Who Bought J.R.’s Condo? “Dallas” Star Home Goes to Scientology Real-Estate Arm



April 5, 2013; Source: Ventura County Star

Some nonprofits have the resources to do some big real-estate deals. In Ojai, California, the nine-bedroom, five-fireplace, three-swimming-pool, 23,000-square-foot home of the late Larry Hagman, who starred as “J.R. Ewing” in Dallas, has been sold for $5 million to the nonprofit Social Betterment Properties International, though it had originally been listed for $6,495,000. The nonprofit paid cash.

How does a nonprofit that hasn’t filed a Form 990 since 2007, a year when it reported no contributions, gifts, and grants and only $59,403 in 2006, fork over $5 million in cash for a Ventura County mansion that Hagman called “Heaven” – and for what purposes? We don’t quite know, except that the organization might now be a church rather than a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. SBPI was created as a real-estate acquisition, development, and management arm of the church of Scientology, the religion founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. SBPI’s 2003 990 states the tax-exempt purpose of the organization as to “acquire, develop, and maintain buildings and other real estate utilized by social betterment organizations carrying out programs that utilize technology and methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard and that are associated with and supported by the Scientology religion.” While churches are not prohibited from filing 990s, they are not required to do so. Wholly owned by the church of Scientology, SBPI appears to have opted out of the 990 filing process, denying the public access to this entity’s real-estate activities.

Although the organization showed six- and seven-figure operating deficits in 2006 and 2007, because of its ownership of substantial real estate, as of 2007, SBPI had a fund balance of $41,243,376. As part of the Scientology Church’s empire, SBPI probably had access to substantial liquid assets to make this quick purchase regardless of what was presented in its now extremely dated Form 990s. Among SBPI’s real-estate holdings are facilities used as detox centers, which some in the press have described simply as places for drug detox and counseling, though – as with Narconon in Oklahoma – the detoxification that Scientology talks about is a process using Hubbard’s technology to rid people not only of drug usage, but many other kinds of behaviors that don’t fit the Scientology worldview and merit detoxification.

Given the extensive real-estate holdings of Scientology around the world, SBPI is probably not the only entity holding and managing Scientology properties. This isn’t an issue specific to Scientology, but there seems to be an important rationale for public disclosure of the resources and assets of religious institutions that are eligible for charitable contributions just like 501(c)(3) public charities. Since 2007, all we know is that SPBI’s portfolio has increased by the 32-acre home of the J.R. Ewing. We should know more. –Rick Cohen

  • Rick Mycroft

    SBPI handles Scientology’s “secular” properties. The “religious” end of it is done by Building Management Services, which owns all the church buildings. (Even the ones that the locals provided the money to buy.)

  • me

    Different degrees of privacy in both the entities?

  • catrists

    Great article, more journalists should question where all the money comes from that’s currently building David Miscavige’s real-estate empire and also why, there’s only 40,000 or less Scientologists in the entire world. Scientology is like the G Gordon Liddy of religions, it seems to produce a love or addiction to dishonesty and deviousness, at least in the top brass and the Scientology Office of Special Affairs employees who are probably monitoring this article.

    Scientology also has the money to spend on buildings like since it does not spend one dollar on anything charitable.

  • Jeffrey Augustine

    The Scientology Money Project has downloadable 990-T’s showing the three main “Church of Scientology” entities with a 2012 Book Value of $1.5 billion dollars: http://scientologymoneyproject.com/

    SPBI likely had cash transferred into it from one of the cash-stuff Scientology entities or trusts. Here are the central Scientology corporations:

    1. Church of Scientology International 990-T 2012 Book Value: $846,314,618: http://www.scribd.com/doc/219271300/CSI-2012-Book-Value-846-314-618

    2. Church of Spiritual Technology 990-T 2012 Book Value $447,192,921: http://www.scribd.com/doc/219272739/CST-2012-Book-Value-447-192-921

    3. Flag Service Organization 990-T 2012 Book Value $290,655,686