‘World Buddhism’ Group Buys 12.2 Acre, $17.5 Million Land By SLS, But Lacks Funds to Build Temple
Posted on: August 8, 2018, 03:59h.
Last updated on: August 8, 2018, 04:04h.
A Southern California-based group known as the World Buddhism Association Headquarters — which holds questionable status in the mainstream Buddhist world — has come up with $17.5 million for a 12.2 acre plot of land that sits adjacent to the SLS off of Sahara and Paradise Roads.
Specifically what and when the group plans to build — and with what funds — remains murky. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the sale on Tuesday, and with it, brought up many conundrums wrapped up in the somewhat mysterious purchase.
According to the RJ, the group has financial links to artist Yi Yungao (who sometimes also goes by Wan Ko Yee), who these days goes by the name of “His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III.” Yi is proclaimed — by both himself and his followers (but not by most Buddhists) — to be the third incarnation of Vajradhara, the primordial Buddha, lord of all mysteries, master of all secrets.
Why the Strip?
Yi is a Chinese citizen, now residing in Pasadena, California. In 2009, he was the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant at the behest of the Chinese government for allegedly perpetrating a $7 million fraud. Beijing has been known to persecute Buddhist leaders, historically.
The group’s lawyer, Steven Meyers, confirmed to the RJ that the parcel of land will be used to build a Buddhist temple, although he stressed that it does not have the funds available to start building immediately.
Meyers said the Strip proximity was targeted for the project because it represents everything that Buddhism can bring balance to.
Precisely because the Las Vegas Strip is a place known for excessive drinking, eating, gambling, and other behavior,” said Meyer, adding that the buyers wanted to introduce Buddhism to those “who do not understand the meaning of life [so that they] can learn to … help others, benefit society, and contribute to making our country better and stronger.”
Perhaps because the Strip real estate market is picking up, the sale is even more out of the box than it would normally appear.
Artwork Makes Millions
Yi is known to have some wealthy followers, and sells his paintings for millions, which may explain the bankroll for the group’s new acquisition.
One of his artworks, Ink Lotus, sold for $16.5 million to an anonymous bidder at a 2015 auction in New York.
Yi is also connected to some notorious politicians. In 2007, he was recognized as “the reincarnation of the primordial Buddha” by the US House of Representatives, thanks to a resolution introduced by then-Rep. Corrine Brown (D-17th Dist).
Public records revealed $120,000 lavished on Congressional members by Yi’s faithful, with the express intent of getting such resolutions passed. One of those was Brown, who is now doing time in Florida’s Coleman Correctional Complex for her role in misusing $800,000 in unrelated funds that had been earmarked for student tuition.
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