TL;DR: “No,” Mark Karpelès, embattled then-owner of collapsed exchanged Mt. Gox answered to a request for comment on the barrage of headlines claiming Brock Pierce had purchased it and was set to revive the company. “No purchase agreement was ever even drafted, and the court didn’t approve the [letter of intent]. I didn’t hear of the price until recently either, and Tibanne has no record of any payment for the shares. MtGox official shareholders list doesn’t list Brock Pierce anywhere.” Pierce responded, triggering a social media spat between he and Karpelès, culminating in a live debate challenge.
Mark Karpelès Accuses Brock Pierce of Not Having Agreement to Buy Mt. Gox, No Court Approval
At its height, Mt. Gox processed a majority of bitcoin transactions. It was considered an innovative way to buy, sell, and generally exchange the world’s first cryptocurrency. And then it all came crashing down. In the five years since, creditors and other victims have had quite the saga, pushed and pulled by bankruptcy processes, trustee dumps, and assorted battles for who gets paid first and when, assuming anything is left.
Owner of Gox at the time, Mark Karpelès, was made something of a goat: incompetent, bafoonish, corrupt. Media coverage of his apology was world news, and his traditional Japanese bow to acknowledge mistakes has become a kind of Bitcoin meme, lore.
Enter Brock Pierce. Former child actor. His public relations team fashions him a hippy king, a Burning Man Bitcoin Billionaire. He’s a frequent keynote at major conferences, and is often the public face of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. For a solid few days, especially of late, mainstream and ecosystem news outlets, podcasts, YouTube channels have all run with the headline Pierce purchased or is purchasing Mt. Gox, saving it from legal troubles, with an eye toward making creditors whole by reimagining the exchange — a phoenix rising, as it were.
“‘Since you’ve decided to take this to twitter I am going to litigate the Gox position,’ is what @brockpierce told me word for word a few hours later,” Karpelès continued. “I certainly hope he’s not seriously trying to shut me up calling on disinformation by putting all MtGox creditors in jeopardy.”
Two hours later, Pierce responded in kind, “Mark knows he sold his 88%. He even sent a letter of confirmation asking me to rescind the agreement shortly after signing. I want creditors to receive the entire surplus. Mark is hoping to pocket the $700-800m. Do you trust Karpeles?” Indeed, what the public perception debate appears to ride on are the reputations of both men. Karpelès is widely considered disgraced, and Pierce has something of a cult following that often unnerves more sober enthusiasts.
Karpelès then struck at Pierce’s possible motives for suddenly moving into the conversation about Gox’s future. “There is no ‘surplus’ anymore with Civil Rehabilitation, but if you think there is maybe it explains why you are trying so hard to claim ownership of MtGox,” Karpelès accused.
Pierce is fond of claiming other-than the profit motive for his involvement in ventures, and his work in Puerto Rico, for example, he often cites in interviews and promotion as on the level of benevolence and giving back. “This is not just a new technology,” Pierce has been quoted elsewhere poetically about crypto and blockchain. “This is not just another investment opportunity. We are laying the foundations to save our world. To save our species.”
Challenge to Public Debate
“Aren’t you about to go back to prison?” Pierce asked of Karpelès, continuing the joust and referring to criminal charges filed against Karpelès over mishandling funds and worse in the Gox case. “So you’re agreeing you’re out of arguments on this specific matter?” Karpelès needled.
A leading attorney for Gox creditors, Daniel Kelman, weighed-in on the two men’s argument, “I challenge @brockpierce to a live debate over his claim that this letter-of-intent is a “binding agreement” to purchase MtGox. Please reconsider before wasting creditor assets and delaying pay-outs by suing on this losing argument,” asking readers, “See end of page 2” from a LOI back in 2014 by Sunlot Holdings to purchase what remained of Gox — a full five years before Pierce’s recent media campaign.
The page Kelman refers shows a signature from Karpelès, presumably agreeing to that arrangement at the time, and it appears to be binding. As of publication, Pierce has stopped responding, and has not publicly answered Kelman’s challenge.
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