For Bustle, Moe Tkacik takes a close look at the ways in which wealthy, new-agey Rebekah Paltrow Neumann — Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin, Adam Neumann’s wife — helped fuel WeWork’s rise and spectacular fall.
Not surprisingly in late-stage capitalism, many WeWork-adjacent faux-virtuous institutions came tumbling down right around the same time the co-working behemoth failed.
The Kabbalah Centre preaches that you can get what you want by willing or “manifesting” it to be. According to the former WeWork staffer, Adam believed that by the time the music stopped, so much important real estate would be annexed by WeWork that they’d be Too Big to Fail. Lofty marketing and lush amenities nearly got them there. “You can use the language of spirituality to revive a discredited idea,” [Rebekah’s yoga instructor and Uma Thurman’s brother Dechen] Thurman says. “And so, the yoga business is old-fashioned labor exploitation, and maybe WeWork was a Ponzi scheme.”
By the middle of the decade, Rebekah’s spiritual stomping grounds had come under fire for taking advantage of congregants. The Jivamukti yoga studio was sued for sexual harassment in 2016 and later settled; it closed its doors in New York City in December 2019. The Kabbalah Centre has faced multiple lawsuits from former members over misappropriated donations and sexual assault, and is currently being sued by seven former staffers who accuse the group of forcing them to sign “vows of poverty” and work essentially for free.
The junk mail company that had bankrolled Rebekah’s lavish childhood began to collapse, too, a few months before WeWork’s botched IPO. In March 2019, roughly 700 employees of a company factory in Ciudad Juárez were told to take a three-day weekend, only to return to an empty warehouse; in interviews, employees said the machinery had been driven back across the border. No one bothered leaving their last paychecks, so employees resorted to hanging “Wanted” posters outside the plant with photos of Rebekah’s brother-in-law, Nick Robinson, who had been running the company during Bob Paltrow’s tax evasion case and is accused in one lawsuit of looting its coffers.