John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software company who has made headlines many times in the last decade for his legal troubles and presidential runs, was found dead in a jail cell in Spain late Wednesday, hours after a court approved his extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges.
The 75-year-old McAfee was found dead in the Brians 2 prison near Barcelona on Wednesday, as the Associated Press reports via the Spanish newspaper El País. Spain’s National Court had approved McAfee’s extradition to the U.S. earlier in the day, and McAfee faced a possible 30-year sentence for tax evasion charges that related to his work in promoting cryptocurrencies. He had previously pleaded with the court saying that if he were extradited he would spend the rest of his life in an American jail.
Spanish authorities say that the death is under investigation, but all signs point to suicide.
McAfee became a fixture on SFist's pages nearly a decade ago, when he began blogging about his life in Belize and about the murder of a neighbor that he was wanted for questioning for. The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur had wealth that was estimated around $100 million around 2007, but he reportedly lost much of that during the financial crisis, and in 2012, an American neighbor with whom he'd had reported interpersonal conflicts in Belize turned up dead.
Always a colorful character who reveled in attention, McAfee began blogging about his life on the lam and the disguises he was using to escape capture. And he posted videos of himself to social media as well.
McAfee had previously been questioned by police in Belize who accused him of making and possessing meth amphetamine — and his on-screen mania did suggest a possible fondness for uppers, though he claimed he had been sober since the 1980s.
Also, he had a 17-year-old girlfriend at the time.
Then there was this, a video he posted to YouTube in 2013 that's now been viewed over 11 million times, featuring himself as "Eccentric Millionaire" John McAfee satirically explaining how to uninstall his former company's antivirus software — all while an orgy takes shape with multiple scantily clad women.
McAfee would ultimately return to the U.S. and he never faced any charges in Belize — though the family of the dead neighbor did win a wrongful death case against him in a Florida court in 2019. In recent years, he got himself into other sorts of trouble, notwithstanding his announced candidacy for president in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. He was also briefly jailed in the Dominican Republic in 2019 when he and several other men on a yacht were suspected of carrying high-caliber weapons and ammunition — another thing he had long been fond of.
As SFist reported last year following his arrest in Spain, McAfee was accused of concealing promotional income he received for advertising ICOs (initial coin offerings) in the guise of investment advice on his popular Twitter account — the feds said he received $23 million for that work. Also, the federal indictment against McAfee said he had failed to file a tax return between 2014 and 2018, despite earning "millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary."
Also, allegedly, he had been attempting to conceal his income by purchasing real estate and a yacht in other people's names.
Throughout the years of various accusations against him, McAfee was always quick to frame his story in grand and philosophical terms.
Last week, McAfee wrote on Twitter, "In a democracy, power is given not taken. But it is still power. Love, compassion, caring have no use for it. But it is fuel for greed, hostility, jealousy... All power corrupts. Take care which powers you allow a democracy to wield."
And as his wife, Janice McAfee, wrote last fall after his arrest, "Regardless of whatever John may or may not have done, he has spent most of his retirement fighting not only for his own freedom, but everyone's freedom, in America and across the world. Now more than ever he needs your support... in this battle against injustice."
McAfee also said on Twitter last week, "The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing."
Also, this is the last video he made, discussing the nature of the human species, and how power gets used by our tendencies toward greed, envy and anger.
Why power corrupts. pic.twitter.com/cwbKHcaQsd— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) June 17, 2020
In May, he waxed philosophical about what had been taken from him in the last year, and about his ongoing imprisonment.
"I once had everything. After uncountable lawsuits and the reach of the FED's I now have nothing," he wrote. "But inside these prison bars I have never felt more free. The things you believe you own, in reality own you."
I once had everything.— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) May 23, 2021
After uncountable lawsuits and the reach of the FED's I now have nothing.
But inside these prison bars I have never felt more free.
The things you believe you own, in reality own you.