Antivirus pioneer and tech outlaw John McAfee blew his $100 million fortune on ‘bizarre’ mansions and really was broke when he died in a Spanish prison, according to an author who collaborated with him.
Soon before his death on June 23, McAfee claimed in a tweet that he had no hidden cash and was worth ‘nothing’ — though he had ample reason to conceal his wealth, with the US government seeking to seize his assets on charges of tax evasion.
In addition to the feds, the question of McAfee’s estate is also of interest to his family, including his widow and staunch supporter Janice, who insists that his death may not have been a suicide, as Spanish authorities found.
Now, author Mark Eglinton, who collaborated with McAfee on a book for six months while he was on the run from authorities, tells DailyMail.com that he believes McAfee was indeed penniless, citing his personal experience with the outlaw and extensive interviews with him.
Eglinton, whose upcoming book No Domain: The John McAfee Tapes documents his extensive interviews with the outlaw, said that McAfee was unable to pay what he requested for the planned collaboration, which will now be authored by Eglinton solely.
‘I don’t doubt that if he could have helped he would have,’ Eglinton said of the modest advance fee he requested. ‘He said, “I can’t do it, my financial situation is worse than yours.”‘
Antivirus pioneer and tech outlaw John McAfee, once worth $100 million, really was broke when he died in a Spanish prison, according to an author who collaborated with him
McAfee is seen with his wife and staunch supporter Janice. The US government was seeking to seize any of his assets, and questions have swirled around his finances after his death
McAfee’s massive $25 million compound in Colorado (above) sold at auction for a mere $5.72 million to a Chicago commodities trader in 2007, as real estate crashed in the recession
Janice McAfee did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com about her late husband’s estate, and his legal plans for the estate have not been made public.
Eglinton said he interviewed McAfee for countless hours over Skype starting in August of 2019, when McAfee was on the run, fearing a pending US indictment on charges of tax evasion, which was unsealed upon his arrest last October.
McAfee’s peak net worth is estimated at about $100 million, with the bulk coming from the sale of his stake in the antivirus company he founded. McAfee sold off his final stake in the company in 1994.
Eglinton strongly refuted prior reports claiming that McAfee lost his fortune on bad stock picks during the Great Recession. ‘We got a lot into where he spent his money over the years,’ he said.
Eglinton is the author of an upcoming book about McAfee, titled No Domain
‘He had his money in very safe investments, but he built houses, absolutely bizarre properties,’ the Scottish author said. ‘Some of them, he never slept a night in the property.’
McAfee owned, at various points, large mansions and compounds in Belize, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii and Tennessee, among other locations.
He sold some of those properties at a tremendous loss as property values contracted in the Great Recession, perhaps due to liquidity issues.
McAfee’s compound in Woodland Park, Colorado, for example, included a 10,000-square-foot main house that was fully furnished with antiques from around the world. It was valued at more than $25 million but sold at auction for a mere $5.72 million to a Chicago commodities trader in 2007.
Eglinton said McAfee told him: ‘The $100 million I got out of McAfee [Antivirus], that goes very quickly.’
Initially, Eglinton, an experienced biographer and co-author who has previously worked with members of the bands Metallica and Pantera, had proposed to ghost-write McAfee’s autobiography.
But as the work proceeded, he says McAfee was unable to pay what he requested in advance money to cover his costs prior to sealing a book deal. Eglinton declined to say how much he requested, but said it was not a large amount.
The collaboration fell through when McAfee insisted that the publisher pay him in cryptocurrency, and refused to provide an address for them to mail a contract, according to Eglinton.
Eglinton is now the sole author of the book, slated for publication in December. ‘What will surprise people about this book is the deep philosophy of John McAfee, he said.
McAfee, facing investigation for the tax evasion charges that ultimately resulted in his arrest, had long been cagey about his finances.
McAfee insisted in one of his final tweets that he did not have any hidden assets
McAfee in 2014 sold his 5,800 square foot beachfront estate on 5.3 acres of Hawaii’s secluded Molokai Island, a home that took him seven years to build and one that he never moved into
In 2008, McAfee retreated to this $500,000 compound in Belize. It burned down in 2013, after he fled the country when sought for questioning in the murder of his neighbor Greg Faull
McAfee’s property in Belize has since been rebuilt as a popular bar called John’s Escape
In recent years, McAfee had reinvented himself as something of a cryptocurrency guru, speaking at conferences and touting different services.
Federal prosecutors say his crypto boosterism was also part of a fraudulent scheme to pump and dump coins that he held, charges that he denied.
But as the walls closed in on McAfee, Eglinton says that speaking opportunities dried up, and friends and allies deserted him, leaving his financial situation extremely precarious.
In one of his final tweets, McAfee wrote: ‘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.’
Eglinton says that he believes that, if anything, McAfee would have faked wealth rather than falsely claiming penury.
‘Rather than pretend he didn’t have it, I think he was pretending he did,’ Eglinton said.
US prosecutors accused McAfee of failing to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018 even as he earned millions from ‘promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,’ according to an indictment.
McAfee’s final US stronghold was this $399,000 home in Lexington, Tennessee. He is seen above with wife Janice and their dog in 2016
Court documents allege that McAfee owed the IRS more than $4.2 million in back taxes. He is seen above on the run in the Caribbean, at port in Havana in 2019
Court documents allege that he owed the IRS more than $4.2 million in back taxes.
Separately, a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint claimed that McAfee promoted ‘initial coin offerings’ of cryptocurrency without disclosing that he was paid more than $23 million to do so.
The indictment alleged that McAfee hid his assets through complex schemes, including maintaining cryptocurrency accounts under other people’s names, and also hiding real estate and yachts under the names of others.
Now that McAfee is dead, the criminal case against him will be dropped, but the government can continue to chase after assets by suing his estate.
However, for the lengthy and surely complex civil forfeiture action to proceed, Spanish authorities will need to provide a death certificate, which so far has not been publicly produced.
‘We have not received the death certificate, the official autopsy report or the official report from the prison,’ McAfee’s widow Janice wrote in a statement on July 7.
‘I understand that things take time but the lack of cooperation from the Spanish authorities only confirms our suspicions that they have something to hide,’ she added.