The silver Lamborghini Huracán Performante was the stuff of teenage fantasy: $350,000 of aerodynamic metals and lightweight upholstery, packed into a taut and powerful body. Ben Armstrong, a cryptocurrency evangelist with more than one million YouTube subscribers, loved it dearly. When he started shopping for a Lamborghini, Mr. Armstrong worried that he’d have to spend months searching. “I think I have to go to Italy to get the Lambo I want,” he texted a business partner. “I don’t want to compromise.” But fate smiled on him. In the fall of 2021, a car dealership in Charlotte, N.C., shipped the Huracán to Mr. Armstrong’s production studio in an Atlanta suburb. As the Lamborghini was lowered from a delivery truck, Mr. Armstrong, better known by the nom de crypto BitBoy, let out a joyful laugh. “I may have shed a tear,” he said at the time. Back then, BitBoy was one of the most popular figures in the wild, scam-ridden world of crypto influencers. Two years later, Mr. Armstrong, 41, has lost his production company and much of his wealth. His friends have turned on him, and his wife has filed for divorce. Over the last five months, across countless social media posts and videos, Mr. Armstrong has claimed to be the victim of a “criminal conspiracy” by “terrorists” who took over his YouTube channel. In the good times, BitBoy’s rise to YouTube stardom was propelled by the same cultural forces that turned crypto into a multitrillion-dollar sensation. During the pandemic, Mr. Armstrong upgraded to a professional studio and hired a small staff to produce slick, professionally edited videos. His investment portfolio was surging: At the market’s peak, he has said, he had about $40 million of crypto. If crypto is the Wild West of finance, then crypto influencers inhabit the wildest stretch of that frontier. But while fans would mob him at industry conferences, Mr. Armstrong was often criticized for promoting coins that crashed in value and accepting payments from crypto companies, including one sponsorship he admitted wasn’t properly disclosed. As the crypto market cratered in 2022, Mr. Armstrong pivoted to an unlikely new persona — cop on the beat. After FTX folded that November, Mr. Armstrong flew to the Bahamas with a camera crew and tried to sneak around Mr. Bankman-Fried’s luxury apartment complex there. “Ben lost track of the person he used to be,” Mr. Shedd, his former business partner, said in a statement. “He caused enormous damage to both his professional and personal relationships.” Last spring, as the crypto market struggled to rebound, Mr. Armstrong started promoting a new cryptocurrency, BEN Coin, which he was developing with Cassandra Wolfe, a HIT Network contractor known on social media as the Duchess of DeFi. During a September lawsuit, Mr. Shedd accused Mr. Armstrong of “unlawfully directing and diverting” as much as $50,000 a month to Ms. Wolfe, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
The Decline of a Lifestyle Guru: Divorce, Unfollowers, and a Lost Lamborghini
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