Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Cryptocurrency Founder Dies With Password to the Bank

A cryptocurrency founder suddenly died, and didn't leave the password to $137 million in assets.

Now people are racing to figure out the password, especially since another $53 million is tied up in legal disputes. If there were any more twists, it would be a movie.

Wait, didn't we see this movie? And why did that guy try to open "The Shining" elevator?!

No Password?!?

If you didn't see "Ready Player One," it's about people competing for a fortune left by a tech founder. He give clues in a virtual world, but the fortune is in the real world.

"The Shining," which holds a key in the story, is Jack Nicholson's scariest movie ever. He ruined late-night with his version of "Here's Johnny!"

Anyway, back to the real horror story. Gerry Cotten, founder of QuadrigaCX, died in December with the company password.

The vast majority of the its cryptocurrency is stored in a cold wallet, which means it is not connected to the internet. It's designed to prevent hacks, which would be a good thing -- except for now.

100,000 Customers

It would be only half bad if the digital currency belonged only to the company, but it also belongs to more than 100,000 customers. That's part of the reason the assets are tied up in court.

Jennifer Roberston, the founder's widow, testified that he stored the cold wallet on an encrypted laptop. He also used an encrypted email account, encrypted messaging system, and other fail-safes. Experts have not been able to crack it, she said.

Normally, that would be comforting to customers who bought in to cryptocurrency. For now, it's a really bad movie.

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