Antivirus pioneer and tech outlaw John McAfee blew his $100 million fortune on “bizarre” mansions and was really broke when he died in a Spanish prison, according to an author who collaborated with him.
Shortly before his death on June 23, McAfee claimed in a tweet that he had no hidden cash and was worth “nothing” – although he had ample reason to hide his wealth, with the US government trying to seize his assets on charges of tax evasion.
In addition to the FBI, the issue of McAfee’s estate is also of concern to his family, including his widow and staunch supporter Janice, who insist his death may not have been a suicide, as Spanish authorities discovered.
Now author Mark Eglinton, who spent six months working on a book with McAfee while on the run from authorities, tells DailyMail.com that he believes McAfee was indeed destitute, citing his personal experience with the outlaw and extensive interviews with him.
Eglinton, whose upcoming book No Domain: The John McAfee Tapes Documenting his extensive interviews with the outlaw, said McAfee was unable to pay what he asked for for the planned collaboration, which will now be written by Eglinton alone.
“I have no doubt that if he could have helped, he would have,” Eglinton said of the modest deposit he’d requested. “He said, ‘I can’t, my financial situation is worse than yours.'”
Antivirus pioneer and tech outlaw John McAfee, who was once worth $100 million, was really broke when he died in a Spanish prison, according to an author who collaborated with him
McAfee is seen with his wife and loyal supporter Janice. The US government tried to confiscate all of his assets, and after his death, questions swirled around his finances
McAfee’s massive $25 million compound in Colorado (above) was sold at auction for just $5.72 million to a Chicago commodities dealer in 2007, when real estate crashed during the recession
Janice McAfee has not responded 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 via Skype for hours beginning in August 2019, when McAfee was on the run, fearing a pending US tax evasion charge, which was unsealed upon his arrest last October.
McAfee’s peak net worth is estimated at around $100 million, most of which comes from the sale of his stake in the antivirus company he founded. McAfee sold its last stake in the company in 1994.
Eglinton vehemently refuted previous reports claiming that McAfee had lost his fortune to poor stock choices during the Great Recession. “We’ve gained a lot of insight over the years into what he spent his money on,” he said.
Eglinton is the author of an upcoming book on McAfee entitled No Domain
“He had his money in very safe investments, but he built houses, absolutely bizarre properties,” said the Scottish author. “Some of them never slept in the property overnight.”
McAfee owned large mansions and buildings in various places in Belize, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii and Tennessee, among others.
He sold some of those properties at a huge loss as real estate values shrank during the Great Recession, perhaps due to liquidity problems.
McAfee’s grounds in Woodland Park, Colorado, for example, included a 10,000-square-foot main building fully furnished with antiques from around the world. It was valued at over $25 million, but was sold at auction in 2007 for just $5.72 million to a Chicago merchant.
Eglinton said McAfee told him ‘The $100 million I got from McAfee’ [Antivirus], that goes very quickly.’
Initially, Eglinton, a veteran biographer and co-author who has previously worked with members of the bands Metallica and Pantera, had suggested writing McAfee’s autobiography as a ghostwriter.
But as the work progressed, he said McAfee couldn’t afford what he’d requested upfront to cover his costs before sealing a book deal. Eglinton declined to say how much he asked, but said it wasn’t a huge amount.
The partnership fell through when McAfee insisted that the publisher pay him in cryptocurrency, refusing to provide an address to send a contract to, Eglinton said.
Eglinton is now the sole author of the book, which is due to be published in December. “What will surprise people about this book is John McAfee’s deep philosophy,” he said.
Faced with a tax evasion investigation that eventually led to his arrest, McAfee had long been hesitant about his finances.
McAfee insisted in one of his latest tweets that he had no hidden assets
In 2014, McAfee sold his 5,800-square-foot beachfront estate on 5.3 acres off Hawaii’s remote Molokai Island, a house that took him seven years to build and a home he never moved to.
In 2008, McAfee retired to this $500,000 Belize compound. It burned down in 2013 after he fled the country when he was wanted for questioning in the murder of his neighbor Greg Faull
McAfee’s Belize property has since been converted into a popular bar called John’s Escape
In recent years, McAfee had reinvented itself as a sort of cryptocurrency guru, speaking at conferences and touting various services.
Federal prosecutors say his crypto boosterism was also part of a fraudulent scheme to pump and dump coins he owned, allegations he denied.
But when the walls came down on McAfee, Eglinton says speaking opportunities dried up, and friends and allies abandoned him, leaving his financial situation extremely precarious.
In one of his latest tweets, McAfee wrote: “The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did, but it has been resolved by the many hands of Team McAfee (your faith is not required), and my remaining assets have all been seized. My friends evaporated for fear of association. I do not have anything. Still, I don’t regret anything.’
Eglinton says he believes McAfee would have at least faked wealth instead of falsely claiming poverty.
“Instead of pretending he didn’t have it, I think he pretended he did,” Eglinton said.
US prosecutors accused McAfee of failing to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018, even though he made millions “promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,” according to an indictment.
McAfee’s last American stronghold was this $399,000 home in Lexington, Tennessee. He can be 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 can be seen above in flight in the Caribbean, in Havana harbor 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 alleged that McAfee was promoting cryptocurrency “initial coin offerings” without disclosing that he received more than $23 million to do so.
The indictment alleged that McAfee hid its assets through complex schemes, including maintaining cryptocurrency accounts under the names of others, as well as 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 chasing assets by suing his estate.
However, in order for the lengthy and certainly complex civil confiscation procedure to proceed, the Spanish authorities must provide a death certificate, which has not been made public so far.
“We have not received the death certificate, official autopsy report or prison record,” McAfee’s widow Janice wrote in a statement on July 7.
“I understand it takes time, but the lack of cooperation from the Spanish authorities only confirms our suspicions that they have something to hide,” she added.