Bitcoin, bros, and boats: An obsession explained

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Since Bitcoin’s beginning, countless crypto enterprises have come and gone. Industry bigwigs have blossomed, wigged out, fallen from grace, and sometimes even risen from the ashes. But no matter the year, one thing has remained constant: Bitcoin’s boat obsession.

Every crypto mogul worth their salt is really into boats. And we’re talking big boats. Yachts. Cruiseliners. Catamarans.

So, if you don’t know crypto’s historic relationship with big-ass boats, here are a few tales you need to know.

The infamous CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise

A lot went down in just four days on the Mediterranean, where the Bitcoin bros and billionaires of 2018 convened.

Touted as an intimate event to join talks, workgroups, and keynotes on cryptocurrency, it was really just a mind-numbing booze cruise.

Breaker Mag’s Penny Lane gave us a gem of an article. In it, she explains what it’s like to be trapped in a steel box with Bitcoin’s nouveau riche while its price tanked.

In a nutshell:

  • Many beautiful women were paid to be on board. Their job? Undisclosed.
  • CoinsBank gave out free socks that read “A Man is Always Right.”
  • Welcome gift boxes in each room, containing painkillers, condoms, a pregnancy test, and a bottle of Jägermeister.
  • Samurai swords.
  • An “ideological soup of starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters,” Lane wrote.

“You can tell a lot about someone’s politics from the parties they throw. For a lot of the men on this floating shindig, […] freedom simply means freedom from consequences,” Lane tells us in her article.

Almost everyone who was anyone in 2018’s Bitcoin community was on this boat.

“Satoshi was a woman,” child actor Brock Pierce boldly announced during his talk onboard. “This does not go down as well as he hoped,” Lane reported.

The late John McAfee and investor Roger Ver were there, too. The booze cruise gave us a special piece of Bitcoin history: a horror show debate between Ver and developer Jimmy Song.

It takes about ten minutes for it to devolve into a playground-worthy exchange of blows.

Here’s a promo for the Mediterranean leg of the crypto cruise

Michael Saylor’s offshore shenanigans

MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor is a yacht-loving Bitcoin cheerleader. The company acquires and holds as much BTC as it possibly can.

The strategy works. Saylor sold billions in corporate bonds to stockpile the world’s first crypto. That’s more than any other public company combined.

Microstrategy held 108,991 BTC last time we checked. At press time, that’s worth $6.4 million.

The company now holds over 114,000 BTC. But that figure pales in comparison to the amount splurged on Saylor’s other shiny collection — big-ass boats.

Read more: [MicroStrategy now holds more than $1.6B in Bitcoin]

Turns out the Microstrategy leader has spent about $69.5 million on just three.

Saylor bought the Italian-made Azimut for $3 million in 2007, two years before Satoshi Nakamoto unleashed Bitcoin to the public.

Only a year after purchasing the 20-meter yacht, Saylor the sailor splurged again. The Bitcoin bro dropped $35 million on a boat over twice the length of the Azimut.

At just shy of 45 meters, the Harle was apparently used to host fancy parties at the Cannes film festival.

But when it comes to the impressive length of Saylor’s vessels, nothing comes close to his most recent purchase, the Usher.

The 154-foot superyacht takes its name from a piece of MicroStrategy software rather than the Yeah singer.

The $31.5 million yacht, however, has a different claim to fame. The 2015 film Entourage used it as a set for a boat party scene. 

A one-week cruise in the Bahamas, Florida, or New England aboard Usher will set you back nearly $180,000 (that’s 3.12 BTC by the way).

Boats over boardrooms: Saylor sails away

Fast forward to 2014. Saylor has been enjoying his boats to the max. Perhaps a little too much.

His shareholders begin to feel neglected. In a letter demanding his resignation as CEO, hedge fund investors Apex Capital — who own around 5% of MicroStrategy at the time — say Saylor’s neglecting his duties.

This video tour is the closest you’ll get to Harle’s sun deck

“The recent stream of photos of Mr. Saylor’s yachts in exotic locations […] does little to assuage our fears that the company’s senior management is not fully engaged in the day-to-day operations of the business or agonizing over inferior shareholder returns,” said a top exec at the $1.3 billion fund. 

At this point, Microstrategy hadn’t begun buying up all the Bitcoin it can find — that wouldn’t be until August 2020.

The offending Tweet that angered Apex Capital.

The Satoshi: Failed independent floating nation powered by Bitcoin

The Satoshi is a crusty cruise ship with a rich history worth knowing. From Margaret Thatcher to swine flu, it’s truly seen some shit.

In October 2020, Satoshi held the name Pacific Dawn. The owners, P&O, decided to kick her off the fleet when the cruise industry went into hibernation as a result of the pandemic.

Luckily, she was bought for $9.5 million by duo Grant Romundt and Chad Elwartowski and their company Ocean Builders. Their vision? Turn the thirty-year-old vessel into a small village powered by crypto.

Apartments were even offered for sale on their website, which promised to house anyone looking to live outside country jurisdiction.

Shockingly, things didn’t pan out.

Pacific Dawn image courtesy of Roderick Eime. Shared under CC BY 2.0

The timeline was tight. The first auctions for a cabin aboard Satoshi were set for November. Move-ins were scheduled to begin by January.

However, by December of the same year, the Satoshi headed for the scrap yard. Ocean Builders abandoned the project reportedly due to “insurance issues.” Apparently, no one wants to bear the burden of overboard blockchain bros. 

However, it’s a happy ending to this boat’s story. Now, under the name Ambience, she will be the “first new UK cruise line in a decade.”

New owners Ambassador to put her into service in early 2022.

For the full and colorful history of Satoshi, check out this Protos article.

Quadriga CX and the mysterious death of Canada’s crypto king

Gerald Cotten was once known as the founder of Quadriga CX, Canada’s largest crypto exchange. He passed away mysteriously in December 2018.

For the uninitiated, the story goes Cotten died of Crohn’s disease at the age of 30. But he was apparently the only person with the private keys to cold storage wallets holding the majority of his customer’s crypto.

Cotten took the passwords to his alleged grave.

But an April 2020 investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission quickly revealed that QuadrigaCX was “an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in modern technology.

Among Cotten’s shady business transactions, $600,000 was spent on a 51-foot yacht called The Gulliver. It boasted a pink and cream interior, three cabins, and a dining room.

Could The Gulliver have been Cotten’s getaway vessel? (via The Globe and Mail)

The company who sold the yacht to Cotten told Vanity Fair he wanted something he could sail to the Caribbean without the need to stop in the US or Canada.

Ready to set sail?

The connection between Bitcoin and boats is clear, splurging on a yacht or clubbing together for a crypto cruise is how many decide to spend their newfound digital wealth.

But before you do, take note of some of the cautionary tales of the ones who have sailed before you.

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