Life on the Run- An Insiders Look at John McAfee on the Run
I opened my Telegram and noticed I had way more messages than usual. I knew something was askew. The headers of the messages were all very similar, “John McAfee just called you an idiot on Twitter.” Here we go I muttered under my breath as I further investigated what all the hype was about. I wandered over to John’s Twitter account and sure enough, John had tweeted that he was abandoning the Ghost project and that Josh Case is an idiot. Let’s back up…
The following essay was written by guest author Josh Case and submitted to Bitcoin.com’s newsdesk to publish as a featured editorial. The work will appear in a book titled “Ghosted,” with never-before-told stories authored by Case. The opinions expressed in this editorial are the author’s own and do not reflect the opinions of Bitcoin.com and its newsdesk. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any opinions, content, accuracy, or quality within the article.
I first met John McAfee at his home in Tennessee in the early days of 2018. I had emailed his manager Jimmy trying to set up a meeting and an interview with John, and I was kind of surprised when they agreed and set a date. I immediately jumped into full research mode and began a deep dive into John McAfee’s history. I had been following him for years, but his story was even more interesting than I had thought.
After McAfee Associates, the company behind McAfee Antivirus, John went on to start a pharmaceutical company, opened a yoga/meditation retreat, tried his hand at real estate, and even ran for the President Of The United States, twice. Some also speculate he developed new recreational drugs, tried to overthrow the Belizean government, murdered his neighbor, and a lot of other things, but these accusations were never backed up with any evidence and were always chalked up as speculation.
A couple of hours from John’s town and I had still yet to receive the address of where I was going. They had told me they wouldn’t send me the address until the day of the meeting, for security purposes, but I was starting to get a little worried. I sent Jimmy a text trying to get the info I needed, but he had yet to read my last few texts, so I didn’t expect a quick reply from this one either. I was listening to an interview with John on Youtube when Jimmy texted me back, and the address flashed across the top of my screen. As I punched it into my GPS my mind was racing with thoughts about how the night would go.
As I approached his house, a really nice two-story home tucked away in a small town, the butterflies started kicking in. I was staying the night at John McAfee’s house, fresh off the bull market of 2017, before anyone even realized 2018 was going to be a bear market. I knew this was going to be a night to remember… And it sure was.
I lugged my stuff to the door, rang the buzzer, and waited for someone to answer. I wondered to myself if John was going to answer? Or one of his security. The door creaks slowly open, and two very large guys, personal security for John McAfee answer the door and ask who I am. I tell them, and they see me into the guest living room. I can hear John in the room next to me whining and dining lawyers and politicians and it’s not long until the guests leave, and the only people left in the house are those that live there. John has his wife Janice of course, several live-in bodyguards, his manager Jimmy, and a couple of others. Friends, traders, etc.
It’s not long until we are all drinking whisky, philosophizing the meaning of life, and being schooled by John on the history and usefulness of suspenders. “Suspenders lost their popularity after WWI, but they are coming back,” John shouted with excitement. “All great men know that you can’t think while wearing a belt, it cuts off your circulation.” John quickly left the room and came back with a pair of suspenders to give to me. “Here, this will change your life,” John proclaimed. I am not a suspenders kind of guy, but I always wonder if John was right. Had I adopted the suspenders when he told me too, and increased my blood circulation, who knows what kind of man I could be today. A friendship was born that day, and John and I began speaking more frequently.
I have always been an idea guy, and like brainstorming concepts and ideas with like-minded people. John McAfee was the same. We began talking almost daily and found ourselves brainstorming all kinds of different concepts in which blockchain and cryptocurrency could solve real-world problems in a meaningful way. We came up with new ideas almost every day, and at times these calls felt more like an exercise in coming up with ideas than actually trying to build any of them. It was just fun talking about ways this technology can and will change the world. One idea we talked about for a few days, that John was always very interested in pursuing, was an app we were calling “History Day One” on our calls.
The concept was this. Imagine if we had verifiable records of random events in history. For instance, if 500 people were to add a tiny note to a blockchain ledger that said something like “On October 2019 at 5:00 p.m., John McAfee gave a speech at Barcelona Blockchain Week”, and they embedded a picture, video, or geolocation tag, showing when and where the event happened, it would give us a very good reviewable history of events all across the world. Users could retain their pseudo-anonymity by doing this with cryptocurrency addresses, but the sheer amount of volume of entries per event would lend credence to its authenticity.
After talking nearly every day for months, all of a sudden there was a break in communication.
In January 2019, after receiving inside information that he would be indicted by a grand jury in TN, McAfee took to the sea on a Yacht, fleeing the U.S. for good, and set up shop on a small island in the Bahamas. Once he was all set up, he invited me down to visit, and I obliged.
My first hour in the Bahamas wasn’t a great one. We brought too much camera equipment, the customs official said, and they wanted to deport us for not applying for a license to film commercially. We had two cameras, and a drone. We ended up making a deal with them, where they could keep some of our equipment at the customs office until the end of our trip, and in return, they do not deport us. We had other friends showing up later with equipment too, so we figured we would be fine. Surprisingly they agreed to this.
We rented a car from the only place that had one on the 900-person island and proceeded to drive on the left side of the road till we got to the Exuma Yacht Club, where John McAfee was docked.
John was a local celebrity there and it only took a few moments for someone to point us to where John was docked. Intimidating bodyguards and even more intimidating dogs greeted us and we walked up to Johns Yacht. With barely as much as a hello, John was off to the races talking about politics, cryptocurrency, freedom, his charges that were yet to be announced, and of course his Yacht. Built for a drug lord with lower-level bunkers, multiple bedrooms and decks, and bells and whistles that only a true man of the waters would understand. John was that and more.
Our time in the Bahamas only lasted a few days, but John told stories that encompassed his entire lifetime. From his early days with computers, to the founding of McAfee Antivirus, to what he wanted his legacy to be, John spoke like his life was still completely ahead of him. He had been jailed in nine countries, sued by hundreds of people and companies, bribed police officers and governments around the world, and lived to tell all the stories. John knew charges were coming down the line for him and in light of this, you would think John would slow down a bit, but his foot was on the gas as usual. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t change who you are.
The last thing I heard them talking about as we were leaving, was the logistics of their SUV being flown in by helicopter. Within weeks of our departure, John would be arrested in the Dominican Republic for “traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition, and military-style gear.” Add another country to the list that John has been arrested in. That makes ten….so far.
Surprisingly and yet unsurprisingly, John was released and it was back to business as usual, although this time John got a lot more secretive. We continued to talk, but he would never disclose his location and was generally just more cautious with things. He was moving very often and was more concerned than usual about being monitored. He craved privacy and freedom and naturally, our conversations lead back to cryptocurrency.
Ghost by McAfee is a proof-of-stake privacy coin that was released in the summer of 2020. John was tired of what the industry was selling, and really wanted to put out something reflecting his ideals and values. A real thriving ecosystem of privacy-related products, a private stable coin, and a legacy bearing his name.
Fast forward a few months, and I open my Telegram to see I have way more messages than usual. John McAfee just called me an idiot on Twitter. Wtf…
For the previous few days, John had expressed his concern about the rate of development that was happening with Ghost. The project was only a few months old, and ran on a shoestring budget, but John wanted it to be ready to take on the world now and was not pleased that it wasn’t. John has been known to be very erratic and change his mind on a dime and it seemed like this would be one of those times. Sometimes when John has the gas, and has the matches, he can’t help but to put them to use, and John announced he was leaving the Ghost project…but it wouldn’t be long until he was back.
The community around Ghost is one of the strongest in the industry and John recognized that, and announced he was coming back and will continue to support Ghost.
Soon after the announcement of John’s return to Ghost, an even bigger event happened. John was arrested in Spain on U.S. charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and more. Sadly that makes 11 countries John has been arrested in, and where John still remains today. Although John has been locked in a jail cell in Spain for almost six months, he has continued to support Ghost via tweets from jail, and regularly gets and transmits messages about the development of the project from his wife Janice.
Ghost by McAfee recently announced a partnership with Poltergeistexchange.com for a sidechain named Ghoul on the Ghost blockchain that will allow private cross-chain atomic swaps, a private stable coin, private Ethereum transactions, and more coming this year. John is very pleased that development is moving forward with the vision he believes in, regardless of his personal situation.
A lot of people want to see John McAfee spend the rest of his days in a jail cell. I am not one of those people. They see John’s loud and often brash personality on the internet and immediately take a love or hate position with him. John McAfee is very polarizing and has probably made a lot of mistakes, but I know John McAfee, and he is a good guy. I hope to see the day John and I can meet again…
Like this story? I am releasing a book titled “Ghosted,” with never-before-told stories from my times with John McAfee through the rise and fall of his time in cryptocurrency. From being robbed by the Italian Mafia in Italy in 2018, to being threatened by big cryptocurrency players in 2020, “Ghosted” will take you for an up-close and personal look at the legend that is John McAfee throughout his rise and fall in cryptocurrency. For more information please join the “Ghosted” Telegram group. You can also check out an exclusive collection of never-before-seen footage of John McAfee on the run as NFTs on Rarible.
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