John McAfee, who made a name and fortune for himself through his eponymous antivirus software, died of an apparent suicide in a Barcelona prison Wednesday at the age of 75. The brash software pioneer had cashed out of his company in the mid-1990s, embarking on a life of lawlessness and hedonism, courting legal trouble as he bounced around the world. McAfee was ultimately arrested in October 2020 after arriving in Spain and had been held ever since in connection to tax charges in the U.S. McAfee was also indicted in the U.S. earlier this year on separate fraud and money laundering charges. McAfee’s death comes just hours after a Spanish court agreed to extradite him to the U.S. to face the tax charges that could have meant living out the rest of his life behind bars.
McAfee spent much of the last decade of his life on the run from the law. After decamping to Belize, in 2012 he was wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of his neighbor with whom he had had a dispute. The neighbor died shortly after poisoning McAfee’s dogs. McAfee was named as a suspect but never charged with a crime in Belize. In 2019, he was ordered by a Florida court to pay $25 million wrongful death claim to the murdered neighbor’s estate. The troubled tech entrepreneur’s legal troubles continued: He was deported from Guatemala for entering the country illegally and later arrested in the Dominican Republic on suspicion of carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear on a yacht. McAfee spent time in Montreal, Canada working on a documentary about his life that included two longshot third party bids for U.S. president.
McAfee courted mayhem and madness, unrepentantly swerving between scandal and swindle until the very end. “[T]he Securities and Exchange Commission sued McAfee for a ‘pump and dump scheme’ in which he allegedly made $23 million in undisclosed compensation by pushing cryptocurrencies on his Twitter page,” NPR notes. “McAfee took pride in outwitting authorities. He once boasted about eluding police by dressing as a German tourist in a Speedo and another time as an angry homeless man.”
“This is again the U.S. government trying to erase John McAfee. And that’s what it’s always going to be,” a lawyer for McAfee said of the SEC charges. “This man was a fighter. And in the minds of everyone who knew him, he will always be a fighter.”