The alleged cyber thief accused of laundering $4.5 billion in Bitcoin is, yes, also an artist and NFT collector

Federal agents arrested a couple in New York Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein and Heather Rhiannon Morgan yesterday accused of conspiring to launder $4.5 billion worth of Bitcoin stolen in the 2016 Bitfinex hack, which allegedly used the proceeds to buy gold and NFT art.

A self-proclaimed ‘hot rapper making surreal art’, according to her recently scrubbed biography on instagramMorgan’s name is Razzlekhan— “like Genghis Khan, but with more pizzazz,” according to his website.

She also claims to be a serial entrepreneur and is CEO of Endpass, a blockchain startup founded by Lichtenstein. They both can also work at SalesFolk, an email marketing company. Meanwhile, he bills himself as a “tech entrepreneur, explorer, and occasional magician” on Average.

Morgan has positioned herself as a cybertechnology expert, writing more than 50 articles for Forbesincluding one titled “Experts share tips to protect your business from cybercriminalss”, reports the daily beast. Another suggests rap as an antidote to burnout.

It remains unclear whether the couple were also behind the 2016 robbery of 119,754 Bitcoins from Hong Kong-based virtual currency exchange Bitfinex. But whoever orchestrated the cryptocurrency theft allegedly sent the money – which was then worth only $71 million, before Bitcoin’s rise in value in the years that followed – to Lichtenstein’s digital wallet through 2,000 separate transactions.

Despite its claims to creativity, Instagram and Facebook features relatively few examples of Morgan art.

In one post, she promotes a YouTube video about how she decorated the “previously ugly Schwinn elliptical to look like dope art,” for a less ugly home gym. But she mostly seems to be making hand-painted, “berazzled” clothes and accessories that she calls “streetwear” – unless, of course, her Razzlekhan identity is actually long-term performance art. .

A deep dive into Morgan’s social media presence reveals numerous photographs of the self-styled artist posing with other people’s art, including works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as what appears to be a Louise Nevelson and a Jack Whitten, and numerous street-art murals.

She also posted images from the Brant Foundation’s inaugural exhibition on the Lower East Side and the 2020 Spring/Break Art Show in New York, where she was drawn to “The Most Beautiful Dick Pics of All Time,” a Presenting Faith Holland’s Animated Cock GIFs from the Los Angeles Transfer Gallery.

In October, Morgan visited Sotheby’s ahead of the $3.8 million sale of ephemera by the famous late magician Ricky Jay’s Collection. She shared a photo of herself posing with two of the lots, with the caption “I’m spying on a few things I might want to buy”, on Facebook.

Additionally, Morgan shared a photo of herself spray painting an image of a leaf in Hanoi, Vietnam in December.

His website notes that “Razz shamelessly explores new frontiers in art, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible” and “his art often resembles something between an acid trip and a delicious nightmare”.

But overall, she seems to be more into her music.

In April 2019, Morgan released a music video for her single “Bedouin Versace.” Following her arrest, she made her YouTube account private, but it can still be seen, thanks to the return machine.

“We wanted this video to give people a taste of what it’s like to have synesthesia, so it feels like an LSD acid trip, and it’s got a bit of a hot man vibe to it. “, proclaimed the description of the video. “Much like the art and fashion of the sadly murdered Gianni Versace, the visuals in this cinematography feature bold, bold color and sexuality, but with a North African (as opposed to Greco-Roman) Bedouin twist.”

Inspirations aside, know that the song is really terrible. The “damn Wall Street crocodile,” as Morgan calls himself in the lyrics, has absolutely no flow — a fact she tried to market as a “genuinely goofy twang” on her biography during Spotifywhere it has 15 monthly listeners.

Nonetheless, Lichetenstein offered Morgan in 2019 “an eerie and creative multi-channel marketing campaign…that captures the essence of Razzlekhan: surreal, mysterious, spooky and sexy,” according to one. Facebook Publish.

He plastered posters promoting Razzlekhan across Manhattan, a stunt culminating with a digital billboard in Times Square hailing the rapper’s work as “the most brutally honest album of the year.”

Morgan has continued his musical activities during the pandemic.

Razzlekhan’s latest release art, “moon and starsfeatures her and Lichtenstein seated in front of a wall of framed art. Based on comments on one of her Facebook posts, it appears to be a photo from their wedding day.

She also commissioned the artist Paige Greley to create the cover for his 2021 single »Gilfalicious.” The painting shows Morgan by the pool, as an elderly lady in a purple turban and zebra-print dress, holding a baby crocodile and riding on the back of a muscular, shirtless pool boy.

This painting is one of at least two original works of art that Morgan owns. His Facebook cover photo, painted by Diyar Al Asadiis an abstract portrait of her with the head of a ram and flanked by two crocodiles, which she called “the embodiment of myself”.

The DOJ declined to provide details of any NFT artwork the couple may have purchased with the stolen funds, according to CNBC. Eamon Javer.

However, information about Morgan and Lichtenstein’s alleged wrongdoings is readily available.

Special agents from the IRS-Criminal Investigation Cyber ​​Crimes Unit solved the case through court-authorized search warrants for Lichtenstein and Morgan’s online accounts. One account’s files contained the private access keys to the digital wallet that received the stolen Bitfinex funds.

With this information, agents were able to recover the remaining 94,636 bitcoins, valued at approximately $3.6 billion. This is the largest financial seizure ever made by the Department of Justice.

The couple are believed to have used various money laundering techniques to conceal their transaction history as they moved billions of dollars. The GM dispute they used fake identities, programmed automated transactions, converted Bitcoin into other forms of virtual currency, deposited funds in darknet markets, and used business accounts in an attempt to legitimize their financial activity.

“In a methodical and calculated scheme, the defendants allegedly laundered and disguised their immense fortunes,” Jim Lee, head of IRS-Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. declaration. “IRS-CI Cyber ​​Crimes Unit Special Agents have once again developed a sophisticated laundering technique, allowing them to trace, access and seize stolen funds.”

The two face charges of conspiracy to money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which together carry a maximum sentence of 25 years. They appeared in federal court after their arrest on Tuesday, where the judge ordered $5 million bond for Lichtenstein and $3 million bond for Morgan.

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