More than 25,000 of the Bitcoin faithful poured into Miami Beach last week for the biggest crypto asset's most extravagant conference yet. They came to party, swap trading strategies, hear about tech developments and hobnob with the "orange pilled" from around the world. CoinDesk's Danny Nelson came to photograph it all.
Miami Beach's sprawling Convention Center was a scene of perpetual motion during the four-day conference. Ticket-holders shuffled between the jam-packed expo hall and four satellite stages, each with its own flair and theme. Needing to get quickly from one far-flung location to the next could spell trouble for those in a time crunch.
In a not-so-subtle jab at Wall Street's famous bovine, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez unveiled a 3,000-pound charging bull statue on conference day one. He said it's meant to capture the spirit of a tech hub on the rise. Left unsaid: Miami Beach isn't his city; Mayor Dan Gelber actually runs these parts. Still, Suarez's self-styled crypto booster persona made him a lock for the ribbon-cutting, a local cop later said.
Bitcoin's most fervent maximalists treat the asset more like a religion than an investment. In this church, the faithful wear their allegiance on their sleeve – or their feet. Kraken Head of Growth Dan Held's "Hodl" kicks (pictured right) was one piece of bitcoin regalia among many.
Don't mistake organizers' bitcoin-not-s**tcoin discourse demands for closed-mindedness. The conference attracted viewpoints from across the political spectrum, with libertarian Jo Jorgensen, centrist Andrew Yang and conservative Tucker Carlson (pictured center) filtering through. Their talk didn't always stay on digital assets, though. In this scene, Carlson, a Fox News commentator, revealed to the crowd he hasn't worn socks in over two years.
Bitcoin A-listers were a common sight at the conference's main stage. Here, MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and ARK Investments chief Cathie Wood fed the crowd a steady stream of pro-bitcoin commentary. They're well-placed to pontificate: Tech-centric Wood is among the biggest bitcoin boosters on Wall Street, and Saylor's billion-dollar bags speak for themselves.
It wasn't all parties in South Beach. Lyn Ulbricht, mother of imprisoned Silk Road developer Ross Ulbricht, was on hand to rally for her son's release. He faces multiple life sentences for running the once-popular darknet drug marketplace, an early hub for bitcoin transactions. Supporters view him as a victim of the powerful state. Pictured here is Ross' jailhouse painting "Human Blockchain," one of the many pieces on display in the conference's eclectic art gallery.
Bitcoiners' gag order on s**tcoins did not span the causeway. Back on the Miami mainland, a miniature army of Solana developers was hard at work building their parallel crypto universe They all knew of the big conference next door – a handful even went – but most had come to Wynwood's "Hacker House" with coding on their minds.
A "bitcoin music festival" capped days of conferencing. The rapper Logic (pictured here) performed for the first time in three years, and DJ Steve Aoki and rapper Killer Mike also had acts. Some tossed the crowd a quick bitcoin shout-out, but much of the "meta" discourse came from the festival's comedians. Jay Pharaoh and Jimmy O. Yang laughed off boos when they mentioned "cryptocurrencies" and "non-fungible tokens" to the bitcoin-only crowd. But anchor act Hannibal Buress wasn't as quick thinking. He lost the audience when his riffs on scams and meme coins bombed.
Four days of crypto conference boozing and schmoozing took its predictable toll on everyone, and Saylor was no exception.
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