Who is Calvin Ayre? A Deep Dive into Craig Wright's Billionaire Sugar Daddy
Who is Calvin Ayre?
Calvin Ayre is a shady Canadian billionaire who rose to fame in the early 2000s. After years of running his gambling enterprise, he became the sugar daddy of Craig Wright, the biggest con artist in the crypto space. Wright has famously masqueraded as Satoshi Nakamoto since 2015, earning him the title of "Faketoshi."
While there are other Faketoshis like Jurgen Debo, no individual comes remotely close to the level of fraud perpetuated by Wright and his minions. Today, I will take a deep dive into Ayre's criminal past, to better understand his newest crypto scams, which include CoinGeek and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV).
Calvin Ayre was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada on May 25, 1961. His parents owned a sprawling farm, and he took care of baby pigs at a young age. He first learned how to be an entrepreneur here, eventually keeping some of his parents' profit when they sold the animals. This is likely his most honest business activity ever, since everything from here on had at least one shady element.
Ayre described his father as his "number one hero." As such, his father passed down many qualities, including his love for illicit activity. In 1987, Calvin Ayre's father was arrested for illegally importing marijuana from the Bahamas to Canada, likely for distribution purposes. The plan, according to family friend Bill Roberts, who had two kids with one of Calvin Ayre's sisters, was for Bill's brother Paddy, a licensed pilot, to outfit a plane with long-range gas tanks and smuggle tons of marijuana back to Canada.
Ironically, the company that installed the tanks was a shell for American law enforcement, which arrested Paddy instantly when he landed, then extraditing him back to Canada. The trial judge at the time referred to Calvin Ayre as a co-conspirator, although Ayre denied the accusations (of course). This appears to have been the first major graze with the law in Calvin Ayre's life.
While graduating from the University of Waterloo in 1984 and earning an MBA in 1989, Ayre also tried to earn a law degree from the University of Western Ontario, but it went far from well. His grades were so bad that he failed out in the first year. On the topic of being expelled from law school, Ayre stated:
"I might not have been quite smart enough to be a lawyer."
Later on in life, Ayre would ironically use the court systems of various countries in an attempt to prove Craig Wright's false claims as Satoshi Nakamoto (more on this later).
In 1990, Ayre found a job at a heart valve manufacturer, Bicel Medical Systems. Authorities discovered he was illegally moving company shares without the proper paperwork and was fined $10,000 in 1996, thus being barred from operating a company on the Vancouver Stock Exchange until 2016.
Ayre said it was all to help the company stay afloat.
The rise of Bodog
In 1992, after his father's failed drug enterprises in the late 80s, Ayre was in a fervent mood to start his own business. Ayre discovered a news story about a shifty businessman named Ronald Sacco, who came up with a business idea to accept wagers over the phone. Sacco was eventually caught by police and indicted in 1994 for running illegal gambling operations. He supposedly ran the entire business from his Dominican Republic villa; something Ayre would end up doing in Antigua.
Inspired by career criminal Sacco, had a plan to build on the idea of phone-betting. The scheme involved launching a website that would allow people to wager online: enter Bodog Entertainment in 1994.
After launching the website, Ayre launched marketing campaigns to attract investors and users of the website. His strategy was to ride around in a black hummer and constantly be surrounded by models. It was no secret that the end goal was to pass off a celebrity lifestyle so that gamblers aspired to achieve that lifestyle as well.
By 2005, Bodog processed over 1 million wagers per day. After success in marketing his new online gambling business, he began to make immense amounts of money, raising him to the sought after status of billionaire. Ayre became so popular that he was on the cover of Forbes at one point.
However, by 2006, The United States passed a new law essentially making online gambling illegal. This forced Ayre to sell the US section of Bodog to a Quebec-based firm, Morris Mohawk Gaming Group. Although, he retained his rights to the Bodog name and licensing abilities. In 2009, the now defunct calvinayre.com was launched, and he began to license the Bodog name for different products, even including Italian coffee.
By 2012, Ayre was in deep heat with American law enforcement. In similar fashion to other gambling moguls, he was accused of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering, which resulted in him being placed on a wanted list for extradition from Antigua to Maryland. Luckily for Ayre, the charges against him were eventually dropped in 2017 after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and gave up over $60 million in assets.
Lurking in the shadows, although, was a new business venture with the most hated con art artist in the crypto industry.
Faketoshi and BSV
While evidence of his relationship with Faketoshi Craig Wright dates farther back, according to renowned Bitcoin journalist Arthur van Pelt, Calvin Ayre launched a new media firm called CoinGeek in 2017 with the sole purpose of pushing Craig Wright's claims. Ayre suggests often that Arthur van Pelt is a Blockstream worker, when in actuality he has no relation and simply wants to expose Wright and Ayre for who they are.
The story first starts with Bitcoin Cash, a Bitcoin fork which launched in 2017 due to disagreements with Bitcoin core developers involving the vision of the project. Bitcoin Cash supporters argued that the project was straying away from Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto's original focus, which was digital cash enabled by "big blocks." Although, there is evidence that Satoshi was actually a small blocker, since he never raised the 1 MB block limit he placed before leaving.
This is where Craig Wright found some support, since he was the only big blocker Satoshi candidate. However, after excellent reporting by Arthur van Pelt and public debunkings by Adam Back and Vitalik Buterin, it was clear that Wright was nothing but a fraud.
Eventually, Bitcoin Cash was split in two due to the disagreements with Wright and, just like Bitcoin beforehand, the Bitcoin Cash chain was forked with Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) officially launching on November 15, 2018.
The Satoshi Vision, is of course not the real Satoshi Nakamoto's vision, but the vision of Craig Wright. While BSV is a fork of a fork of Bitcoin, Ayre and Wright assert that it is the real Bitcoin, while BTC is the knockoff. In recent months, Ayre has even been stealing the Bitcoin maxi stance, saying that all crypto besides BSV is a scam.
After a short time of supporting Bitcoin Cash, CoinGeek thus became the BSV media arm. This is shown recently by a CoinGeek reporter's story about supporting other projects being swiftly taken down minutes after publication. Ayre also happens to own a massive stake in the largest BSV block producer, TAAL.
In addition to his BSV propaganda company, one of Ayre's top goals is to fund Craig Wright's court fights with people who declare him to be a fraud. For example, as part of Wright's fake Satoshi story, he claimed that he had a co-Satoshi named Dave Kleiman, who was his former business partner.
Kleiman, a former disabled vet, died in 2013 under odd circumstances, and his brother Ira sued Craig Wright for the Satoshi Bitcoin stash (which in actuality, very likely belongs to someone else). A strong case can be made for Nick Szabo being Satoshi, based on the research I and many others have conducted.
Another type of lawsuit that Ayre funds are SLAPP lawsuits, which are to intimidate critics of Wright through long court battles that cost the sued person immense amounts of money.
The latest lawsuit was against Bitcoin podcaster Peter McCormack for defamation. McCormack lost the case on paper, but actually won in reality. The judge awarded Wright only 1 British pound for the win, in an attempt to make sure he doesn't sue McCormack again. Hodlonaut, a Bitcoin educator, coutersued a suit Wright filed in England resulting in a Norway case, where Hodlonaut came out victorious in late October.
Another use of Ayre's money is to enable Wright to patent troll, in other words, to essentially patent open source technologies that were invented by other people. This is the idea behind Wright cosplaying as Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright has even made the ridiculous claim that he invented Ethereum's NFT standard.
Ayre appears to have gone off the rails (not that he ever was on them), tweeting recently:
"Everyone attacking Dr Craig Wright is involved in crimes."
Though, years ago, Wright sued both Vitalik Buterin and Adam Back for proving his claims wrong, which resulted in both court cases being dropped and paying the legal fees of both men.
It's clear that Calvin Ayre is nothing but a snake oil salesman and given that BSV is near an all-time-low, it's doubtful he is still a billionaire. If you see any product or business run by Calvin Ayre, I wouldn't touch it with a 20-foot pole.
*This story was updated to include results of the Peter McCormack and Hodlonaut court cases against Craig Wright