Hey, IRS: Stunning photos inside the lavish personal offices of Scientology's leader - 2014-05-29
In 1978, the Church of Scientology paid $2.7 million to acquire a fading resort in the California desert known as Gilman Hot Springs. The 550-acre parcel included a relatively modest house named "Bonnie View" that founder L. Ron Hubbard intended to live in, once it was renovated. But he never got the chance. By the end of February 1980 Hubbard went into permanent hiding elsewhere until his death in 1986.
In Hubbard's absence, the parcel at Gilman Hot Springs became Scientology's secretive "Gold Base," also called "Int Base" because it was the location of Scientology's international 'exec strata' — the top officials of the worldwide organization. And over the past couple of decades, the man who succeeded Hubbard as the church's leader, David Miscavige, has renovated and rebuilt the place primarily as a lavish monument to himself.
Scientology doesn't give tours of Int Base, and aerial shots don't give us access inside its buildings. But accounts by former church executives have given some idea that Miscavige has spent incredible sums to create a palace for himself, particularly an oversized office building for the use of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), the entity that nominally rules Scientology. Miscavige is the RTC's chairman of the board, which is why Scientologists routinely refer to him as "COB" for short. And we say "nominally," because former officials will tell you that RTC is only one of several corporate fictions that make up Scientology's structure. It's really the "Sea Organization" — with Captain David Miscavige at its top — that rules Scientology. And RTC contains the Sea Org's most trusted inner circle. Scientology is an organization obsessed with hierarchy, and no group is more lofty than the tiny circle of Sea Org members who work with Miscavige in the RTC and at its headquarters at Int Base.