• Mircea Popescu, the enigmatic Bitcoin maximalist, was allegedly discovered dead

  • Mircea Popescu, the founder of Mpex and a Bitcoin evangelist, is said to have drowned off the coast of Costa Rica, adding to the mystery surrounding the man, his alleged bitcoin riches, and what it might imply for the network’s future.

    There was no shortage of controversy for the father of “Bitcoin Toxicity.” The network has apparently lost one of its most enigmatic and contentious individuals of the previous decade, just as the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamato began a dramatic chase for the genuine identity of the person or persons behind Bitcoin.

    Mircea Popescu, a Romanian national and well-known Bitcoin maximalist who threatened to dump over a million bitcoins if block sizes were increased, drowned off the coast of Costa Rica on June 23rd, according to reports. There has been little confirmation of his death, with news outlets initially stating that a Polish national drowned.

    Popescu is a somewhat enigmatic person in the Bitcoin community, with little known about him other from his Trilema blog, support for security-focused open-source initiatives, and commitment to maintaining the Bitcoin network unmodified despite requests for larger block sizes.

    He launched bitcoin exchange Mpex in 2012 after blogging about cryptocurrencies in its early years, which eventually became the subject of a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) inquiry. Eric Voorhees of Romanian-based Mpex mentioned Satoshi DICE, a prominent gambling service that solely accepted bitcoin.

    After the offering was not permitted by the regulator, the listing became a part of the SEC inquiry. Later, Voorhees was penalized and ordered to buy back the listed shares. Popescu became famous for mocking the SEC during the incident, even posting his contact with the enforcement team on his Trilema blog. His quirkiness was on full display as he set out to demolish the SEC’s requests for information concerning Mpex and customer operations and expose the flaws in their reasoning.

    Popescu’s commitment to open-source systems is well-known, despite the fact that little is known about his personal and professional pursuits. Popescu gave $20,000 in 2014 after the non-profit foundation behind the open-source operating system Open BSD, which has been active since the 1990s, came into funding troubles. Mpex used the technology in its platform because of the OS’s security-centric approach and Popescu’s leanings.

    Popescu, who was embroiled in controversy for years, left a trail of quotations and sayings, some of which created a poor picture of the man himself. None of his antics, however, were taken as seriously as his threat to dump a million bitcoins on the market if Bitcoin block sizes were changed (which allegedly happened in 2016), garnering him the moniker “Father of Bitcoin Toxicity.” Segwit2x, a project to double the block size to 2MB, was eventually abandoned, cementing the network’s use of the 1MB block size.

    Despite never being proved, it was assumed that Popescu controlled a million bitcoins, making him the only bitcoin millionaire if true (owner of more than one million coins). This statistic, however, was never verified. However, in light of his apparent death, there were concerns that one million bitcoins could be released into the market, causing values to plummet.

    For the time being, the situation is clouded in uncertainty due to the lack of official confirmation of his death.

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