Werner Erhard sold out


November 25, 2002
By Rick Ross

After damaging allegations made by his own family and employees became public, est founder Werner Erhard (a.k.a. Jack Rosenberg) decided to sell off his large group awareness training kingdom.

The seminar guru, whose style of mass marathon training was often the butt of jokes and closely tied to the narcissism of the 1970s "Me Decade," announced during February of 1991 that he was calling it quits. The story was that he sold off his company "Werner Erhard and Associates" to a group of employees.

Specific details of the transaction were sketchy.

Erhard's designated spokesman at the time Bill Barnes said the sale included real estate in both California and New York and miscellaneous office equipment.

But most important was the 18-year licensing agreement, which was set to expire before the millennium. That agreement provided Erhard with very large payments annually for the privilege of using his so-called "technology" or "intellectual property." That meant the format for his weekend workshops called "The Forum."

Barnes claimed Erhard "would have neither an ownership nor a management role in the new company."

The spokesman also insisted that this deal was in the works before Erhard and his business was rocked by a wave of negative media reports. But it appeared that the bad press helped to speed up the process.

Erhard has a sordid history of bad press, complaints and litigation filed by both Forum participants and unhappy employees.

Est, now known by the name "Landmark Education," largely carried on that legacy.

The year before the sale the San Francisco Chronicle reported allegations from former employees who said they were forced to obey Erhard like he was "God" and there were "numerous instances of verbally and physically abusive behavior."

But despite all this Werner Erhard would eventually end up in Georgetown within the Cayman Islands with his long time girlfriend Hanukah.

Now a reclusive senior citizen, the supposedly retired guru lives comfortably off of the millions he made through his lucrative seminars.

Once Erhard heard the ecstatic almost religious refrain from his Forum devotees exclaiming how they "got it," at the conclusion of est seminars.

However, it looks like old Werner really "got it" and kept it, in the end.

Note: This article was largely based upon "Self-help guru Werner Erhard selling empire San Francisco Chronicle/February 17, 1991


Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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