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Chinese cryptocurrency billionaire Justin Sun apologises for overhyping US$4.6m lunch with Warren Buffett

Justin Sun Yuchen, the millennial Chinese crypto entrepreneur who bid US$4.6 million for a seat at a charity lunch hosted by Warren Buffett and then called it off due to “kidney stones”, has apologised to the public for overhyping the incident and promised to become a social role model for Chinese youth.

In a post on his Sina Weibo account on Thursday the 29-year-old referred to “a dark moment when [he] was sick”, which contributed to “unprecedented storms, doubts and pains.”

“I deeply regret my excessive marketing and overhyping behaviour, and I would like to express my sincere apology to the public, the media, and the leaders and regulators who care about me,” he said in the post.

“All [my behaviours] will be based on national interests, industry interests, and public interests. [I] will abandon the selfishness, actively rectify and abide by the law, export more positive energy for the development of the blockchain industry, do more in-depth thinking, and become a better social role model for youth,” he said.

A message sent to Sun’s verified Twitter account seeking comment did not receive an immediate response.

Founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron and chief executive of software company BitTorrent, Sun came under the spotlight after announcing he had bid US$4.57 million to join a charity lunch hosted by US investment legend Warren Buffett.

Following the announcement, Sun launched a slew of controversial debates on his Sina Weibo and Twitter accounts, which have 1.2 million and 1.4 million followers respectively, including provoking arguments with Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan and Wang Sicong, the son of Chinese billionaire and Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin.

Sun even Tweeted an invitation for US President Donald Trump to attend the charity lunch after Trump said on July 12 that he was “not a fan of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies” and “unregulated cryptoassets can facilitate unlawful behaviour, including the drugs trade and other illegal activity.”

On Tuesday, Sun suddenly announced in a Weibo post that he was in hospital due to kidney stones and had to cancel the lunch with Buffett. He said the money he bid to attend the charity event would still be donated to the Glide Foundation and remains valid.

Chinese media reports have suggested that Sun’s decision to cancel attending the event was for other reasons.

The entrepreneur was involved in illegal fundraising via the Tron project, which operated illegal gambling services accessible to Chinese residents, according to a report by The 21st Century Business Herald on Tuesday. The report also noted that Sun’s early start-up Peiwo, a social app which allows strangers to chat with each other, has been accused of being a vulgar and pornographic business.

Caixin news report published on Tuesday night cited unnamed sources saying Sun has been barred from travelling outside mainland China. However, Sun subsequently posted a video on his Twitter account, claiming he was in San Francisco.

Although Sun has denied the illegal fundraising and money laundering accusations, he admitted that some content on his social app Peiwo had “negative energy”.

In his apology letter he said his immature behaviour on the social platform gradually evolved into “disorderly, stalled, and failed over-marketing” which resulted in many unintended consequences.

In his statement Sun also apologised to Sogou’s CEO and mentioned his admiration for Caixin and its founder and publisher Hu Shuli. Sun said he will cut back on his Weibo posts and avoid marketing and hype so he can focus on the cultivation and development of blockchain technology.

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