Mayor Adams turning first check to crypto as bitcoin plunges

Mayor Eric Adams’ grand experiment with converting his paycheck to cryptocurrency began Friday — just in time for the latest plunge in value for bitcoin and other leading tokens.

The price of bitcoin hit a six-month low on Friday, sinking approximately 10 percent to $38,565 per token as of noon, according to cryptocurrency platform Coinbase. Ether sank nearly 14 percent to $2,794.53.

That’s a significant drop from when Adams first announced he would convert his first three paychecks on Nov. 4. Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $69,000 on Nov. 9, but has since plunged in value by more than 40 percent.

As mayor, Adams earns an annual salary of $258,750, meaning he will convert about $18,000 from those three checks into the cryptocurrencies after average tax withholdings.

Based on prices Friday afternoon, Adams’ first check could net him a fraction — .15 — of one bitcoin or 2.11 ethereum coins, another type of cryptocurrency.

Mayor Eric Adams earns over $258,000 a year in his role.
Sipa USA via AP

Like buying shares in a stock, Adams will either win or lose based on the value of the coins when he sells them.

His office has yet to provide any details on the transaction, including how much of either type of coin he purchased.

Since Department of Labor regulations prevent city employees from being paid directly in cryptocurrencies, the mayor’s office said his paycheck will be immediately converted into cryptocurrency on Coinbase.

When asked about the ongoing bitcoin plunge earlier this month, Adams suggested it could serve as an opportunity to buy the dip.

“Sometimes the best time to buy is when things go down, so when they go back up, you made a good profit,” Adams told CNBC on Jan. 6.

A Bitcoin logo
The price of bitcoin plunged on Friday around 10 percent.
REUTERS

Adams has argued for months that cryptocurrency and other emerging tech platforms represent a major opportunity for the city’s economy.

“New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations,” Adams said in a statement earlier this week. “Being on the forefront of such innovation will help us create jobs, improve our economy and continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the globe.”

But cryptocurrency has a legion of critics, who assail the virtually unregulated coins as a mechanism for criminals and oligarchs to avoid taxes and economic sanctions. They also point out the computer systems responsible for crafting each coin require tremendous amounts of electricity, helping to fuel climate change.

Brock Pierce
 Adams flew to Puerto Rico on bitcoin billionaire Brock Pierce’s private jet at the end of last year.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Adams also has ties to a major promoter of cryptocurrencies, Brock Pierce, whose jet he took to attend the annual New York Democrats gathering at the Somos political conference in Puerto Rico. 

The mayor told Politico NY, which broke the story of the plane ride, that he booked the trip with a “travel agent” who did not provide him with a receipt.