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The Alleged Cyber Thief Accused of Laundering $4.5 Billion in Bitcoin Is, Yes, Also an Artist and NFT Collector

5 min read
The Alleged Cyber Thief Accused of Laundering .5 Billion in Bitcoin Is, Yes, Also an Artist and NFT Collector

Federal brokers arrested New York Town couple Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein and Heather Rhiannon Morgan yesterday on rates of conspiring to launder $4.5 billion in Bitcoin stolen through the 2016 Bitfinex hack—reportedly employing the proceeds to purchase gold and NFT artwork.

A self-described “raunchy rapper earning surrealist art,” according to her recently scrubbed bio on Instagram, Morgan goes by the name Razzlekhan—“like Genghis Khan, but with much more pizzazz,” per her site.

She also promises to be a serial entrepreneur, and serves as CEO of Endpass, a blockchain get started-up started by Lichtenstein. They both equally may well also operate at SalesFolk, an electronic mail marketing enterprise. He, meanwhile, charges himself as a “tech entrepreneur, explorer, and occasional magician” on Medium.

Morgan has positioned herself as a cybertech expert, writing around 50 posts for Forbes, which includes 1 titled “Gurus Share Recommendations To Shield Your Organization From Cybercriminals,” reports the Day by day Beast. One more implies rapping as an antidote to burnout.

It stays unclear if the couple are also the hackers behind the 2016 heist of 119,754 Bitcoin from Hong Kong–based digital currency trade Bitfinex. But whoever masterminded the cryptocurrency theft is believed to have despatched the money—then well worth just $71 million, in advance of Bitcoin’s increase in benefit in the ensuing years—to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet across 2,000 independent transactions.

Irrespective of her promises to creativeness, Instagram and Facebook attributes reasonably handful of illustrations of art by Morgan.

In a person publish, she encourages a YouTube movie about how she embellished “previously fugly Schwinn Elliptical to appear like a dope art piece,” for a considerably less-hideous house health club. But she predominantly seems to make hand-painted and “berazzled” clothes and add-ons she refers to as “streetwear”—unless, of class, her Razzlekhan identification is really a very long-phrase functionality artwork piece.

A deep dive into Morgan’s social media existence turns up quite a few images of the so-called artist posing with other people’s art, like operates by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, as properly what appears to be a Louise Nevelson and a Jack Whitten, and numerous street-art murals.

She also posted images from the inaugural exhibition of the Brant Foundation on the Lower East Facet and the 2020 Spring/Crack Artwork Exhibit in New York, wherever she was drawn to “The Most Beautiful Dick Photos of All Time,” a presentation of Faith Holland’s animated dick GIFs from Los Angeles’s Transfer Gallery.

In Oct, Morgan frequented Sotheby’s forward of the $3.8 million sale of ephemera from the famed late magician Ricky Jay’s assortment. She shared a photo of herself posing with two of the loads, with the caption “I spy a couple of items I may wanna invest in,” on Facebook.

In addition, Morgan shared a image of herself spray-painting an graphic of a leaf when in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December.

Her web page notes, “Razz shamelessly explores new frontiers of art, pushing the limit of what is possible” and “her artwork generally resembles some thing in between an acid journey and a pleasant nightmare.”

But on the whole, she seems to be extra into her audio.

In April 2019, Morgan launched a music online video for her one “Versace Bedouin.” Pursuing her arrest, she designed her YouTube account private, but it can even now be found, many thanks to the Wayback Equipment.

“We wished this online video to give folks a style of what it is like to have synesthesia, so it kind of feels like an LSD acid vacation, and has a bit of the ‘burning guy vibe,’” the movie description proclaimed. “Just like artwork and manner of the sad to say murdered Gianni Versace, the visuals of this cinematography element vivid daring hues and sexuality, but with a North African bedouin twist (as opposed to Greco-Roman).”

Inspirations aside, know that the track is truly terrible. The “motherfucking crocodile of Wall Avenue,” as Morgan calls herself in the lyrics, has completely zero flow—a simple fact which she has attempted to industry as an “authentically awkward twang” on her bio for Spotify, where by she has 15 regular monthly listeners.

However, Lichetenstein proposed to Morgan in 2019 with “a strange, innovative multi-channel marketing campaign…that captures the essence of Razzlekhan: surreal, mysterious, creepy, and pretty,” according to a Fb put up.

He wheatpasted posters promoting Razzlekhan across Manhattan, a stunt culminating with a electronic billboard in Times Square that praised the rapper’s operate as “the most brutally trustworthy album of the 12 months.”

Morgan has continued her musical pursuits through the pandemic.

The art for Razzlekhan’s hottest launch, “Moon n Stars,” features her and Lichtenstein sitting in front of a wall of framed artwork. Centered on comments on a person of her Fb posts, it appears to be a photograph from their marriage ceremony day.

She also commissioned artist Paige Greeley to develop the go over for her 2021 solitary “Gilfalicious.” The painting demonstrates Morgan poolside, as an aged woman in a purple turban and zebra print robe, holding a toddler crocodile and stepping on the back again of a shirtless, muscular pool boy.

That painting is a single of at least two primary artworks Morgan owns. Her Facebook go over photo, painted by Diyar Al Asadi, is an abstracted portrait of her with the head of a ram and flanked by two crocodiles, which she referred to as “the epitome of myself.”

The DOJ has declined to give any particulars about NFT artworks the pair may possibly have bought with the stolen resources, according to CNBC’s Eamon Javers.

Info about Morgan and Lichtenstein’s alleged misdeeds, nevertheless, is easily available.

Special brokers from the IRS-Prison Investigation Cyber Crimes Device cracked the case thanks to courtroom-authorized look for warrants for Lichtenstein and Morgan’s on-line accounts. Documents within a single account contained the non-public entry keys to the digital wallet that obtained the stolen Bitfinex funds.

With that information, the agents have been capable to recuperate the remaining 94,636 Bitcoin, valued at about $3.6 billion. It is the Department of Justice’s largest financial seizure ever.

The few is considered to have employed a assortment of cash-laundering procedures to conceal their transaction historical past as they moved billions of bucks. The DOJ contends they made use of untrue identities, programmed automatic transactions, converted Bitcoin into other kinds of digital forex, deposited resources on darknet marketplaces, and employed enterprise accounts to endeavor to legitimize their financial exercise.

“In a methodical and calculated scheme, the defendants allegedly laundered and disguised their vast fortune,” Jim Lee, main of IRS-Legal Investigation, reported in a statement. “IRS-CI Cyber Crimes Unit distinctive brokers have once once again unraveled a innovative laundering approach, enabling them to trace, obtain, and seize the stolen money.”

The two facial area fees on cash laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which with each other have a utmost sentence of 25 a long time. They appeared in federal court pursuing their arrest on Tuesday, the place the choose purchased a $5 million bond for Lichtenstein and $3 million bond for Morgan.

Abide by Artnet News on Fb:


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