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Famous Deaths In the Cryptocurrency Space

Famous Deaths In the Cryptocurrency Space

Famous Deaths In the Cryptocurrency Space

The cryptocurrency sphere is a strange one. Since the very beginning, Bitcoin has been surrounded by mystery and death. The creator of the original cryptocurrency, Satoshi Nakamoto has disappeared without a trace since December 2010.

The man who enabled people to buy cryptocurrencies, made people build and buy Ethereum, litecoin, and other coins; the man who gave us an alternative financial system is nowhere to be found today. Some even think that he might be dead, and his millions of Bitcoins will remain locked in his wallets forever.

However, Satoshi’s mysterious disappearance isn’t the only event in the crypto sphere that is surrounded by mystery. Over the past decade, there have been quite a few high-profile deaths related to crypto, that we will talk about in this article. But first, let’s have a look at some of the risks of cryptocurrencies that can occur if their owner suddenly dies.

The risks of crypto

Cryptocurrencies are digital assets that offer a great advantage – they offer complete ownership to the user that holds the keys. There’s no intermediary between you and your crypto, just a pair of codes that allow you to locate them on the blockchain and spend them:

  • The private key acts as a code to sign transactions.
  • The public address that can be shared in order to receive more coins.

Consequently, the owner of the private key is the only one that can spend the coins associated with the corresponding public address. If this private key is lost, so are the coins. Satoshi once wrote: “Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone.”.

While this is a great feature for Bitcoin’s value over time and adds to its scarcity, it’s not such a great feature for the families of the deceased. If you don’t share your private key with a close one or store it where they can recover it upon your death, your coins will be irredeemably lost. Such huge losses have happened a few times, as you will see in our list below.

Famous deaths in crypto

Now that you know what can happen if the worst happens, let’s have a look at some of the high-profile deaths in the crypto world.

Hal Finney – died in 2014

Hal Finney was a software developer and worked on the original Bitcoin protocol together with Satoshi Nakamoto. He was one of the original cypherpunks, activists that fought for user privacy and anonymity in the early days of the internet.

Finney was the person that received the first Bitcoin transaction, way back in 2009. His death isn’t mysterious at all, as it was the result of a long-term illness called ALS. However, many still speculate that Finney was actually Satoshi Nakamoto himself, although he denied this assumption to his very death.

Dave Kleiman – died in 2013

Dave Kleiman is yet another individual that might have been the mysterious Satoshi. He was a computer forensics expert and was allegedly involved in Bitcoin’s development. While Kleiman died of natural causes, paralyzed from the chest down and succumbed to MRSA.

It is believed that Kleiman mined over 1 million Bitcoin before his death. Considering the price of bitcoin today, this fortune is worth more than $30 billion.

Gerald Cotten – died in 2019

Gerald Cotten was the CEO of QuadrigaCX, a famous Canadian cryptocurrency space exchange. It is believed that Cotten died from complications of Crohn’s disease after a trip to India. However, what’s strange about this death is that the exchange divulged the death of its CEO only months after the fact.

Moreover, according to the exchange, Cotten died without telling anyone about the private keys where most of the user’s funds were kept in cold storage. This resulted in what is regarded as one of the biggest exit scams in the industry, with more than $150 million of user’s funds disappearing.

Mircea Popescu – died 2021

Mircea Popescu was one of the richest cryptocurrency space owners, with more than $1 billion of funds locked in crypto. An early BTC adopter, Popescu died in mysterious circumstances, drowning near the coast of Costa Rica.

Again, it seems that Popescu was the only one acquainted with the private keys of his Bitcoin fortune.

John McAfee – died 2021

John McAfee was a controversial figure in the crypto space. He made his fortune by creating the popular McAfee antivirus company and later focused his business efforts on promoting cryptocurrencies.

During the ICO craze of 2017, he was accused of pump and dump schemes and was subsequently imprisoned for fraud by the American government. He died in prison from an apparent suicide, possibly leaving millions in crypto lost forever.


Cryptocurrencies offer total ownership of your fortune, away from banks and governments. However, this advantage comes at a risk, and if the worst happens, your coins could be lost without any hope for recovery. Consequently, ensure that you have a system for leaving the details of your funds to your loved ones so they don’t end in the pile of so-called “donations”.


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