EXCLUSIVE: ‘Be prepared to be amazed – this place is sick!’ Bar owner who did a Facebook Live touring Tom Cruise’s Florida penthouse claims Church of Scientology planted a camera to ‘SPY’ and ‘intimidate’ him after video went viral
- Clay Irwin, owner of The Lucky Anchor bar, in Clearwater, Florida, says he was invited by a construction worker to view Tom Cruise’s unfinished penthouse
- Irwin did a Facebook Live of himself walking around the luxury condo with his dog Bruno
- In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, he claims Scientology honchos demanded he delete the video and began to ‘intimidate’ and ‘spy on him’
- The penthouse includes a roof deck complete with a luxury 39ft infinity pool, solarium, hot tub and bar
- Irwin claims workers shared the floor plans with him which show a nine-car parking space along with a private car elevator
- Irwin said his Scientologist neighbors were friendly and baked cakes for him – but turned cold after the video went viral
- He even posed up with John Travolta and Kelly Preston for selfies
- He claims he found a video camera on the lawn of Scientologist in his neighborhood pointing in his home
A Florida bar owner who live-streamed himself walking into Tom Cruise’s half-built penthouse has claimed the Church of Scientology ‘intimidated’ and ‘spied’ on him after the video he posted on Facebook went viral.
Clay Irwin, 54, who runs The Lucky Anchor in Clearwater, took to social media to film his tour of the actor’s unfinished two-story condo after he was invited in by a construction worker in January.
In the seven-minute video, Irwin pans around to the Hollywood star’s massive infinity pool and plush living quarters.
However, the video, which Irwin claims was meant to be ‘fun,’ was not amusing to Cruise’s fellow Scientologists.
SEE CLAY IRWIN’S VIDEO OF TOM CRUISE’S PENTHOUSE BELOW
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Irwin claims that following his visit to the star’s home, he was subjected to intimidation, bullying, and spying by Scientology operatives and he has requested local police and FBI investigate.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘I’m from Detroit, I’ve worked in Iraq, I picked Clearwater over six other cities, I thought it was paradise, and didn’t know a lot about Scientology.’
‘I might not have come here if I’d known about it,’ he added with an uneasy laugh.
When contacted by DailyMail.com requesting comment about Irwin’s claims, the spokeperson for the church said, in part,
‘I have no idea what you are alleging or where this is coming from.
‘As to our Church in Clearwater, we always maintains friendly relations with our neighbors. The Church in Clearwater actively contributes to the community and you can see a typical example here.’
Irwin says it all started when he came down from his home state of Michigan to open an Irish Bar right in the heart of downtown, only yards away from Scientology’s global headquarters – the Flag Building.
Clearwater, Florida has a large Scientology presence , and the church has reportedly swallowed up over $1 billion worth of real estate in the area and effectively ‘owns’ downtown. Earlier this year it announced even more expansion plans.
The Mission Impossible actor has long been a member and a major supporter of the controversial church.
Upon his arrival, Irwin said he tried to be friendly with his new neighbors.
‘I bought the bar six months ago, I was always trying to be neighborly. When you hear about the church, you don’t think about drama and conspiracy.
‘You think: “Great, there’s a church next door.” I wanted to respect their rules if they respected mine,’ he says.
When his bar first opened, he says high-ranking Scientologists were falling over themselves to be nice, and even baked cakes for him – until his improvised tour of the Mission Impossible star’s new home.
‘There were rumors that they were building a penthouse for Tom Cruise next to my bar. One construction worker came in, they all drank in my bar – well, they used to drink in my bar, now they’re not allowed – he told DailyMail.com.
‘I said: “That’s awesome, I’m a fan.”
So, then another time, he said: “I’ve got to go up there to check on some stuff, why don’t you come with me?”
‘Who wouldn’t want to see it? One of the biggest actor’s in the world and his penthouse? I [The video] went live and the thing went viral,’ he said.
Irwin, who took his dog Bruno along for the tour, is heard narrating the video to his viewers saying: ‘Be prepared to be amazed, this place is sick!’
Soon after his broadcast, the footage appeared on The Underground Bunker, a blog dedicated to reporting on Scientology.
Members of the church allegedly demanded the video be taken down and asked Irwin to delete the footage from his phone.
‘I went everywhere, I stood in his pool, the first person to do it. I moved a bunch of doors around, I went to rooms that no one else went to.
‘I saw a safe room, it was by the stairs, by the fire exit, in case of intruders. I pretended on video that Bruno had gone to the bathroom on the floor, he didn’t.’
The two-floor property is on top of a new development called The Skyview, which is owned by one of the richest Scientologists in the world, Mexican real estate mogul Moises Agami.
The 55-year-old’s penthouse is only a quarter of a mile from Flag Building, where members do the highest Scientology courses on offer including ones which are purported to give them superpowers.
According to Irwin, the construction workers shared the floor plans with him, which show Cruise has a nine-car parking space along with his own private car elevator.
He’ll then be able to walk through a passageway to a secret smaller condo, which features a flight simulator, office and small gym.
The penthouse itself – on the ninth and tenth floors – is fit for the Tinseltown king, including a roof deck complete with a luxury 39ft infinity pool, solarium, hot tub, and even a bar.
Irwin adds: ‘The construction worker even gave me the blueprints, what more could you ask for? I think Tom was taking the tenth floor, the ninth floor is for his son Connor, he’s a regular out here. We’d only ever heard good things about both Tom and Connor to be honest.
‘But then Tom found out, and he wasn’t happy, I thought it was fun, cool for friends, I didn’t really think I was invading his privacy, which I was, even though I’d been invited.
‘It was harmless, accidental to make him mad. The Church bigwigs came over and asked me to pull it down, they watched over my shoulder while I deleted it. I didn’t hesitate to do it. I understood.’
Irwin thought that was the end of the matter, but just a couple of months later, the church organized a big celebrity-packed party for local business owners and council officials.
In March, Scientology leader David Miscavige flew in specially, and celebrity Scientologists John Travolta, wife Kelly Preston, and Kirstie Alley also made appearances.
The Church was trying to buy up a prime piece of land and were schmoozing VIPs with their grand plans to turn Clearwater downtown into a Scientology-controlled zone of shops and offices, with an entertainment area backed by Tom Cruise himself.
According to Irwin, days before the event, Scientology execs had asked him if he agreed with their proposals, and not realizing the question was loaded, Irwin confesses: ‘I said they had enough property, they don’t need any new ones in town.’
Not surprisingly, Irwin wasn’t invited to the function.
‘Everyone got invited apart from me. They had John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, but they snubbed me. I didn’t even know it was going on until other people told me about it,’ he says.
But then Irwin says he bumped into Kelly Preston on the street and told her how he felt.
‘It was Easter Sunday, Kelly was walking by, she sat down and we talked for half an hour and said I should get over it.
She was right, but I said: ‘I didn’t want to miss out with my picture taken with you!’ I’d had a crush on her ever since the movie Twins. She said: ‘If you want my picture, let’s take a picture together,’ says Irwin.
‘I felt better about everything, why hold a grudge? I’d met Travolta before, I spoke to him, and he was great, super nice guy, this was about two years ago, he had a premiere at Capitol Theatre in town. When you meet people that nice, it’s hard to hate the thing they belong to.’
But Irwin says Scientology PRs also tried to prevent him from doing any interviews with local TV and newspapers, who were all keen to hear from the guy who had first set foot in Tom Cruise’s new pad.
The Church made him an offer. ‘They said we’ll do our own thing for you to publicize the bar, I said, I don’t want that sort of publicity, I want people from every religion.
‘They said they would set me up with a couple of celebrities to pose for pictures. I didn’t know whether to believe them.’
So he refused it, adding: ‘Everyone went cold, people stopped talking to me, stopped saying hi, people who I see every day, they no longer speak. They’d brought me cookies and cake and asked how everything was going before all this.’
Then the weirdness began, he claims. It started with new customers asking technical questions about the bar and the council calling round to pull him up on tiny infringements of local laws.
‘I had a couple of weird customers in my bar, making strange comments, just enough to make me think about it.
‘Then I’m starting to get caught with violation city codes, stupid stuff, they told me I had too much signage in my window. I don’t know if it’s them [Scientology]. You only think it’s them,’ he said.
But the oddities turned sinister when Irwin was walking his dog and he stumbled across a camera in a neighbor’s yard, which pointed at his home. His neighbor, Irwin claims, is a Scientologist.
‘It was June 15th I was walking my dog, he was barking at this bush, I thought it was a little quiver, I looked to see what it was… it was a camera. I thought it was a nature camera, then it was, like, wait a second, that’s pointing at my house.
‘This is not a nature camera, this is a spy camera. I pulled it out of the ground, and thought, are you freaking kidding me?’
‘It took me a week to crack the files, as they were protected, but I’m pretty good with computers, and they had been watching my house, it was really creepy seeing my car and me walking around.
‘There was also previous footage of another family from February or March time.
Irwin says it took three days of knocking on his neighbors’ doors before he was able to ask about the device.
‘I asked: ‘Have you put a camera in your bush pointing at my house? They said: ‘No’. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Why was the camera in the yard of a Scientologist? I made a police report and spoke to the FBI, who told me to contact the local authorities, and they want to confiscate the camera.
‘But I want to make sure I’ve got all the files off the camera first. The police have been co-operative and said they will get to the bottom of it. They were very sympathetic.’
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Calls to the Clearwater police by DailyMail.com have not been returned.
While he waits for the police investigation, Irwin says that he just wants to turn a profit in the bar, which locals are too petrified to go in, and he feels is being watched 24/7.
On the plus side, he’s already gained a cult following across the US and people have been sending donations through GoFundMe and messages of support.
‘It’s like walking on eggshells, I feel like I’m being followed. Every time I walk my dog, I’m looking for cameras. Who lives like this? Why are they doing this? Right now, they’re just trying to intimidate.
‘I worked in Iraq for a few years as a contractor, so it’s going to be pretty hard to move me. If there’s any connection to Scientology, I’ll sue their a** off,’ he says.
‘I’ve got some friends who are in Scientology and they’re leaving the church, as they don’t approve of a lot of stuff that’s happening, and then they hear what happened to me.
‘I don’t like calling it a church, most believe in a God or Power, this thing was made out of comic books.
‘I’m getting people from all over the country donating money because of what they’ve heard – Oregon, Washington, everywhere – I need it though because it’s been rough. A lot of my customers are afraid to come in as they’re scared of being watched.
‘If it got really sh***y, then yes I’d have to bolt, but it’d have to be bad. They’d have to pour gasoline over my property and even then I don’t think I’d back down. I’m here for six years at least, they’ll have to deal with it.
‘Even to this day, if my customers yell or say something negative to them, I put a stop to it straightaway, it’s not how I want to run the place.
‘They [Scientology] had a block party the other week and I said you can use my bar if you need the bathroom or water. It doesn’t make sense to hate.’
‘But I’ve heard nothing from my celebrity pals since this all happened. Think an invite to Tom Cruise’s place is now out of the question, don’t you?’