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Unmasking the Deceased Programmer Who Donated 28 Bitcoin to Capitol Hill Rioters

Key Takeaways

  • Laurent Bachelier, AKA Pankkake, was an early adopter of Bitcoin, often rubbing shoulders with figures like Monero developer Riccardo Spagni in IRC chatrooms in 2013.
  • Citing the downfall of Western civilization, Pankkake allegedly sent white nationalists in the U.S. $500,000, including almost $250,000 in BTC, to “white majoritarian” Nick Fuentes.
  • Bachelier suffered from a serious illness and posted a suicide note on his blog the day after the donation.

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Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Washington D.C. Capitol Building last week in protest of Trump’s election defeat, killing five people, including two police officers. Reports later revealed that many involved had been funded with Bitcoin.

Many alt-right and white nationalist figures were present at the riots, including self-described “white majoritarian” Nick Fuentes, outspoken neo-nazi Baked Alaska, and various other high-profile white supremacists.

Nick Feuntes at Capitol Hill. Source: Twitter
Nick Fuentes (center) at Capitol Hill. Source: Twitter

The riot was planned via the social media site Parler starting Jan. 6, with Wild Protest movement leader Ali Alexander stating, “If DC escalates… so do we.”

Bitcoin Funds Capital Riots

On Dec. 8, a single donor sent over 28.15 BTC worth over $520,000 at the time to multiple alt-right figures and organizations, including figures directly involved in the Capitol Hill unrest. 

Cybersecurity firm Chainalysis identified the transactions and tracked them, building a paper trail.

Through the Namecoin blockchain, Chainalysis identified the donor as “Pankkake.” According to Chainalysis, domestic extremists in the U.S. have been receiving foreign funding traceable on the Bitcoin blockchain since at least 2016.

Nick Fuentes, a self-described “white majoritarian” and anti-LGBT speaker banned from YouTube for denying the Holocaust, received 45% of the Dec. 8 funds. That sum amounted to 13.5 BTC or approximately $250,000 at the time.

Chainalysis reports that Pankkake donated funds to the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi media outlet, as well as alt-right podcaster Ethan Ralph, and the U.S. white supremacist group VDARE.

While most of the recipients were from the U.S., Pankkake also allegedly donated $26,000 to French neo-nazi and Holocaust denier Vincent Reynourard.

Pankkake BTC donations
Source: Twitter

The cybersecurity firm stated its belief that Pankkake may have been an early adopter of Bitcoin who was active in crypto since 2013 and accumulated wealth as BTC gained in value.

Tracing The Mystery Donor’s Identity

Crypto Briefing traced the Pankakke NameCoin handle to Freenode chat logs archived on BTCbase.org where a user identifying themselves as “Pankkake,” a French programmer interested in Namecoin, had been a regular poster.

Pankkake’s early political leanings can be seen in various racist, anti-semitic, and transphobic comments, stating “blacks are born to be slaves anyway” in 2013.

Pankkake was often in contact with Monero creator Riccardo Spagni, AKA Fluffy Pony, during that time. Their discussion focused on cryptocurrency and blogging, and Spagni informed Crypto Briefing that they never spoke in private.

Spagni privately shared with the author his rating for Pankkake on Bitcointalk, where he called Pankkake the “The Trolliest Troll of Trollsville.”

Pankkake discussed blogging with other users, including Mirceau Popescu, Romanian entrepreneur and founder of the now-defunct BitBet US site. Popescu was banned from Twitter in 2014 for threatening to kill Andreas Antonopoulos.

Mircea Popescu banned from Twitter
Source: Reddit

In the 2013 chat logs, a Freenode user linked a racist blog post that Popescu wrote on his personal site. Pankkake’s comments on that blog led Crypto Briefing to Pankkake’s own blog, called Headfucking, which contained various projects and files, including adult content and a fan site for a metal goregrind band. 

Finally, the Headfucking site led Crypto Briefing to a blog under Pankakke’s real name, where his final post was a suicide note.

Suicide Note

Pankkake’s name was Laurent Bachelier, a Parisian programmer with 47 commits on GitHub.

His blog featured his thoughts on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, among other topics, with no posts from 2015 to late 2020.

Bachelier posted a suicide note on Dec. 9, 2020, one day after the 28 BTC donation was made. He stated that he suffered from Trigeminal neuralgia, a neuropathic disorder, also known as the “suicide disease,” characterized by extreme and chronic nerve pain. Bachelier cites tinnitus and fatigue, among other health problems, as reasons for his suicide.

“If you are reading this, I am deceased. This is a message scheduled to be posted in the future; so there is no chance that i survived.”

Bachelier went on to list more reasons, including his view that “Western civilization is declining,” while also bringing up Holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracy theories by referencing “wooden doors” and “building 7.”

Laurent Bachelier Pankkake suicide note
Source: Laurent Bachelier

As examples of this Western decline, he stated his belief that the COVID-19 virus is not dangerous and that the police did not really kill George Floyd, making the BLM protests against his killing unjustified.

He ended the list lamenting that “to top it off,” the Fast and Furious 9 movie release had been delayed.

On his death, one of his former university classmates commented, describing Bachelier as having, even 15 years ago, “a pure libertarian alt-right tendency that in other circumstances I would have abhorred. He was nevertheless a comrade.”

In his suicide note, Bachelier pointed to his reasons for allegedly donating his money to hate groups and extremists, saying:

“This is one of the things that has radically changed about me in the last few years: what happens after I die interests me. This is why I have decided to bequeath my modest fortune to certain causes and certain people. I think and I hope they will make better use of it than I do.”

The incident proved to be a crucial demonstration of the transparency and immutability of the Bitcoin blockchain, allowing donations aimed at funding civil unrest in the U.S. to be traced to their original source.

Disclaimer: This investigation relies on Chainalysis accurately identifying Pankakke as the donor of the $520,000 BTC donation.

Disclosure: At the time of press, the author of this piece held Bitcoin.

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