REVIEW: Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal and the Missing Millions

Soon they were responding to each other’s public posts with inside jokes. The official cause of death was “complications from Crohn’s disease,” but the gastroenterologist who treated Cotten told the Globe and Mail that the death still haunted him. Cotten’s generosity helped to compensate for a social aloofness that, despite his implacable cheerfulness, prevented him from developing close relationships. “He was always smiling, really friendly, offering stuff,” says Alex Salkeld, a member of the original Vancouver Bitcoin circle. In January 2014 Salkeld posted a video on YouTube in which Cotten gently teaches his young daughters how to operate the Bitcoin ATM; Salkeld is certain that his two-year-old is the youngest person ever to have purchased Bitcoin.

  • When one user wanted their money back, Gerry used to take it from another user and pay them their money.
  • Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute.
  • He reportedly had Crohn’s disease and passed away abruptly while traveling through India with his new bride, Jennifer Robertson.

All told, 2018 was the year Quadriga started losing its wheels. In January, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce froze $30 million in Quadriga funds. On top of that, as the price of bitcoin plummeted, more and more people were exiting their positions and trying to get their cash off the exchange.

Share this Story: Trustee investigating ‘unauthorized’ transfer of bitcoin from previously inaccessible QuadrigaCX wallets

There was some confusion regarding the embalming process because initially, the embalmer didn’t accept the body. Then, Gerry’s body was sent to a local medical college, where the embalming certificate was issued. She moved into a cabin owned by her family, taught English online for a bit, and went back to school. She had two relationships after Cotten, and neither of them ended well because she “still had feelings for Gerry.” She has since said she is now in yet another relationship and is pregnant. It is also a wonder that Robertson, who talks at length about her curiosity for the world, had no curiosity whatsoever about Cotten’s business or the piles of cash coming in and going out of their home. Stay on top of crypto news, get daily updates in your inbox.

Gerry was on his honeymoon in India with Jennifer in December 2018. At the time, the couple was looking to open an orphanage in that country. They had been living at a hotel in Jaipur, India, when Gerry came down with an intense stomach ache just days into their holiday. On December 8, 2018, the 30-year-old was rushed to a local hospital sometime in the evening. Many believe Cotten formulated a plan to steal the money his company oversaw by faking his death. It’s a wonder that Cotten, who ran Quadriga as a one-man show from his laptop after 2016 when Patryn supposedly stepped away, got any real work done at all.

Quadriga’s entire board resigned, leaving Cotten as Quadriga’s only full-time employee. In 2017, as the price of a Bitcoin shot to nearly $20,000, Quadriga processed nearly $2 billion in trades from 363,000 individual accounts. Ernst & Young found five Quadriga cold wallet addresses, but they were empty, containing no cryptocurrency since April 2018. Another “appears to have been used to receive Bitcoin from another cryptocurrency exchange account and subsequently transfer Bitcoin to the Quadriga hot wallet” on 3 December.

Ponzi Schemes, Private Yachts, and a Missing $250 Million in Crypto: The Strange Tale of Quadriga

Cotten said he had a helicopter license and offered to take Salkeld on a ride. All theories are unproven and Cotten is believed to have died in December 2018. Others accused his wife, Robertson of involvement in his death and/or disappearance, an accusation which pushed her to attempt to take her own buying vechain life, she shared with The Globe and Mail. Suspicions were fuelled when his name was misspelled on his death certificate and by the fact that he had prepared his will just days before his honeymoon. Since Cotten’s passing, there have been numerous rumors and conspiracy theories that he is still alive.

gerry cotten

Patryn had said that Cotten was “like a little brother to me.” This was how those who had known both of them saw it too, though the characterization usually wasn’t intended as a compliment. At a time when the Bitcoin Co-op was a small group of crypto enthusiasts who met in each others’ apartments, Patryn wrote them an email out of the blue, expressing his support. They usually did the outreaching; nobody had reached out to them before. At the time of his passing, he had over CA$250 million [$200 million] and the passwords to Quadriga’s accounts. According to the Netflix documentary, at least 110,000 customers were affected.

What did Gerry Cotten do with all the money?

Gerry’s health had deteriorated significantly in a short period. Netflix undoubtedly picked the title for this documentary based on the activities of Gerry Cotten. However, it could and should serve as the mantra of the entire digital currency industry. Gerry, full name Gerald, was a Canadian Bitcoin investor, who founded the cryptocurrency trading platform Quadriga CX. In short, Gerry screwed himself and got stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s hard to say what would have happened had he not died when he did.

gerry cotten

Actually, we now know he wasn’t actually working so much as spending and gambling away other people’s money. Cotten founded Quadriga in late 2013 with business partner Michael Patryn, who turns out to be ex-con Omar Dhanani, who spent 18 months behind bars in the US, before being sent back to Canada. Robertson claims she never actually met Patryn and had no notion of his shady past — or that Cotten and Patrynwent way back. Globe goes to Cotten’s hospital in India to put the whole “fake death” thing to bed. Couldn’t get into Cotten’s laptops, and found an affidavit from Robertson saying that she didn’t understand how QuadrigaCX operated—even though one of Robertson’s companies later wired cash to some of Quadriga’s customers.

Gerald Cotten

This was the detail that most shocked cryptocurrency professionals. If you lose the private key to your cryptocurrency wallet—a long, randomly generated password, all but impossible to memorize—your pay for flights with bitcoin funds are gone forever. The cautionary tales of fortunes lost because of misplaced private keys have the quality, in Bitcoin mythology, of the homilies delivered at religious gatherings.

Is The Hunt for the crypto King real?

Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King is a Netflix original documentary film directed by Luke Sewell. Its story follows a group of cryptocurrency investors who investigate the untimely death of their exchange's founder, Gerry Cotten as well as the $250 million that they suspect he stole from them.

After the public bid failed, he kept no internal records—an almost inconceivable state of affairs for a company with an annual trading volume of more than $1 billion. Patryn told reporters after Cotten’s death that they had met online over five years ago, but this was about as accurate as calling himself an “adviser” to Quadriga when in fact he had been the cofounder. They traced the relationship back to 2003, to a dingy warren victory super kraken of a website called TalkGold. It was devoted to high-yield investment programs, or HYIPs, more commonly known as Ponzi schemes. The major break in the investigation was not a revelation, exactly, but something that had been hiding in plain sight. As it turned out, Michael Patryn—as Michael Perklin and nearly everyone in the close-knit Canadian cryptocurrency community had known for years—was not really Michael Patryn.

In fact, jilted investors have requested to have the body exhumed. According to the documentary, Cotten had long suffered from Crohn’s disease but kept quiet about it. On Dec. 8, nine days after landing in India and having checked into the luxurious Oberoi Rajvilas Hotel in Jaipur, he was hit with severe stomach pain. Doctors at a nearby hospital initially wrote off the malady as traveler’s diarrhea.

He launched QuadrigaCX in 2013, and it quickly became one of the largest crypto exchanges. Business picked up when Bitcoin hit the big time in 2017, reaching prices close to $20,000. In the detailed report, the OSC said he had opened accounts under aliases and credited himself with fictitious currency and crypto asset balances, which he then traded with unsuspecting Quadriga clients. The OSC, which investigated alongside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said Quadriga collapsed as a result of an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in a new technology.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG. From almost the moment the news came out that Cotten had died, long before the explosive report from Ernst & Young, theories started circulating online that Cotten was still alive and had faked his own death.

Robertson gets Cotten into the upscale Fortis hospital where his condition worsens. He goes into cardiac arrest twice before dying of a third cardiac arrest. She is with him through the entire event and is tasked with getting his body back to Halifax, where they were living before things fell apart. A closed-casket funeral is held and Cotten’s body is put into the frozen earth. His body was severely swollen, too swollen for a public viewing, Robertson says.

When people noticed how money had been transferred to other exchanges abroad, the creditors concluded that there was a larger play at hand. That is when internet sleuths and journalists started digging deep into Michael’s past. People who lost their money started to express their doubts regarding Cotten’s death. The fact that he died in Jaipur, India, while setting up a charitable organization sounded all the more dubious. People connected through a group chat on Telegram, where they discussed the possibility of Cotten being alive. After all, those who had lost their money could only get it back if they could prove that he was indeed alive.

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There’s ample evidence pointing to the idea that Cotten was indeed planning an exit scam and that he was a con artist. The trading activities were massive – the report detailed that between 2016 and 2018, Cotten transferred 9,450 bitcoin, 387,738 ether and 239,020 litecoin out of the exchange’s accounts. Quadriga Fintech Solutions was the owner and operator of QuadrigaCX, which was believed to be Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. In 2019 the exchange ceased operations and the company filed for bankruptcy with C$215.7 million in liabilities and about C$28 million in assets. Adding to their woes was Gerry’s prior history of fraud, and the company’s co-founder also had a history of fraudulent behavior. Back in India, the gastroenterologist stated that he couldn’t be sure about the diagnosis without the autopsy.

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