John McAfee's Tumultuous Life

Legal Article

John McAfee's Tumultuous Life

John McAfee, born in England on September 18th, 1945, reportedly died of suicide in a Barcelona prison on June 23rd, 2021, hours after the Spanish National Court ordered his extradition to the United States. Before his death, it is estimated that at its peak, McAfee accumulated more than a $100 million fortune from his real estate holdings and the popular antivirus software—McAfee.

McAfee’s Early Life

Though McAfee was born in England, it is widely reported that he was raised in Salem, Virginia by an American father and a British mother. During a 2013 profile, McAfee stated that his father worked as a road surveyor and his mother as a bank teller. McAfee received a bachelor’s in mathematics from Roanoke College in Virginia in 1967 and was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2008 from his alma mater.

After graduating from Roanoke, McAfee worked for many companies including Lockheed Corp. where he focused on computers and software. Though working full-time, McAfee still found time to focus on multiple of his own business endeavors which mainly focused on technology.

McAfee Associates

In 1987, McAfee founded McAfee Associates, the coveted antivirus software out of his converted farmhouse. During its early days, the antivirus company gave individuals the service for free and charged corporations a few dollars per computer.

McAfee Associates found success with its offerings, and during October 1992, the company completed an initial public offering of shares. However, shortly after going public, Mr. McAfee stepped down as chief executive and eventually severed his ties with the company.

After leaving McAfee Associates, Mr. McAfee bought real estate in Colorado, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico and founded multiple other companies. The most prominent of which was an instant-messaging company, Tribal Voice Inc., though he later sold his shares in the venture. In addition to focusing his time on real estate and tech companies, McAfee also wrote four books on yoga and offered seminars on the topic.

Though Mr. McAfee was worth over $100 million at his peak, it was reported that his fortune dwindled to a mere $4 after the 2008 financial crisis. Shortly after seeing his fortune decline, McAfee moved to Belize to build a compound and told interviewers he was backing research to find natural antibiotics in the rainforest. In 2012, Belize authorities sought to question McAfee over the death of his neighbor, Gregory Faull. Though McAfee denied having any involvement in the murder, he soon fled to Guatemala.

McAfee was later deported to the U.S. but not charged with a crime over Gregory Faull’s death. However, in 2019, a federal judge did order McAfee to pay $25 million in a wrongful-death suit brought by Mr. Faull’s estate, a judgment Mr. McAfee railed against.

Though McAfee lived a tumultuous life, the most prominent crime he committed was tax evasion. In the Tennessee federal court, authorities alleged that McAfee did not file or pay taxes from 2014 – 2018 despite earning millions of dollars from consulting, public speaking, selling the rights to his life story, and promoting cryptocurrencies.

Before his death last week, McAfee spent the past eight months incarcerated in Spain—though he continued to post regular Twitter messages to his roughly one million followers.