The Decline of a Lifestyle Guru: Divorce, Unfollowers, and a Lost Lamborghini

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.

News

The Media Industry’s ongoing struggle to stay relevant in a digital age

The career of Roger Fidler exemplifies a warning: Sometimes, you can predict the future but still fall victim to it. Three decades ago, Mr. Fidler was a media executive promoting a vision of the future for newspapers. The rise of digital technology would allow for news to be accessed on portable devices all day long, […]

Read More
News

The Continuous Decline of the Media Industry: A Losing Battle against the Future

Roger Fidler has had a front-row seat to the digital revolution in the newspaper industry. Thirty years ago, he was advocating for the future of newspapers as portable digital devices that would offer multimedia content to readers. While his vision has largely come to fruition with people constantly online and engaged with news, traditional media […]

Read More
News

Biden Takes Action to Limit Sale of Personal Data to China and Russia

President Biden will issue an executive order to restrict the sale of American data to China, Russia, and four other countries in an effort to protect sensitive information from being used for malicious purposes. The order aims to prevent personally identifying data, such as locations, health records, and genetics, from being obtained by these countries […]

Read More