Is Crypto King Gerry Cotten Really Dead?4 min read
$250 million in cryptocurrencies disappeared without a trace. An inconspicuous entrepreneur dies under mysterious circumstances, his business partner disappears. Netflix‘ new true-crime documentary tells the story of QuadrigaCX founder Gerry Cotten, who disappeared in January 2019. Is Netflix finally revealing the secret of the alleged death of the dubious crypto king?
True crime documentaries in hype
The Netflix streaming platform is constantly expanding its media library with new investigative documentaries and true crime stories. No wonder Netflix director Luke Sewell also joins the autonomous investigation into Gerry Cotten’s disappearance. Because the then just 30-year-old founder disappeared with the keys to countless crypto wallets – and took over 250 million US dollars with him to his alleged grave.
The documentary tries to penetrate the tricky case. Because the circumstances raise more and more questions. At that time, the aggrieved creditors of the crypto exchange QuadrigaCX got together in telegram groups to jointly investigate because the state didn’t lift a finger. Netflix obtained most of the information for the documentary through extensive online research, interviews with the unlikely detectives, and most importantly, chat histories and forum posts. New insights? none.
Fast cuts, melodramatic music and dark colors: In the style of Netflix, the documentary begins like a blockbuster. The viewer enters the crypto world, which is presented in an unoriginal way. Original recordings by Gerry Cotten are faded in, the website of the QuadrigaCX exchange is shown, numbers scroll up and down. Everything seems a bit too dramatic – especially for the fact that the viewer is hardly provided with any content.
As so often, an interview partner who wishes to remain anonymous should not be missing. With an oversized mask that Netflix simply from SquidGame-Set, someone in a distorted voice talks about the Quadriga business model:
They put their trust in this small, nondescript website consisting of linked HTML pages. If you take away that veil, there are people behind who you have to trust.
It was precisely this trust in the BTC hype that Cotten and Michael Patryn shamelessly exploited at the time with the help of what is now Canada’s largest crypto exchange. The approximately 110,000 customers of the exchange entrusted Cotten with vast amounts of money and assumed that he would invest it profitably in crypto assets.
Gerry’s crypto pyramid scheme
But Cotten was a bad investor and gambled away. In fact, his stock market was a big Ponzi scheme: Profits to earlier investors were paid with funds from younger investors. The system tricked victims into believing that profits came from legitimate investments. The principle worked well for a long time due to the BTC hype. Until the price collapsed drastically in 2018 and investors panicked and wanted to sell. QuadrigaCX was no longer able to repay customers’ debits and the scam threatened to be exposed.
Shortly thereafter, Gerry Cotten reportedly died under mysterious circumstances in India. Cause of death: Crohn’s disease. His wife only reported his death on Twitter a month later. The creditors doubted and even wanted to exhume him. A death certificate from India raises even more questions:
- Why does the certificate say Cottan and not Cotten?
- Why wasn’t there an autopsy?
- where is the corpse
- Who dies of this disease at the age of 30?
- Why did Cotten write his will eleven days before his death, in which he transferred all his assets to his wife?
All of these questions are addressed by the documentary, but there are only partial answers.
The big question that the whole documentary is about still cannot be answered properly.
What happened to Gerry Cotten?
Conclusion: Interesting documentary with weaknesses
Such an open ending may be unsatisfactory for true true crime fans. Nevertheless, the topic should be interesting for crypto enthusiasts, also because of its topicality. Visually, the director could have gotten more out of it:
The documentary mainly consists of interviews and animations. There just wasn’t a lot of material to create lively scenes due to the subject. The stock exchange in the case of QuadrigaCX is not a real, walkable place like Wall Street and there is no really tangible loot either. Therefore, it is difficult to film the story, which took place mainly on the Internet.
Nevertheless, it’s fun to watch the documentary, since Sewell went to great lengths to make his film visually varied. Well-staged interviews, re-enacted scenes, animated chat histories and exciting music definitely offer an hour and a half of entertainment. However, the documentary does not offer more than entertainment, because the production team of this documentary does not reveal anything new. Netflix still describes it as an investigative documentary, although the information can also be found online.
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