Mark Karpelès

Mark Karpelès, also known as MagicalTux, is a former operator of the notable Bitcoin exchange MTGox, as well as a founding member of the Bitcoin Foundation, and a major contributor to the Bitcoin Wiki project.

Karpelès notably presided over the great failure of the MTGox exchange, with his tight control of information and seemingly criminally irresponsible behavior yielding unprecedented outrage in the Bitcoin community.


Mark was born June 1st, 1985 in France, and grew up in the city of Dijon. In his teenage years, it is rumored that his interest in computers turned criminal, according to various sources. Although apparently convicted, Mark served no time and was burdened with no public criminal record. It's documented that Mark moved from Dijon to Paris, attending the schools Lycée Claude Bernard, and Lycée Louis Armand in Paris, finishing his education in 2003 at age 18.

He soon found employment at the Linux Cyberjouers company, working as a network administrator and software developer for two years. After his stint at Linux Cyberjouers, Mark reportedly went to work for the French company Eurocenter, a game software development studio for two years. Reportedly Mark's work at Eurocenter led to a dispute and accusations of financial fraud. Mark was eventually convicted of the accusations in 2010, resulting in a one year prison sentence. However Mark never returned to France to serve his one year sentence, because in 2009 at age 24 he had moved to Tokyo Japan, never to return to France.

In Tokyo, Mark formed a limited liability company Tibanne, named after his cat, and found a new life there, marrying a local woman, fathering a child, and developing a conversant ability in Japanese. In 2010, Mark began to take part in the early Bitcoin community, volunteering time and effort to restore and rehabilitate the neglected Bitcoin Wiki project by reforming it and switching to a MediaWiki installation. Mark worked to create an extension to the wiki to charge for edits, and he ran a fund drive to generate funds to promote development of wiki content, although the five hundred donated bitcoins were never spent or returned.

In 2011, at age 26 Mark purchased the nascent Bitcoin exchange MTGox from the developer Jed McCaleb, acquiring an 88% stake in the company. It is rumored that at that point, he may have also taken on some hidden debt, stemming from a possible hack on the exchange during Jed's tenure, and reportedly during the switchover there may have been more funds lost.

Nevertheless, the MTGox exchange led the way as an early pioneer of what was to follow in Bitcoin exchanges, and quickly rose in prominence as Bitcoin's fame and fortune began to pick up in 2012. At 2012, at the age of 27, Mark joined Gavin Andresen and others in forming the Bitcoin Foundation, a trade association that was intended to funnel money towards the interests of Bitcoin, as decided by its board and members.

Towards the end of 2013, Karpelès worked to keep up with the rapacious demand of a Bitcoin bubble, fueled by massive media coverage. As the months wore on, the increased scrutiny and volume started to cause obvious issues. US regulators froze his accounts. He started to report issues with his own Japanese bank partners. The MTGox exchange started to delay and block withdrawals of fiat, and eventually Bitcoin, sparking concern. After drafting several crisis plans and circulating them to possible investors to help bail out MTGox, Karpelès eventually revealed that the exchange was inoperably bankrupt, had lost users' funds on deposit, and he pointed blame at a Bitcoin Blockchain bug called transaction malleability as being the culprit, demanding that the Bitcoin Core developers immediately fix the issue.

The Bitcoin Core developers rebuffed these demands and accusations, pointing to documentation on Mark's own wiki that detailed the bug and showing that it could be worked around, and that it was a well known issue that should have been dealt with by a competent programmer.

In February of 2014, Mark stepped down from the Bitcoin Foundation, and the MTGox exchange became defunct, the entire matter turning to the courts for resolution. In August of 2015, at age 30, Karpelès was arrested for falsification of financial documents, embezzlement and misuse of company funds, including recorded instances of solicitation of prostitutes with company money.