$250 million worth of cryptocurrencies disappeared without a trace. A discreet entrepreneur dies in mysterious circumstances, his associate disappears. Netflix’s new true-crime documentary tells the story of QuadrigaCX founder Gerry Cotten, who disappeared in January 2019. Is Netflix finally revealing the secret behind the dubious king of crypto’s alleged death?
Trending true crime documentaries
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 independent investigation into the disappearance of Gerry Cotten. Because the then only 30-year-old founder disappeared with the keys to countless crypto wallets – and took over US$250 million with him to his alleged grave.
The documentary attempts to penetrate the delicate affair. Because the circumstances raise more and more questions. Around this time, aggrieved creditors of crypto exchange QuadrigaCX gathered in Telegram groups to jointly investigate because the state did not lift a finger. Netflix obtained most of the information for the documentary through extensive online research, interviews with unlikely sleuths, and most importantly, chat logs and forum posts. New ideas? nothing.
Quick cuts, melodramatic music, and dark colors: Netflix-style, the documentary starts out as a blockbuster. The viewer enters the world of cryptography, which is presented in an unoriginal way. Gerry Cotten’s original recordings fade in, the QuadrigaCX stock exchange website appears, numbers scroll up and down. Everything seems a little too dramatic – especially for the fact that the viewer receives hardly any content.
As often, a maintenance partner who wishes to remain anonymous should not be missing. With an oversized mask that Netflix just recently SquidGame-Set, someone in a distorted voice talks about Quadriga’s business model:
They trusted this nondescript little website made up of linked HTML pages. If you remove this veil, there are people behind whom you must trust.
It was precisely this trust in the Bitcoin hype that Cotten and Michael Patryn shamelessly exploited at the time with the help of what is now the largest crypto exchange in Canada. The exchange’s approximately 110,000 clients entrusted Cotten with vast sums of money and assumed that he would profitably invest it in crypto assets.
Gerry’s crypto pyramid scheme
But Cotten was a bad investor and bet. In fact, his stock market was a big Ponzi scheme: profits from previous investors were paid with funds from younger investors. The system tricked the victims into believing that the profits came from legitimate investments. The principle worked well for a long time due to the bitcoin hype. Until the price crashed drastically in 2018 and investors panicked and wanted to sell. QuadrigaCX was no longer able to refund customer debits and the scam threatened to come to light.
Shortly after, Gerry Cotten is said to have died under mysterious circumstances in India. Cause of death: Crohn’s disease. His wife did not report his death on Twitter until a month later. The creditors doubted and even wanted to exhume him. An Indian death certificate raises even more questions:
- Why does the certificate say Cottan and not Cotten?
- Why was there no autopsy?
- where is the corpse
- Who dies of this disease at 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 can’t be answered properly.
What happened to Gerry Cotten?
Conclusion: Interesting documentary with weaknesses
Such an open ending may be unsatisfying for true true crime fans. Nevertheless, the topic should be interesting for crypto enthusiasts, especially because of its topicality. Visually, the director could have gotten more out of it:
The documentary consists mainly of interviews and animations. There just wasn’t a lot of material to create animated scenes due to the subject matter. The stock exchange in the case of QuadrigaCX is not a real, walkable place like Wall Street nor is there any truly tangible loot. It is therefore difficult to film the story, which took place mainly on the Internet.
Nonetheless, it’s fun to watch the documentary, since Sewell went to great lengths to make his film visually varied. Well-acted interviews, re-enacted scenes, lively chat stories and exciting music definitely provide an hour and a half of entertainment. However, the documentary does not offer more than entertainment, as 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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