Craig Wright commit suicide
Bitcoin,  People

Did Craig Wright try to commit suicide with a Japanese katana?

A witness in the ongoing lawsuit over the $10 billion in bitcoin Wright says he mined as Satoshi Nakamoto testified that a failed attempt to prove that claim led to a suicide attempt

Shortly after the failed BBC demonstration that was supposed to have have proved Craig Wright is Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, software developer Gavin Andresen received an email. 

“All Stop. Craig has just tried to injure himself and is bleeding badly in the washroom,” it read. “Stefan [Matthews] is there with him and [wife] Ramona and I am en route. Ambulance is on its way.” According to a recently released deposition of Bitcoin Foundation’s Gavin Andresen.

Craig Wright commit suicide
Cross my heart… (Photo: BBC)

That statement by the Bitcoin Foundation’s Andresen came in a deposition made public on June 27. It is part of a $10 billion lawsuit by the estate of Wright’s late friend and partner, Dave Kleiman, seeking half of the 1.1 million bitcoins mined by the original blockchain’s creator, who worked under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

That strange PR move with the BBC has never sat right with crypto-folk, few of whom believe Wright’s claim. Andresen’s deposition shines a new light on this very weird moment in crypto history. 

“[T]hat gobbledygook proof that he published was certainly deception, if not an outright lie… he bamboozled me there.”

Gavin Andresen

To recap: in 2016 Craig Wright said on the BBC, “I am going to demonstrate the signing of a digital message with a public key associated with the first transaction ever done on bitcoin.” The tech firm nCrypt had invested in Wright’s patents and technology, and had reformed as nChain. 

To drum up publicity for the venture—rumored to be aimed at making a big sale to Google or another tech company—they had Wright show a BBC presenter that he could sign a message using the keys associated with the ninth bitcoin block.

Craig Wright commit suicide
Craig Wright commit suicide
(Photos: BBC)

This famous block also contains the first bitcoin transaction when one early adopter sent 50 bitcoin to Hal Finney.

The BBC presenter said, “And who is associated with making that transaction?”

“Well, the moniker is ‘Satoshi Nakamoto,’” Craig responded (Weirdly, if you watch the video Craig pronounces moniker as “monkier”–which does appear in U.K. English as an offshoot of the oft-opaque Cockney Rhyming Slang, where words are intentionally miss used.)

“At no point did I lie to you nor deceive you, but it is better that I am a hoaxer”

Gavin Andresen

“So you’re going to show me that Satoshi Nakamoto is you?”

Craig pauses here. Thinks quite deliberately for a second and then nods, “Yes.”

$50 in bitcoin

However, at the time, Gavin Andresen was coming to London to do a more involved test. Gavin was given $50 in bitcoin to send to Block 9. At the time Gavin went on record saying he saw evidence that Craig was Satoshi.

The trip to the hospital put a stop to a proposed test where Craig would receive $50 in bitcoin on Block 9 and then use his private keys to send it back. Only Satoshi Nakamoto would have key code.

Velvel Freedman, our all time favorite plaintiff lawyer, pushed Gavin on this during the deposition. “Did you get any more details then beyond this email?”

“I believe there was a phone call,” he replied. “I don’t recall with who, who said that—were they at Craig’s house?”

Craig Wright commit suicide
A witness in Craig Wright’s $10 billion bitcoin case claims Wright tried to kill himself after a failed attempt to prove he is Satoshi Nakamoto (Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

That last bit could mean the difference between accidentally cutting oneself and full-on seppuku. Wright is a collector of katana blades and other martial arts supplies including a full chainmail suit and a suit of armor. (In our Facetime interviews you can usually see this in the background of his various home offices).

“I don’t recall the location, but they were somewhere. Craig disappeared upstairs and then was found bleeding with cuts to his neck, and then was taken to the hospital in—in an ambulance with an apparent suicide attempt. I think the word ‘suicide’ was—was used.”

This information all appears to be second hand. There is no difference between what Andresen has passed along and what he could have been told by someone else if—and this is totally just a hypothetical—if Craig had broken a glass either absent mindedly or in frustration and cut himself. Either way, Gavin swears that someone told him it was suicide.

There’s more to examine in the intense BBC moment. Craig appears short-tempered and stops short of crossing a line that would prove he has the private keys to block nine. There are still no transactions recorded in the blockchain.

Suicide isn’t painless

Suicide is not mentioned in the deposition of Andrew O’Hagan, or expert witness Robert Scott Radvanovsky, or Australian scientist Jamie Wilson. 

The only other mention of suicide is whether 46-year-old Dave Kleiman’s death on April 26, 2013,  was a suicide. He had refused to accept treatment for serious, chronic infections he had suffered for years as the method.

Notes from the Miami Veterans Administration hospital on May 25, 2011, obtained by Modern Consensus note that Dave Kleiman, “denied current suicidal or suicidal ideations, plans and/or intents.” 

Notably, working with Wright on bitcoin kept his spirits up. The VA noted:  “Additionally, patient has continued to participate in work related activities to stay occupied.” 

Twenty-three months later, Kleiman was dead.

Craig’s apology

Freedman the asked Andresen, “This is an email between you and Robert MacGregor?”

Gavin Andresen (Photo: Wikipedia)

“Yes,” he responded.

“One of the money men group,” said Freedman.

A 2017 Reuters article identifies MacGregor as an associate of CoinGeek’s Calvin Ayre, an online gambling billionaire. The article states, “Canadian Robert MacGregor, another long-term Ayre associate, was a director of EITC Holdings until mid-April 2016. The documents do not disclose the shareholders of the company.”

Freedman: “Okay. And in it you say to Robert MacGregor that you see two possibilities about what’s going on, either Craig is Satoshi and is under incredible pressure not to provide proof — or, rather, the pressure of providing proof is too much?”

“Yes,” Andresen said.

“And then Robert MacGregor sends a message on May 4th, 2016,” Freedman said. “ You’re all waiting for Craig to send this transaction…Robert MacGregor, who has been working with Craig for at least a few months now on this coming out as Satoshi—is that accurate?

“Yes,” said Andresen.

Freedman: “It says, ‘I agree completely.’” 

He then holds up another email, the printout is labeled Exhibit 31. “It’s an apology email from Craig Wright to you,” Freedman asked.

“Yes,” Andresen said.

“Sent May 7, 2016. And in the third paragraph down, it says—Craig tells you, “At no point did I lie to you nor deceive you, but it is better that I am a hoaxer,” asked Freedman. 

“Yes, I see that he said that,” Andresen replied.

Freedman then asked, “Do you believe that?”

“No,” said Andresen.

“What do you really believe,” Freedman responded.

Craig Wright “certainly deceived me about what kind of blog post he was going to publish, and that gobbledygook proof that he published was certainly deception, if not an outright lie,” Andresen said. “So at the very least, that, I consider, you know, that—he bamboozled me there.”

Illegal access?

The Kleiman’s lawyers continued asking Andresen about this: “If the—the Bitcoins were supposed to be locked in a trust, but Craig kept the private keys when he was not supposed to, then that would be a good reason for him not to sign something with a key that he is not supposed to have access to.”

Chronology requires this comes at the end. But let’s not bury the lede. Andresen is saying that in his opinion Craig tried to have it both ways. He put the keys in a trust, so that no one could steal them from him AND kept a copy of at least some keys. Even though they were legally out of his possession.

“So that is the—that is my speculation on why he might have been very resistant to signing any messages with those early keys,” Andresen told Freedman

“To show he has access to private keys he really shouldn’t have access to,” Freedman replied. “And you might have predicted this earlier, but do you see the opening sentence of your email? What does it say?” 

“Why the OpenSSL hoop-jumping exercise and not just a simple Electrum-signed message,” asked Andreson 

“Which, is it fair, in layman’s speak, to say, ‘Why didn’t you just do the easy signature instead of some complex gobbledygook that turned out to be nothing,’” Freedman replied.

“Yes,” said Andresen.

Freedman then said, “So it’s your understanding that Craig is refusing to publicly prove that he holds the private keys to block nine because it would show he inappropriately kept private keys from the trust?”

“Or used them in a way that was outside of some legal agreement in the trust, yes,” Andresen responded.

“So that he has them, as he signed with them, but isn’t allowed to move coin with them,” asked Freedman.

“Yes,” Andersen said.

In light of the new information about the hospital visit it is hard to say whether Craig Wright had acted out of frustration or to change the narrative. 

This raises so many questions about the rules of the Tulip Trust—the encrypted document Wright has said contains the private keys needed to access that $10 billion in bitcoin.

The most obvious is, if Gavin had sent $50 bitcoin to Craig and Craig sent it back would that count as breaking the trust?

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Brendan Sullivan is a writer, producer, and author of the memoir Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives. Disclosure: he owns cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter.