And what does this have to do with Rolls Royces? Well, it all has to do with a man who used to be called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh later Osho. He was the leader of a movement— some would say cult— that migrated into the hills of Oregon in the 1980s.
Their presence had a large effect on surrounding areas and is even believed to have reportedly led to the doubling of gun sales in Oregon.
The Rajneesh Movement in Oregon and his Rolls Royce Collection
The Bhagwan moved from India to Oregon where he bought land there and formed Rajneeshpuram. Rajneeshpuram was a religious commune in Oregon where he and his followers lived, founded in the '80s as an agricultural community with nearly 7,000 inhabitants.
Rajneeshees practiced meditation and prayer together and they had a strong belief in free love. The commune brought in hundreds of millions of dollars at the peak of its existence, charging people for religious retreats and selling various items at those retreats, including souvenirs, therapy groups, and food. The Bhagwan became very rich and invested a lot of his money into his Rolls Royce collection.
Each had a different, often exotic paint jobs, and he would slowly drive them daily for —Drive-by Blessings. " At 2pm each day, people would line the road and place flowers on the car's hood as he slowly drove by. He became known as the —Rolls-Royce Guru " and came to own 93 of them.
The Bhagwan was tax-exempt for quite some time under the Rajneesh Modern Car Collection Trust; a program where he leased his cars to wealthy followers for up to $6,000 donations. This status was taken away eventually, though.
To put that in perspective, his collection— after he bought 8 back— sold for $7 million. That's more than $14 million in today's money.
Rajneeshees Spread Out and Gun Sales Double
This is just one small aspect of what happened in Oregon during the early '80, but it is certain that the community had a great effect on surrounding towns and the state at large. It soon became evident that they weren't using their land within the zoning guidelines— it was zoned for agricultural purposes with a limit of 6 people living there. The solution? Buy buildings and land in nearby Antelope, OR and, essentially, take it over.
This troubled the residents of that town, who were largely retired or long-time residents. Soon, Rajneeshees were elected into half of the town's city council seats and as the mayor (easy, since a majority of the town population now consisted of them). They quickly renamed the town —Rajneesh, " and changed the local school's name to the —Rajneesh International Meditation University, " and made similar changes throughout the town.
Learn about the evolution of firearms here!
Things started getting ... tense, and the city of Rajneeshpuram was deemed illegal in 1983. This is where the Rolls Royce Guru's secretary comes into play. She began, and essentially tested, a plan to spread salmonella at local salad bars. This would render people unable to vote and guarantee the Rajneeshees would win. This was discovered, along with her plans to assassinate a U.S. Attorney, and she was jailed for 2 years then deported to Switzerland.
The Bhagwan was also deported after pleading guilty to almost 40 counts of immigration fraud, and his Rolls Royce collection was sold (The Bhagwan himself bought back 8 of them). While Rajneeshpuram is now abandoned, the Rajneesh movement is still alive today in the form of Osho.
The fear this all instilled in Oregon residents reportedly led to the doubling of gun sales in the state of Oregon during that time.