<< ARI Watch
Response to Minns Revelations
After publishing “Who Is Richard Minns?” I emailed a few people about it and mentioned it on several Objectivist discussion groups.
An email correspondent, who normally has no trouble expressing himself, replied:
Jesus [expletive] Christ, this is unbelievable. I mean it’s totally believable, but wow. Wow. I don’t know what to say. I’m just flabbergasted.
Indeed, there is really nothing one can say to express how sick it all is.
I mentioned the article on the discussion group “Objectivist Living.” The following snippets are selected from the ensuing discussion. Typos are silently corrected, abbreviations silently expanded, some short paragraphs have been combined into one, and I have revised and added material to some of my own posts, selected text from the posts of other people is abridged as indicated.
I’m about two-thirds through reading the article. Awful guy. Heroic woman, remarkable courage and dedication to accomplish what she’s achieved despite having been rendered paraplegic.
Respondent A had not yet gotten to the section “The Perp Today.” After finishing the article:
Puke, puke, puke. What is that man doing being extolled by Objectivists? Kind of a rhetorical question with the lows to which things have sunk in O-land.
The murder-for-hire makes Minns despicable. That he associates himself with Rand’s work adds a grotesque twist to the story. Then the so-called Ayn Rand Institute promotes the miscreant?
While this discussion at OL was going on ARI published an essay by Benjamin Bayer called “Why Be Honest?” and Andrew Bernstein was finishing his book Heroes, Legends, Champions: Why Heroism Matters.” Who are these people to lecture us on honesty and heroes?
Dick Minns was the talk of Texas for several years after 1980. The corruption of the Houston Police Department was a common topic of conversation from the 1960s through the 1980s, though before reading some of the material [in “Who Is Richard Minns?”] I never realized just how corrupt some of the cops were. There is no way the ARIans wouldn’t have heard more than a little about Dick Minns. No way Jennifer Grossman wouldn’t have, either.
Respondent A asks:
Is there some independent evidence you know of that Minns actually did read The Fountainhead in 1943 when he was 14 ? Considering the “mythomania on steroids” [that] you note, I wonder if Minns tweaked his story in imitation of Nathaniel Branden’s.
There’s nothing I know of that corroborates what is said in the Hay Hill Gallery blurbs. It is possible that Minns concocted a story to help sell the statues but he might be telling the truth.
Dick Minns has made up a lot of stuff about himself over the years. This might include when he first got into Rand.
In any case the main point is that ARI goes along with Minns’ story.
Respondent C quotes from the first version of the ARI Watch article that was up at the time:
“After the publication of this article Minns’ history will become known in Objectivist circles, that is, among the rank and file; the leaders of ARI and TOS must know it already. Those leaders will need to respond.”
I suppose I am one of the “rank and file.” I did not know this story before. I cannot tell you how furious it makes me at official Objectivist institutions.
He refers to Minns as
... a mob guy (or maybe mob wannabe guy) who put out a hit on an ex girlfriend and got her shot (and not killed only because the shooter was incompetent), bribed God knows how many people for years, got plenty of forged documents, etc., and promotes himself as The Good, especially nowadays as a Randian sculptor.
He suggests that Minns is a big donor to ARI, which is doubtful, then:
For people who run non-profits, there is a procedure called due diligence. ... Besides, wealthy donors know who each other are and Minns certainly knows plenty of them just by the people who promote him. So it’s inconceivable to me that the leaders of both ARI and TAS didn’t know about this story as they promoted this thug.
I do not like to channel Ayn Rand, but I cannot see her doing anything but condemning any and all dealings with this man in the harshest terms, especially seeing his violent crime ignored (covered up) in her name and this violent criminal celebrated in her name.
Any decent person will feel indignant over the revelations in “Who is Richard Minns?” They are bizarre. Even the normally articulate Respondent A was reduced to “Puke, puke, puke.” One is speechless, at least at first, in the face of this story.
Minns’ technique is that of the Big Lie, a lie so large it is hard for the naive to understand that he could utter it self-righteously and not slip up somewhere or give some indication he doesn’t believe what he is saying. I think what helps Minns is that on some level he does believe his own big lie. He really believes he is an innocent victim. He is a psychopath aping Objectivist phrases.
I think it unlikely that Minns donates money to ARI except for possibly donating an “Atlas Shrugged” statuette to the Ayn Rand Center Israel for their Atlas Award. Or it might be the reverse and Carl Barney pays him for the statue. Barney does help finance ARCI and the Atlas Award. Yaron Brook has said that the Award is entirely financed by Americans and Minns is an Israeli. (See footnote 5c of “Who Is Richard Minns?”)
One respondent expressed his evaluation of Minns’ sculpture with a word signifying a rather negative opinion: “eesh.” Respondent A agreed with him.
That concludes what is more or less worth preserving from the OL discussion.
Then I mentioned “Who Is Richard Minns?” on SOLO (“Sense of Life Objectivists”). All the responses were positive. I won’t quote them; I like to receive complements but the reader would find them boring.
Then I managed to post a link on “Rebirth of Reason” despite the website being closed for posting most of the time due to a server software problem. Any responses will have to wait until the website is fixed.
That leaves “Objectivism Online,” the ultra-orthodox discussion group where links to ARI Watch are forbidden. Instead of starting a new thread I continued the one about Carl Barney. Mentioning ARI Watch would risk getting summarily banned so instead I mentioned other webpages about the Piotrowski Affair easily found online.
Respondent A, the moderator of OO, apparently took only a superficial look into the subject:
Is your beef with Craig Biddle, Carl Barney, Richard Minns, the justice system?
Craig Biddle wrote an article about a tribute to Carl Barney written and read to him by Richard Minns: “A Wonderful Tribute to Carl Barney” (The Objective Standard, 6 June 2019). The article featured a photo of Barney and Minns standing together, Barney’s hand on Minns’ shoulder:
Yet Minns is a despicable man. Who would want a tribute from him?
Respondent B (again, the OO thread had gone from discussing Carl Barney to Richard Minns):
I find the cases against Barney and Minns to be compelling with solid evidence. The defenders of Barney sound ridiculous. ... I don’t know of anyone defending Minns yet.
Respondent C links to an article about Minns winning a civil suit on appeal.
The crime was a cold blooded murder-for-hire and Minns got away with it. Read more about it than the link you posted.
Barbara, the victim, was not rich. I doubt she could afford to continue fighting. The criminal non-investigation, failing to keep Minns in the U.S. after catching him, and the ultimate loss in the civil courts were all a travesty of justice.
Respondent A is skeptical:
It is allegedly a cold-blooded murder-for-hire.
Richard Minns has never been charged with the attempted murder of Barbra Piotrowski.
[Reference to “Former health spa tycoon wins appeal.”]
“Dudley Bell of Houston and Robert Jess Anderson of Spring were convicted of hiring the men who shot Piotrowski and sentenced to 38 years in prison. Two California men – Nathaniel Ivery and Patrick Tony Steen – were convicted of carrying out the plot and received 35-year sentences.”
It’s true that Ivery (the trigger man) and Steen (the getaway driver) were convicted and sent to prison. As was Robert Anderson who hired them. As was Dudley Bell who hired him.
And Richard Minns hired Bell. He was the “prime mover,” the man who pulled the trigger on the process that ended with four bullets fired point-blank into Barbara’s back.
Respondent A, still skeptical:
Was Richard Minns charged with Barbra Piotrowski’s attempted murder?
He was not even questioned about it !
During the entire investigation the police left him completely alone.
Then this is not the venue for making such a case. Present your findings via the proper channels. ...
Richard Minns presents himself as an interpreter of Rand’s ideas in sculpture, and his life as that of a Randian entrepreneurial hero. In Objectivist circles he has been called an “Objectivist sculptor.” His
history should be of interest to people who want to spread Objectivism. He is a disaster from a propaganda point of view, that is, the spread of Rand’s ideas.
Ever since Rand wrote The Fountainhead
she and her defenders have had to deal with people who claim that she advocated “walking over and stomping on anybody you don’t like.” And now ARI, TOS, TAS promote someone who does just that, who claims Rand had a “profound influence” on his life, and who calls himself an “Ayn Rand archetype.”
That the Houston Police Department didn’t touch Minns speaks to the corruption in the HPD not the innocence of Minns. Even six judges on two civil courts thought the HPD was corrupt and said flat out that Minns was behind the crime. From the first court document above:
“The State’s evidence shows that, in July, 1980, appellant [Bell] asked at least two people to kill complainant [Barbara] at the behest of Minns.”
From the second:
“This is a disturbing case – both in terms of what happened to Piotrowski and how members of the Houston Police Department (“HPD”) conducted themselves before and after the shooting. Piotrowski was shot and rendered a paraplegic by a hit man procured by her ex-boyfriend, Richard Minns. The evidence connected members of the Houston police and fire departments to Minns and his hired investigator Dudley Bell in acts that harassed and threatened Piotrowski before the shooting.”
Respondent C, citing a reference, says it is no secret that Minns is guilty.
Indeed, there are hundreds of references to it online.
People at ARI and TOS promote Minns. Most everybody looks up their associates on the Internet. Some of the people at ARI and TOS must have found out Minns’ history, and the case is so horrendous they would have told the others about it.
Respondent B conjectures:
... The TAS CEO who interviewed him in London called him an ‘Objectivist sculptor’ most likely because she was trying to get more of his money. (It’s quite disgusting what some of these money-chasers will do in order to retain big donors like Barney and Minns.) I don’t see where Minns claims to be an Objectivist – though it wouldn’t surprise me. He claims to be a lot of things. ...
Respondent C in answer to Respondent A’s skepticism:
... Must we always remain skeptical of the character of a person because of unproven claims? Minns passes a threshold of bad character for me because of a number of associations and connections. Especially the hired hit men. He fled the country, he was arrested for fraud.
Respondent B conjectures:
... ARI was making moves [that is, I gather, approaching him as a potential donor] on Minns by co-hosting an event at his London gallery exhibit in 2014 and then using his sculpture as the Atlas Israeli Start-up Award starting in spring of 2016. New TAS leader, Grossman, then does what she can, visiting him in London in the fall of 2016 and then basically penning a love letter [referring to Grossman’s first article] ...
Respondent B, replying to Respondent C’s threshold remark:
He also pleaded the fifth 51 times when Piotrowski’s lawyer tried to take his deposition in 1984 while he was [briefly] serving time in Federal prison. A judge cited him for contempt, but the Feds were then allowed to deport him after he renounced his US citizenship. It seems that the criminal case against him relied upon his private eye friend [Bell] spilling the beans – and that didn’t happen. That would have required [Bell] to admit to a murder conspiracy. ...
... what is an “Objectivist movement?”
It’s pretty obvious: independent, unorganized, intellectuals promoting the best of Rand.
Rand in The Objectivist, May 1968, refers to “a philosophical or intellectual movement, in the sense of a growing trend among a number of independent individuals sharing the same ideas.” She approves of such an intellectual movement but not an organized movement (like ARI, which of course she doesn’t mention explicitly not having a crystal ball).
Rand in The Objectivist, June 1968: “I regard the spread of Objectivism through today’s culture as an intellectual movement – i.e. a trend among independent individuals who share the same ideas – but not as an organized movement.”
After more disagreement, me again:
Perhaps we can all agree on this: ARI is the sort of organization that promotes the likes of Carl Barney (predatory Church of Scientology honcho turned government cheat) and Richard Minns (self-righteous murderer, braggart, egomaniac, and textbook psychopath).
When we ask “what is an Objectivist movement?” we are not only trying to identify a particular type of movement, we are simultaneously trying to differentiate it from that which it is not. And since an intellectual movement is simply a number of like-minded idea-spreaders, we are essentially trying to distinguish one class of idea-spreaders from all the others in the world. This basic fact explains why serious idea-spreaders regularly attack those whom they regard as charlatans in their midst: they don’t want these fraudulent types seen as representatives of the class to which they themselves belong. It’s an effort to apply identity to their existence by promoting proper, objective classifications.
It is why those in the Objectivist intellectual movement, especially those who want to promote its concept of egoism (and even if they disagree among themselves on some other matters) must separate themselves from Carl Barney and Richard Minns, and call them out as the phonies that they are.
An email correspondent focused on the Jewish angle:
Einhorn is an apt analogy. To Jewish thinking the goyim are disposable. Per their megalomaniacal and sociopathic theology, tribe members are deemed the chosen of God and the goyim beasts in human form created to serve Jews as slaves.
He refers to the fact that Einhorn was a Jew who killed a Gentile and had a Jewish support network that helped him evade arrest afterwards. Likewise for Minns. “Goyim” is a disparaging Yiddish word for Gentiles as no better than cattle. (Yaron Brook used the G-word offhandedly in his talk “Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Semitism” on 26 March 2014 before a Jewish audience. When he gave the same talk before a general British audience on 16 November 2019 he omitted it.)
Then there were some exchanges on Twitter. The first began when a legal studies major and advocate of Criminal Justice reform, call her Respondent, said she attended AynRandCon. I replied
Since you are a student of criminal justice you might be interested in the Piotrowski Affair and someone ARI promotes, Richard Minns. See
Your article wasn’t making sense, so I googled. Richard Minns was never even questioned about the shooting of Barbra Piotrowski. The two shooters were sentenced to 35 years in prison. Get a life and quit spreading fake crap on the internet.
The shooting was a murder for hire, a “hit.” The two blacks who went to prison were ultimately hired by Richard Minns, the “prime mover.” The court documents are clear:
Six different judges were not, as you say, “spreading fake crap.”
You sent me a link about the appeal of Dudley Clifford Bell that has been doctored to remove the legal analysis. Regardless, 6 judges didn't convict Minns of hiring a hit man. You are still spreading fake crap on the internet because that isn't how it works.
Before my quote I say that the legal analysis is omitted, and I provide the URL for the entire judgment should you want to read it. Do you claim the judges said “X” in the factual and procedural background section and “not X” in the legal analysis section?
Indeed, Richard Minns was not convicted. He was not indicted. He was not arrested. He was not even questioned.
This says more about Houston PD corruption than it does about Minns’ innocence.
I’m not reading the case. [This] ... has been a waste of my time. I take false accusations seriously.
I have read the case. Your skepticism is understandable because the affair is incredible. But true.
The trigger man and getaway driver were sent to prison but the man who hired them to do the “hit” got away with it. Justice was not served.
Respondent did not reply.
Someone tweeted asking for Twitter members who were Objectivists. Someone else replied with a list of mostly ARI types. I replied
Re Jennifer Grossman, The Objective Standard (Craig Biddle), the Ayn Rand Institute (Yaron Brook et al) – they have yet to publicly retract their association with Richard Minns. By now they all know his history (some knew from the beginning). See
His reply concluded:
I don’t do guilt by association and I am not interested in your juvenile accusations. Please do not bother me with this nonsense again.
I didn’t bother his bubble again. To a couple of people who “liked” that reply I tweeted:
Have you read the article? Promoting Richard Minns is not guilt by association, the guilt of the promoters is quite direct.
In a thread started by Amy Peikoff someone tweeted that ARI supports the Church of Scientology and a murderer. Ms. Peikoff ignored the tweet. I replied:
Saying ARI supports Co$ may be a bit broad but through its spokesman Yaron Brook, ARI does whitewash Co$. See
And ARI does support a murderous psychopath. See
Someone else chimed in, probably after only glancing at the two references above. Call him Respondent:
Perhaps the author of these absurd hit pieces cannot differentiate between people and ideas. None of these “personality writings” presuppose any relevant ideas, and I suspect any biased writer could do the same with any organization. Is there any context dropping going on?
For brevity focus on
The top two men at ARI, Yaron Brook and Tal Tsfany, promote a murderous psychopath. Yes, that is about personality – and character. Yes, it is absurd, incredible – and true. The organization is one where justice was supposed to matter.
Respondent, who by now apparently read the piece on Minns and no longer thinks it absurd:
Is it possible others were taken in, for example: [references Jerusalem Post interview with Minns]
Especially not the Jerusalem Post. One of the first things a journalist does when writing about someone is look them up on the Internet. Do that for Minns and you immediately get many articles on the Piotrowski Affair. The JP knew and so do the people at ARI.
I read the material concerning the subject. It seems quite possible that his artwork (sculptures – which I consider secondhand efforts), fooled many at ARI, as many others outside of ARI were, by his chameleon-like persona and name changing.
Tal Tsfany is very close to Minns through the ARCI Atlas Award, Yaron Brook even closer because his association began at least two years earlier. If only one person in their orbit looked Minns up, the story is so horrendous they would have told everyone.
Respondent did not reply.
A more heartening response to a tweet of mine advertising the article on Minns:
I’m not a Yaron Brook fan. Frankly, I think he often misrepresents Ayn Rand’s philosophy. As for Minns, not only was [is] he scum, but his “sculptures” are pathetic. Why ARI would associate with him is beyond me.
Within a month of “Who Is Richard Minns” going online the following Objectivist honchos were given links to it via Twitter and Facebook, repeatedly to the point of hectoring. Except for two people at TOS, as noted, they are associated with ARI (or in the case of Amy Peikoff, in its orbit).
Yaron Brook, Craig Biddle (TOS), Tal Tsfany, Harry Binswanger, Andrew Bernstein, Peter Schwartz, Elan Journo, Benjamin Bayer, Thomas Bowden, Razi Ginzberg (ARI/ARC-UK), Timothy Sandefur (TOS), Greg Salmieri, Amy Peikoff
As argued in the W.I.R.M. article, the first three surely knew about the Piotrowski Affair already so it was no revelation to them. Now the others should know about it as well. Here is a complete list of the replies to date – over four months later – from all these people, whether on Twitter, Facebook, ARI’s website or anywhere else:
[This space intentionally left blank.]
The Ayn Rand Center Israel still displays Richard Minns’ sculpture on the main page of its website.
In the Silly Sixties many Leftists would not allow themselves to see the murderous history of the Black Panthers (Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson, Angela Davis); they saw only heroes uttering Leftist dogma. Likewise Minns is active in the Ayn Rand Center Israel and that seems to be all that matters to the Obleftivists at ARI and TOS. We are still waiting for them to acknowledge the true nature of the man behind the Atlas Award.