Paula Crown and James Crown

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JP Morgan board member’s death in wake of Epstein settlement sparks rampant speculation

When is a car crash just a car crash?


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Jun 27, 2023

James Crown, a board member of JPMorgan Chase, died Sunday in a racing accident as he was celebrating his 70th birthday in Colorado. 

The accident is still under investigation, however, conspiracy theories surrounding his death are already in full swing.

Crown crashed into a barrier at Aspen Motorsports Park’s racetrack, a members-only facility. The county coroner’s office classified his death as accidental and said in a press release that “the official cause of death is pending autopsy although multiple blunt force trauma is evident.”

In addition to his role at JPMorgan Chase, Crown served as CEO of his family’s multibillion-dollar company, the investment firm Henry Crown and Company, which owns the Aspen Skiing Company. He also worked as a board director for General Dynamics and chaired the Aspen Institute.

Crown also served as a member of former President Barack Obama’s intelligence advisory board and was a major financial backer of his, co-chairing Obama’s 2008 Illinois finance committee and giving nearly $45,000 to his re-election effort.

The longtime Democratic donor has given about $1.1 million at the federal level since the beginning of 2020, according to data from the Federal Election Committee. That includes $43,500 to the Democratic National Committee and $175,000 to committees supporting President Joe Biden.

In a statement Monday, Biden called Crown “a good man, a dear friend, and a great American,” and said learning of his death was “heartbreaking.”

Some people are baselessly suggesting online that something more sinister occurred, pointing to Crown’s political and business ties as evidence.

One person, for example, seemed to link the preliminary approval of a $290 million settlement by JP Morgan Chase for victims of prolific sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. The suit alleged the bank turned a “blind eye” toward Epstein and continued to finance him. The bank has denied liability and argued in a statement it “would never have continued to do business with [Epstein] if we believed he was using our bank in any way to help commit heinous crimes.” 

“Probably just a coincidence,” the person wrote. The news also comes after JP Morgan reportedly couldn’t recover 47 million emails that regulators were trying to access, which prompted its own speculation.

Another user theorized that Crown’s race car was hacked (though no evidence points to this), saying, “The deep state is taking out anyone that could disclose.”

That theory is similar to what some people surmised caused the death of journalist Michael Hastings in 2013 while he was reportedly in the middle of a “big story.” Hastings died after his car crashed into a tree while traveling about 100 mph—and some have theorized the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the accident.

“It sounds like JP Morgan is cleaning up some loose ends,” commented another Twitter user. “They’re a criminal syndicate. The list of their criminal behavior grows.”

Another cited JP Morgan quickly removing Crown’s name from its Board of Directors as odd. Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine confirms Crown was still listed on June 16.

“Everyone can crash, certainly on a racetrack when you’re 70. But I still think it’s remarkable that JPM immediately wipes him from the page instead of honoring him,” the user wrote.

JP Morgan did issue a statement immediately after Crown’s death.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Jim’s family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement. “Our thoughts are also with all of you who knew and loved Jim, as much as I did. He was an integral part of JPMorgan Chase and our lives, and his presence will be deeply missed.”

But that did little to quell conspiracies. Speculation has shrouded the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s life and death, after the New York City medical examiner ruled Epstein committed suicide by hanging in his jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Epstein had been placed on suicide watch for 31 hours two weeks before his death after jail officials suspected a suicide attempt.

Some have alleged Epstein didn’t kill himself and that his death, as well as that of some of his associates, is part of a larger cover-up.

A report issued by the Justice Department on Tuesday blamed a “combination of negligence and misconduct” that enabled Epstein to commit suicide.

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*First Published: Jun 27, 2023, 10:49 am CDT