Patrick M. Byrne launched Overstock in 1999, an e-commerce store similar to Amazon that has grown into a company with $1.8 billion of annual revenue and over $400 million of assets. Notably, Overstock became the first major retailer to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments in January 2014. Also, Overstock has made $175 million of investments into crypto and blockchain projects including security tokens trading platform tZero.

Indeed, Byrne is a Bitcoin (BTC) enthusiast and has made numerous public speeches on the topic of cryptocurrency. In fact, Byrne’s encounter with a Russian spy started at FreedomFest 2015, where Byrne gave the speech “Turtles All the Way Down: How the Crypto-Revolution Solves Intractable Problems on Wall Street.”

After the speech, Maria Butina, who claimed to be the President of a gun-rights group in Russia, met Byrne for the first time. After a couple of conversations, Butina told Byrne that she was being groomed by the most powerful oligarchs in Russia to become the President of Russia, and her goal was to impose liberal ideals in Russia, uniting Russia with the Western World. 

Then Butina invited Byrne to speak at the Central Bank in Moscow on the topic of Bitcoin (BTC) and Liberalism. 

At this point, Byrne disclosed all the details of his conversations with Butina to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and asked if he should go to Russia with her or cut her out of his life. 

Apparently, Byrne had worked with the FBI twice before. In the first incident, Byrne’s friend Brian Williams was murdered and Byrne helped bring the killer to justice. In the second incident, Byrne claims to have played a major role in the indictment of 200 Wall Street executives who were participating in fraudulent trading practices such as naked short selling that helped bring about the 2008 Great Recession. 

Byrne says that an FBI agent called him one day and said,Patrick, the Bureau wishes to thank you for what you have done. It is almost unprecedented. You are going to see handcuffs come out this week. You need to live the rest of your life knowing that everyone you see us arrest suspects your fingerprints are on his problems.” 

Byrne was ready to be an FBI informant for a third time. The FBI indicated that it wanted Byrne to go on a trip to meet Butina, but it was not entirely clear. Byrne sent the message, “Not wanting to get in a hassle with the U.S. government, I am not going to meet Maria again unless I hear the word greenlight,” and the FBI supposedly texted back greenlight

After that, Byrne had an affair with Butina from September 2015 through March 2016. During this time, Butina often talked of her connections with American political circles, and she attempted to infiltrate the Hillary, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump campaigns. 

Byrne says he continuously gave information to the FBI, but they took no action. For example, Byrne knew that Butina was going to personally meet Donald Trump Jr., but the FBI told Byrne to let it happen. This caused Byrne to suspect that the government was letting this political infiltration get worse just so they could start a scandal at a time of their choosing in the future. 

Butina then invited Byrne to personally meet President Putin of Russia, at which point the FBI told Byrne to get Butina out of his life to avoid danger. 

Eventually, it was revealed in court that Butina was in fact the assistant to a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia, and in this role, Butina coordinated to infiltrate the United States’ political system. Butina pretended to be a guns right advocate in order to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Republican Party. Butina then used her reputation as a representative of the Russian Federation, a grad student, a journalist, and as a connection between Team Trump and Russia to gain high-level contacts in Washington D.C. 

Ultimately, Butina was charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Attorney General and was sentenced to 18 months in prison

Butina’s case was part of the larger ‘Russiagate’ scandal, which was a nationwide controversy over Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential elections. Essentially, Russian operatives stole information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign and released this damaging information on platforms like WikiLeaks, which may have impacted the outcome of the election. In total, 26 Russian operatives and three Russian organizations were indicted in connection with Russiagate. 

Byrne eloquently describes Butina and the Russiagate scandal: “Vladimir Putin is living rent-free in your brain, America. No one is denying that he and his people performed mischief (though whether Maria was related to that or not, and if so, how wittingly, is another question). It was hybrid warfare, of which Putin is a master, and yes, he did it to us… Putin had sown enough charges into enough corners here so that whoever had won, Putin was going to be able to pull a trigger and cause an uproar here. He would get us all chasing our and each others’ tails, no matter who won.”

Byrne says he came out with all of this information because the country is being destroyed by the ‘Deep State,’ and staying silent would be the wrong thing to do. 

According to Byrne, the Deep State began to form 30-40 years ago when political appointees charged with overseeing various agencies and departments began to get jobs in the organizations they were in charge of monitoring after their term ended, rather than go into a different line of work to prevent centralization of power. 

Basically, political appointees are picked by the President and are usually highly political people with allegiance to the Republican or Democratic party. Now, these highly political people have taken over the government’s agencies and departments according to Byrne.

“The (effect) this has had on our federal government cannot be overstated,” he said. “It has been politicized from the top down so that the political class is not just providing oversight of the department brass, but they have gone on to melt-in and become the department brass. This is horrific institutional design and generates pernicious organizational dynamics.”

Back to Russiagate: Essentially, Byrne believes that the Deep State allowed the Russian conspiracy to continue and selectively allowed certain people to be damaged rather than handling the problem immediately. 

Apparently the incident with Butina damaged Byrne’s reputation, resulting in Overstock not being able to get corporate insurance with Byrne as the CEO. Also, Byrne claims that the Deep State is coming after him due to his involvement with Butina and subsequent disclosure of information to the public, and if he stayed at Overstock, the Deep State would try to cripple him by attacking Overstock. 

“You think me controversial now, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. I know enough to fry the Deep State to ashes,”Byrne explains. “The Deep State and the oligarchy are entwined, and they won’t die quietly. There is going to be an enormous amount of return fire directed at me… If I had stayed at Overstock or even remained a large owner of OSTK, they would try to break Overstock as a way of crippling me. With me no longer an executive, a board member, or even a shareholder, it becomes pointless for them to try to get at me that way.”

Byrne stepped down from being the CEO of Overstock, and a few weeks later sold his 4.7 million shares worth somewhere around $90 million. The price of Overstock’s stock, OSTK, experienced extreme volatility around this time, rising from $15 on Sept. 3 to $27 on Sept. 12, before declining to below $10 after Byrne announced that he was resigning and had dumped all of his stock. 

Byrne expects that the economy will eventually crash, and to prepare for this, Byrne invested the money from selling his stocks into gold, silver, and two undisclosed cryptocurrencies. As for where this money will be stored, Byrne said, “The gold and silver are stored outside of the United States, in Switzerland, and within two weeks, will be scattered in other locations that are even more outside of the reach of the Deep State, but are places that are safe for me. The crypto is stored in the place where all crypto is stored: in mathematical mist, behind long keys held only in the memory of someone who is quite good at storing such things in memory (with paper backups in the hands of a priest I met 35 years ago who never sets foot in the West).”

If the economy crashes, Byrne tells Overstock investors not to worry since, in that case, Byrne expects the value of his precious metals and crypto to skyrocket, and then that money can be injected into Overstock. 

Essentially, Byrne is saying that dumping the stocks for precious metals and crypto was part of a masterplan to save Overstock from an impending economic crisis. 

Byrne has now not only taken his money but also himself well out of the reach of the Deep State and is supposedly sailing a boat around obscure parts of Indonesia. It can’t be known for sure where Byrne is or where he is going, but Byrne is at least still posting on his website Deep Capture

Byrne’s story brings to mind John McAfee, a crypto influencer and in general infamous celebrity who recently fled the United States since he thought the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was coming after him due to not paying taxes for years. McAfee sailed his boat all over the Caribbean, while having numerous incidents, until eventually ending up somewhere in Europe. 

It is up for debate as to whether Byrne’s or McAfee’s story is more captivating, but in any case, there are now two rich crypto influencers somewhere in the world who have fled the United States after highly public incidents. 

So ends the wild tale of Overstock Founder Patrick Byrne — at least for now.