Though the investigation is continuing, police in Puerto Rico have found no evidence of foul play in the death of MakerDAO co-founder Nikolai Mushegian.

The body of Mushegian, 29, washed up on a beach in the Condado neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, last week. Hours before his death, the developer, a foundational figure in the early development of DAOs, stablecoins, and Web3 security, tweeted that mysterious forces, including the Mossad, the CIA and a “pedo ring” were planning to kill him. The tweet, predictably, fueled a number of simmering conspiracy theories.

However, according to San Juan police records obtained by Decrypt, investigators have thus far found no indication of foul play in Mushegian’s death. Police found “no signs of violence” during a preliminary examination of Mushegian’s body, though he did suffer a small laceration to his skull. 


Mushegian’s body was recovered on Ashford Beach, an area well-known in San Juan for its dangerous swimming conditions. Numerous swimmers, particularly tourists, have drowned in the area.

The beach typically features ample signs warning beachgoers not to swim, due to strong undercurrents and rocky conditions; some of those signs may have been recently washed away, however, by the devastating hurricane that pummeled Puerto Rico in September. The area of Ashford Beach on which Mushegian was found is primarily frequented by surfers. There was no indication that Mushegian had been surfing prior to his death. 

Puerto Rico Police Bureau’s homicide division is investigating the matter—its involvement is standard practice for all drowning deaths. It is also standard practice for an official cause of death not to be determined until after a formal autopsy, the results of which routinely take a month or more to be filed. 

A source close to the investigation, however, did say they believe a number of factors in the investigation point to the possibility of Mushegian’s death being considered a suicide. 


Some who knew him mourned his passing as a preventable tragedy, one indicative of the prevalence of mental health issues afflicting “brilliant but troubled” leaders in the crypto space.

In the months leading up to Mushegian’s death, the crypto founder began posting increasingly conspiratorial messages to Twitter, implying that his ex-girlfriend had implicated him in a criminal conspiracy involving government spies. 

Rune Christensen, Mushegian’s fellow MakerDAO co-founder, told Decrypt that he spoke to Mushegian three months ago, and that Mushegian seemed to be in good spirits. He was however already exhibiting concerns about government and criminal conspiracies.   

“He seemed happy to be building his new stablecoin RICO,” said Christensen. “But he was also worried about a criminal group he believed was trying to interfere with his work.” 

Mushegian left MakerDAO in 2018, reportedly dissatisfied with the project’s straying from its initial ideals of decentralization and opposition to government and traditional capital. Christensen is still heavily involved with the protocol, which just last week approved a major partnership with publicly-traded crypto exchange Coinbase, and last month invested $500 million in U.S. government bonds.   

Mushegian was most recently building RICO, a decentralized stablecoin envisioned as a “spiritual successor” to DAI, MakerDAO’s stablecoin, but that would be, in contrast, designed “without compromises.” However, during his final days, he appeared to be convinced that the stablecoin had provoked state actors who were worried about the cryptocurrency’s potential to threaten the dominance of the central banking system, and that they were planning to assassinate him. 


Some industry leaders, including Ameen Soleimani—CEO of Spanchain and co-founder of Reflexer, the company behind RAI, an Ethereum-backed stablecoin heavily influenced by Mushegian—have in recent days doubled down on their beliefs that Mushegian was murdered.

Juan Hernández contributed reporting to this story.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.