Widow of Cryptocurrency CEO Saw Her Own Riches Vanish

Jennifer Robertson details the aftermath of Quadriga CEO Gerald Cotten's death
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2022 2:45 PM CST
Widow of Cryptocurrency CEO Got Labeled 'Dead Jen Walking'
An advertisement for Bitcoin cryptocurrency is displayed on a street in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Some of her late husband's friends messaged Jennifer Robertson on WhatsApp to ask why she hadn't told them he died, and to get details on where the funeral was. Except they weren't Gerald Cotten's friends. In a piece adapted for the Walrus from her book Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal and the Missing Millions, Robertson talks to the Walrus about the fallout from her husband's death. Cotten, the 30-year-old CEO of what was then Canada's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, died in India from complications of Crohn's disease in December 2018; the passcodes to most of the $190 million of Quadriga clients' funds died with him. Then the doubters and the trolls emerged.

Speculation ran the gamut: Cotten faked his death. Robertson murdered Cotten. The online messages were frightening. "I'm going to take one for the team and kill jen," read one; another suggested she be crucified. She was dubbed "Dead Jen Walking" on Reddit and was forced to move after photos of her homes appeared online. Yes, homes: The couple lived a life of luxury, and "I won't lie: I loved being rich," Robertson writes. She wouldn't stay that way for long. Robertson details the financial fallout for her: She had been left with about $12 million in assets, and proposed to the monitor appointed by the court after Quadriga sought creditor protection that she keep $5 million, largely in the form of rental properties tied to the residential property management company she built with Cotten's capital. That didn't fly. (Read the full excerpt, which goes into detail on what she got to keep.)

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