Sitting in a small ballroom of midtown Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel, Calvin Ayre is trying to remember his last visit to New York City. He can recall throwing a party at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center and hanging out with bigshot actors, like Bruce Willis and Luke Wilson, but the event was a long time ago. Busta Rhymes performed, and Victoria’s Secret models mingled among the crowd.
“That was a fun party,” says Ayre of the 2006 bash. “That was the last time I have been to New York.”
Ayre didn’t set foot in New York for the next 16 years, and it was unclear he would ever return. For a long time, Ayre avoided entering the United States out of fear he might be arrested. But Ayre says he never doubted he would be back.
“I was no criminal,” says Ayre of his battle with the U.S. government. “I was caught up in an international trade dispute.”
In 2012, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment filed against Ayre claiming he was operating an illegal online gambling business that was taking large volumes of sports bets from Americans. He fought the case from his native Canada and his home on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Five years later, the U.S. government dropped the felony charges filed against Ayre, who pleaded guilty to a minor offense, a single misdemeanor charge.
At the age of 60, Ayre returned to New York this past fall, not as an online gambling promotor, but as an evangelist for Bitcoin SV, which Ayre claims is the true and authentic Bitcoin because it is the only digital currency that follows the set of rules, or protocol, laid out by the white paper that launched Bitcoin in 2008. He organized a three-day conference at the Sheraton as part of his overall crusade, an effort that includes funding several companies and a media outfit dedicated to Bitcoin SV.
Ayre says Bitcoin SV is powered by a revolutionary technology that has many useful applications, while the digital currency most people know as Bitcoin is useless and a fraud. He says the group of developers maintaining and updating the Bitcoin protocol violated the way it was set up in the first place, pushing Bitcoin
in a direction that was not originally intended by limiting its usefulness.
“For sure it’s a Ponzi scheme because it can’t do anything,” says Ayre of Bitcoin trading.
A crucial part of Ayre’s quest hinges on his support of Craig Wright and Wright’s claim that he is Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym used by the elusive inventor of Bitcoin. A fun-loving Australian entrepreneur, Wright has declared since 2016 that he is the person who launched Bitcoin against a firestorm of skepticism and doubt from digital currency players. Ayre and Wright have championed Bitcoin SV, which stands for “Bitcoin Satoshi Vision,” trading accusations of trickery and deceit with those who view Wright’s Satoshi claim as bogus.
“I will be producing evidence about my creation of Bitcoin,” Wright said in an email. “It matters because what is being called Bitcoin (BTC) is not, BSV is.”
Either way, investors …….