Antivirus software creator John McAfee's net worth had plummeted to a relatively modest $4 million when he died in a Spanish prison in June last year, according to Celebrity Net Worth, which tracks the wealth and finances of the rich and famous.
McAfee, who founded global security software company McAfee in 1987, hanged himself in his prison cell after the Spanish high court authorised his extradition to the US on tax evasion charges, his lawyer, Javier Villalba, told Reuters.
More than a year after his death, McAfee is back in the spotlight after streaming platform Neflix released a true crime documentary this week about his fugitive life.
Running With the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee features interviews with the technology entrepreneur and tracks his life on the run after he fled Belize in 2012 following the shooting death of his neighbour Gregory Faull.
How did McAfee lose his fortune?
At the height of his wealth, the UK-born technology pioneer was worth more than $100m after he resigned as chief executive of McAfee in 1994 and sold his stock holdings in the business.
But a combination of bad investments, the global financial crisis in 2008-09 and increasing legal troubles, during which he went on the run from US authorities for years, caused his net worth to plummet.
“A series of bad investments, including a large bet on Lehman Brothers' bonds, cost McAfee millions and forced him to sell real estate and other assets for pennies on the dollar,” Celebrity Net Worth said.
Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in the 2008 global financial crisis.
“McAfee sold a $25m Colorado estate for just $5.7m. He also sold a mansion in Hawaii, a ranch in New Mexico and a Cessna private jet,” it added.
Were any of McAfee's assets seized?
A week before his death, McAfee, who worked for Nasa, Xerox and Lockheed Martin before launching his antivirus software company, tweeted from prison that he had nothing left as the US authorities had seized his assets.
“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,” McAfee said on Twitter on June 16 last year.
“I have nothing. Yet I regret nothing,” he added.
When was McAfee arrested?
McAfee's years on the run came to an end when he was arrested at Barcelona airport on October 3, 2020, as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, after being charged with tax evasion in Tennessee and cryptocurrency fraud in New York, Reuters reported.
"An indictment was unsealed today charging John David McAfee with tax evasion and wilful failure to file tax returns" Richard E. Zuckerman, the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the US Justice Department's tax division, said in a statement on October 5, 2020.
“John McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,” he added.
“From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources.”
McAfee allegedly evaded his tax liability by directing his income to be paid into bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts in the names of nominees, while he concealed assets, including property, a vehicle and a yacht in the names of others, prosecutors said.
Despite admitting he'd avoided paying taxes because they were "illegal", McAfee remained defiant, saying in his final tweet on June 18 last year: "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."
McAfee, whose father also died by suicide when he was 15, is survived by his wife, Janice McAfee.