your stock options program” looks to have been a lucrative move.

One name that stood out to me on the Donors list was Amanda Sackler. You may have read about her family in Esquire Secretive Family Making Billions From The Opioid Crisis , the New Yorker Family That Built an Empire of Pain or my favorite from Dr Mercola Meet The Sacklers – The Family That’s Killing Millions (Maybe More Than Stalin)

…more than 200,000 killed so far this century, but hey, at least we got a donation.

Congratulations to Marian and team for delivering an excellent financial result. Costs trimmed, sales up. A well oiled and greased machine. How much trickled out into grants, which of course mostly went to the same old same old (shout out to newcomer Plug-n-Play LLC?)

“In 2016, $78,250 was awarded to 17 global projects.”

Screenshot 2018-01-18 17.01.00

Screenshot 2018-01-18 16.37.51



16 comments on “2016 Financial Analysis

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  6. burnersxxx, and others, I do not know of the answer of this query, but, might the information upon the second cashout of Larry, Marian, and their four mates, by their prior statements, near to the end of 2018 be available in near to two weeks?

    Near to the end of January, my belief it was of 2014, but, I am not certain, the Reno Gazette Journal queried the org in regards to the financials of their donation of the BRC LLC to the Burning Man Project, and Megan Miller replied to their query of that the BMP was within an outside audit, at that time, and of the audit was for the prior two years in due of the outside audit was not required within each year, thusly, she was not of the ability to answer their query. The audit was completed, and the BMOrg signed the audit, near to the end of the first week of February, but the Reno Gazette Journal did not follow up upon their query as to gain an answer.

    The picture of the BMP annual report, above, within this post states, ‘Please Note: The data included here in our 2016 Annual Report is our most recent fully audited data, which is from 2015. We encourage readers to return to our website in the fall, when we will publish financial information for the 2016 fiscal year.’ In due of the outside audit occurs each two years near to the end of January, might the BMP be within an outside audit of 2016, and of 2017, at the present time, and might the audit be signed by the BMP in near to two weeks of time?

    The bylaws of the Burning Man Project state of any person is of the ability to visit the Burning Man headquarters, within the usual business hours, purposed to view, and copy, the minutes of the BMP board, and of the minutes are required to include of many items in addendum of discussion, and votes, of the BMP board. A prior commenter, prior of his assimilation of the Official Unofficial Burning Man Group for the Borg, stated of the BMP ledger was of the ability to be viewed at the Burning Man headquarters. I do not know of if might this be true, or might the audited ledger be an item included within the BMP board minutes. Might the estimated payout towards the Decommodification LLC of Larry, Marian, and their four mates, for the trademark of the Burning Man name, other trademarks, and other IP of the history of Burning Man, be included in the manner of a long term liability stated upon the BMP ledger balance sheet, in due of the BMP must obey proper US accounting standards?

    I do not know of the answer of these queries, but, might Jessica R., and the DPW workers desiring to gain fair treatment from the BMP, 48hills.org, or any reporter, or any Burner, desire to gain this information purposed to pen this story for the Burning Man community? Guest posts are most welcome on burners.me.

  7. Newer Burners might be curious in regards to the rationale of why they have not learned of the little cash directed towards the costs of the playa artists or towards most DPW workers building Black Rock City, or of the zero cash directed towards the EDM sound camps entertaining them, from the near to fifty million dollars of ticket sales and revenue, while the six people in charge of Burning Man, from their own numbers and statements, are taking many millions in cash towards their pockets from their tickets sales.

    It is in due of the Burning Man Organization, the Borg, assimilating near to all Facebook groups and other social media in due of their representatives, within contract and NDA to the Borg, being administrators of the Facebook groups and other social media. The Borg administrators do not permit any posts linking to burners.me articles, and they remove any posts of which the Borg desires to be removed. Might a Burner persist in regards of posts that disagree with the Borg, the Burner is deleted from the Facebook group, it is most easy peasy to do. The Borg has their passive aggressive social media policy, of which, the most important rule is in regards of discussion that is in disagreement with the Borg is not permitted. Larry terms any discussion that is in disagreement with him as politics, of which, it is not permitted, and all camps must obey the rules, including of the social media policy, purposed to be in good standing with the Borg, of which, it is required, might they desire to gain placement, and might they desire to gain directed tickets to the next burn. In addendum, all volunteers must obey the rules to be permitted to volunteer for the next burn, thusly they are not permitted to disagree with the Borg, or lobby, within an organized manner, for change. In addendum, the Reno Gazette Journal, and other news organizations, do not permit their reporters to report upon this rubbish, they desire to be in good standing with the Borg, purposed towards gaining click bait pictures of the art and costumed women.

    The Borg priorly stated of ‘If you do not like what we are doing, start your own festival’, until Further Future, Symbiosis, Eclipse Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, and other burnerly festivals, not within control of the Borg, started. At present, it is of if you do not like it, leave. The Burning Man Project bylaws give all power and control to the six founders of the Burning Man Project, and zero power to the awesome Burners, the artists, the DPW workers, the numerous volunteers, the theme camps providing entertainment towards the ticket buyers, and the awesome Burner community whom have thrown this party for decades. My belief is of this is horribly wrong, and of the Burner community must have a strong, and powerful, and official, say in the issues and direction of Burning Man.

  8. Hi burnerxxx. I hope all is well. My apologies again for being of the need to halt commenting before. Your History of Burning Man posts and podcasts, Terry Gotham’s posts, and other posts have been very interesting. Kudos for doing the posts and podcasts, keeping the blog alive, and for everything else you do.

    Within the 2015 expenses, and 2016 expenses, but not within the 2014 expenses, there are near to identical ‘Other’ expenses of four million dollars. Is there any statement, or footnote, in explanation of these four million dollars of expenses within each of those two years? Might it be payments to escrow for future liabilities, or similar?

    My heart goes to the artists, in due of Burners art spaces having difficulties and closing in due of gentrification. It is most appalling the Borg gave solely $349,830 for art grants to the artists for Black Rock City art, including of the Temple, while their Kool Aid, and Burning Blog posts, was of they gave $1.2 million or $1.5 million to the artists. Burning Man claims to be an Arts Festival, but most ticket buyers are not of the realization of that Burning Man pays jack shit towards the costs of the artists, the $349,830 is solely $5 of each ticket, artist groups must raise, or pay, near to all of the costs of the Playa art themselves.

    Also, burnersxxx, might you have viewed the Reno Gazette Journal article on the Borg paying jack shit towards all the DPW workers building Black Rock City and doing playa restoration, and talk of collective bargaining, and of a National Labor Relations Board agreement signed in December?

    I liked your prior comment in regards to another festival, ‘Is this another example of the ticket sellers keeping the cash while the content creators run on love?’ That is a most excellent summary of the situation.

    • ABP! Great to hear from you, I hope you are doing well.

      It is absolutely appalling that an “arts festival” can raise $46 million from Burners tax free and spend only $5 of a $1200 ticket on art.

      They should be ashamed of themselves. Their success has been built on the toil and vision of others.

      I did indeed see the RGJ coverage of the DPW employee compensation lawsuit situation. Life is in the way of me dedicating much time to this site at the moment, but I would definitely like to cover that if I have a chance. They settled , but did anything really change? Both workers and customers are treated with contempt by the year round self congratulators.

      RIP Carrie Galbraith.

    • Yes, thank you burnersxxx. In regards of the ticket sellers keeping the cash:

      1) I priorly estimated Larry, Marian, and their four mates took four million dollars towards their pockets in 2010, and similar numbers for 2011, 2012, and 2013, prior of their donation of the Black Rock City LLC, dba Burning Man, to the Burning Man Project at the end of 2013. This is based upon their numbers within their afterburn reports of payroll jumping from $2.8 million dollars in 2009 to $7.2 million dollars in 2010, with solely thirty employees on their payroll to move to their Market Street headquarters in 2011 January. With an average salary of lower than $100,000, this is of the meaning of the six owners of the BRC LLC took the other four million dollars towards their pockets in 2010. Kudos to Woody for doing a good spreadsheet upon this matter.

      The six of them took all net cash from the BRC LLC prior of them donating the BRC LLC to the Burning Man Project on 31 December 2013. The Burning Man Project 990 form of 2014 stated there was zero net cash upon the BMP ledger at the beginning of 2014, and the BRC LLC had solely $3.4 million of real net assets upon the ledger of when it was donated to the BMP, after many years of the Burning Man festival.

      2) The six of them, at present, are paid reasonable salaries of near to $1 million dollars, in total, within each year. But, they desire to hide from donors of art, labour, cash, stock, and of entertainment towards their ticket buyers, the details of their big cashout near to the end of 2018, or of the beginning of 2019, of selling their Burning Man trademark, other trademarks, and other IP of the history of Burning Man to the BMP. In the big meeting in San Francisco on 1 April 2011, of the plan to convert Burning Man to a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, Larry stated:
      In May, he said the LLC will file papers to create the nonprofit, which will initially be run by the current board members and at least seven more directors selected by that board. In about three years, depending on how the new nonprofit forms up, the LLC will turn over management of Burning Man, while holding onto control of the logos and trademarks for another three years after that, Harvey said. And that’s when the six board members will officially cash out.

      • I suspect the “6 founders” aren’t each getting the same share of the loot. There is certainly a truckload of money coming in. There are also a lot more people getting paid something – almost 1000. Perhaps a convenient smokescreen around the scenario you have outlined.

    • Apologies, the cash grants for art on the playa was raised to near $1.2 million dollars for 2016, including of $133,000 for the Temple. It includes the cash grants for the Leonardo workshops near to the base of the man, and, by appearance, it does not include of the man in 2016. I do not know of if the cash grants include of the Turning Man base. By appearances, it is a big increase in cash grants from prior burns, and the amount in each grant raised by a significant amount. Kudos to the org for raising the amount of cash in the art grants, and kudos to the Burner and artist community for pressuring the org to raise the art grants. But, this is solely $16 of each ticket, and artist groups must pay, or raise cash, for most of the costs of their art.

      • By appearances, the org doubled the cash grants to the BRC playa artists from 2014, to 2016. It is a start, but it is solely two to three per cent of revenues. Apologies for the mistake in my comment and of the need to pen a correction in these numbers, accuracy is the goal.

        • The Man and Man Base are much more complex and intricate in the past. This is now included in the overall art grants total, as is the Temple.

          How much went to Honoraria Art Installations? This is not obvious, they try pretty hard to obscure it.

        • I am in agreement, it is most confusing. There was a Burning Man Journal post in 2016 March that stated they were to spend $1.2 million dollars on the art in 2016, i am of the belief it included, in the manner stated within Art Budget Shenanigans:

          From a $1.2 million Black Rock City art budget, in 2016 they are paying for:

          60 Honoraria art projects. Partial grants, artists have to raise most of the project costs themselves
          33 Guild Workshops. Regional projects. Projects required to raise almost all the funding and supply personnel themselves.
          The Man
          The Piazza
          The “Turning Man” contraption
          The Temple. Partial grant, artists who “win” the project have to raise most of the funding themselves
          4 Belltowers
          A blacksmith shop
          Possible other sculptures

          Viewing the list of LLC grants of near to $750,000, it includes of the partial Temple grant, the blacksmith shop, and other Leonardo workshops, but I do not find the Turning Man or the belltowers within the grants. The near to $350,000 of individual grants is most obscure. Perchance, the BMorg gained donations, from others, to raise the amount of the grants, or, they were embarrassed in due of attempting to claim the Turning Man and the belltowers within the art budget and raised the amount of the grants themselves. Artist revolts might cause that to occur. My heart goes to the artists of The Gate 510, where the Turning Man was built, and American Steel art space within Oakland, both were closed in due of the Ghost Ship fire and gentrification. By appearances in due of the list of grants, they did raise the amount of the playa art grants near to sixty per cent from 2014, to 2016, but artist groups must raise, or pay, most of the costs of the art themselves.

          In addendum, John Law penned an awesome tribute to Carrie Galbraith

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