A Chinese cryptocurrency entrepreneur who paid $4.57 million at a charity auction for a lunch with Warren Buffett has missed the event over a bizarre series of health concerns that came amid the Chinese government’s crackdown on bitcoins.
Justin Sun, 29, founder of cryptocurrency startup Tron and CEO of file-sharing service BitTorrent, claimed that he was suffering from kidney stones on July 23, two days before the scheduled “Power Lunch with Warren Buffett” at the upscale Smith & Wollensky’s steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan.
“I was in hospital due to kidney stones and had to cancel the lunch with Mr. Buffett,” Sun posted on Weibo, according to the South China Morning Post. “The donation to the Glide Foundation has been completed and is still valid.”
The following day, the entrepreneur took to Twitter to announce that he “feels so much better,” stating that he will be back to work “with full speed” by Friday, July 26. The lunch was originally set on July 25.
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) July 24, 2019
Interestingly, reports from Chinese news outlets, including financial publication Caixin, claimed that Sun could not attend the lunch as he was under investigation for several allegations, including gambling, illegal fundraising and money laundering.
The 29-year-old immediately denied such reports, posting a video of himself in his San Francisco home on July 24 to show that he had not been banned from leaving China.
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) July 23, 2019
On Thursday, however, Sun released a lengthy apology on Weibo for “overmarketing” Tron as the hype over his lunch with the “Oracle of Omaha” built up.
“I feel deeply ashamed of my excessive self-promotion as well as my penchant for hyping up things,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to Sun, the lunch “evolved into an excessive marketing campaign that became uncontrollable and failed,” resulting in consequences he had neither foreseen nor intended.
“During the process, my feelings turned from excitement to anxiety and later to fear and regret,” he added.
Observers believe that Sun’s apology responds to pressures from the Chinese government, which has grown increasingly wary of investing activities it finds risky and speculative, including cryptocurrency. As a result, it has banned all initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency exchanges since September 2017, Quartz noted.
It’s unclear if Sun will still get to sit down with Buffett. Regardless, Glide, the auction beneficiary, confirmed in a tweet that the money it has raised “is already transforming lives.”