In October 2018, Jennifer Robertson was living the life of her dreams. she had just married her best friend, gerald “gerry” cotten, in a ceremony at a scottish castle; she had recently started a property management business; And, using money from cotten’s wildly profitable bitcoin exchange, she and cotten had spent the past two years traveling the world in grand style, visiting everywhere from malta to dubai to morocco to paris. For their honeymoon, the couple left for India, where cotten, just 30 years old, died suddenly due to complications from Crohn’s disease. In the aftermath of his death, Robertson, along with the rest of the world, discovered that cotten had been scamming people using his exchange, Quadrigacx (commonly known as Quadriga). cotten’s duplicity is the subject of trust no one: the hunt for the king of cryptocurrency, the latest in netflix’s growing library of documentaries on scammers. One of the main questions the film raises is whether or not Robertson knew about Cotten’s plan before she died.
Throughout the film, the crypto investors who lost money through the chariot exchange (in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars) express their conviction that Robertson must have been involved in the cotten scam, that she she may have killed him, or even that she killed her previous husband (who is, in fact, alive and well). After her death, online trolls harassed Robertson so aggressively that she had to change her phone number and email address, close her social media accounts, and temporarily move to a safe house. The whole time, she says, she was trying to assimilate the idea that her husband had been a con man and that the life they had led together was over. After spending a few years out of the spotlight, she has emerged to tell the story of her in her entirety in her memoir Bitcoin Widow: Love, Betrayal, and the Missing Millions, at co-authored with stephen kimber.
read more to find out how robertson and cotten met, what happened to robertson after he died, and where she is now.
Reading: Bitcoin widow jennifer robertson
how did jennifer robertson and gerry cotten meet?
robertson and cotten met on a tinder date in 2014, when they were both around 26 years old. Ella Robertson had previously been briefly married to another man, from whom she had divorced; now she, single again, she was on the dating app. The union wasn’t love at first sight: As Robertson reminded The Globe and Mail earlier this year, she found something disappointing at first. she also didn’t know what bitcoin was so he didn’t blow her mind by telling him that she had a bitcoin exchange. Soon, though, the pair grew close: They talked “about everything and anything” for hours, she told the globe and mail. And the fact that cotten got rich quick during the first two years of their relationship didn’t exactly hurt.
Cotton’s money allowed them to travel extensively and in style, something Robertson loved. A vanity fair report on quadriga notes that between 2016 and cotten’s death in 2018, robertson documented his travels to machu picchu, dubai, oman, myanmar, the maldives, and rio de janeiro. she and cotten often traveled on private jets and when they arrived at their destinations they enjoyed the best hotels and cruises. at home, they were investing in equally luxurious real estate. In an excerpt from Bitcoin Widow, published in The Walrus, Robertson writes: “I won’t lie: I loved being rich. …we could buy a house in nova scotia, another in british columbia, even our own island with a yacht, not just a sailboat, to get there. we could travel to exotic places.”
Given the money that cotten and robertson spent, it is understandable that many (including some critics of his memoirs) are skeptical of his claims that he knew nothing about cotten’s breaking the law. without being able to read his mind, it’s impossible to really know what happened.
what happened to jennifer robertson after gerry cotten died?
Robertson herself admits that she viewed her marriage through “rose-tinted [sic] glasses,” but those glasses were forcibly removed after cotten’s untimely death in india. Robertson couldn’t access cotten’s devices, which meant that she, along with everyone else, couldn’t access the chariot. people who had transferred money to the exchange and were trying to withdraw money could not access the money from it, which in some cases meant that they had lost access to large sums. Ernst and Young would investigate the company and testify, in June 2019, that cotten had used money on the exchange for her own purposes, including trading other people’s assets to other exchanges using multiple fictitious accounts. According to Ernst and Young, an accounting firm designated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to investigate Quadriga, “Family members expected to receive an email containing critical information about Quadriga’s operation,” i.e., a ” dead man’s switch” – “within the days of mr. cotten’s passing”, which would have allowed robertson to take over the management of the exchange and return the money to the people who requested it. but, “neither the monitor nor other people involved with the organization they know a dead man’s exchange email has been received.” And as investigators discovered, in many cases, the money wasn’t there to be returned: cotten had spent it himself.
As she tells it, Robertson was left with the mystery of her husband’s true identity and personality. Was he the “kindest, most caring and loving husband” and “best friend” she remembered or was he someone who, according to a researcher who reviewed her computers, had “psychopathic tendencies”? It was one thing to try to wrap her mind around the idea that cotten had swindled quadriga users out of money; another was discovering that she had run her first online ponzi scheme when she was 15, and never stopped. And while she was trying to sort out her emotions, she was harassed by people on the internet who didn’t believe her husband was dead.
but robertson was just one of the people affected by cotten’s scam: after his death, quadriga users had lost more than $200 million, which ernst and young tried to recover. Bitcoin that could only be accessed by cotten was lost, but the company was able to address more concrete assets, including most of what robertson owned. According to Robertson’s account of the liquidation process, he initially resisted Ernst and Young’s proposed deals, but when he realized the full extent of Cotten’s duplicity, he realized that there was no alternative, and that his assets they were a byproduct of stolen property. his settlement with ernst and young in october 2019 required him to give up cash and investments, as well as real estate and vehicles, and allowed him to keep $90,000 in cash, his personal retirement savings plan (valued at $20,000), his personal car (a jeep), your jewelry (including your wedding ring, but not your engagement ring), your clothes, and some furniture. In his statement at the time, he said, “This deal will allow me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”
where is jennifer robertson now?
robertson currently lives in halifax, nova scotia, with his partner and their chihuahuas nitro and gully. she divides her time between working as a waitress and studying for her teaching degree. she hopes to become a primary school teacher. earlier this year, she published the memoir of her, bitcoin widow, mentioned above. with her partner, she is expecting a daughter.