Max Azzarello: Conspiracy Theorist Dies Hours after Setting Himself on Fire While Protesting Outside Trump 'Hush Money' Trial in NYC

Azzarello claimed that "elites" have propagated fear to accumulate wealth and then transition society into a fascist dystopia.

Max Azzarello, the 37-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida, who set himself on fire outside Trump's hush money trial in New York, has died from his injuries. Azzarello reportedly died on Friday night, just hours after the display, described as "an extreme act of protest...[against] a totalitarian con, and our own government" on Azzarello's own Substack.

The revelation, offered late Monday, follows the harrowing incident where Azzarello doused himself in accelerant outside the courthouse before igniting himself in flames. Left in critical condition, Azzarello died from his injuries, sources said. A series of social media posts, including some about Taylor Swift, illustrate Azzarelo's unstable state of mind before the bizarre display.

Dead after Setting Self on Fire

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello X

Azzarello threw a bunch of pamphlets into the air moments before setting himself on fire in Collect Pond Park. The pamphlets contained links to a Substack newsletter titled "The Ponzi Papers," which seemed to be authored by Azzarello himself.

"This extreme act of protest is to draw attention to an urgent and important discovery," Azzarello wrote in part of his online manifesto, billed as The Ponzi Papers.

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello Instagram

"We are victims of a totalitarian con, and our own government (along with many of their allies) is about to hit us with an apocalyptic fascist world coup."

He claimed that both Republicans and Democrats have inundated the public with several existential threats to create a doomsday scenario.

Azzarello claimed that "elites" have propagated fear to accumulate wealth and then transition society into a fascist dystopia.

Trump fire
Max Azzarello seen setting himself on fire outside the Manhattan court where Trump's 'hush money' trail was on X

According to police, he arrived in New York City earlier in the week, and his family was unaware of his travels to the city.

Azzarello was photographed outside the Lower Manhattan courthouse at 100 Centre St., just the day before the incident, holding a sign declaring "Trump is with Biden and they're about to fascist coup us."

"Trump's in on it," Azzarello told the Times on Thursday, indicating his beliefs were shaped by his investigation into Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist and prominent political donor.

"It's a secret kleptocracy, and it can only lead to an apocalyptic fascist coup."

Complicated Past

A 2017 blog post by the nonprofit Strong Towns, which is no longer available, introduced Max Azzarello as their new growth manager. In his bio, Azzarello mentioned his "childhood town," describing it as a "charming, friendly, eclectic community in Long Island, New York."

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello had thrown pamphlets in the air moments before setting himself on fire X

The organization highlighted Azzarello's passions, which included "chess, creative writing, and Medieval Scandinavian poetry."

Azzarello also appeared to co-host a podcast called "Dern After Reading Podcast" dedicated to actress Laura Dern, which was active in early 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States.

Azzarello's LinkedIn profile picture shows him posing with Bill Clinton, with whom he filed a lawsuit last year along with 100 other influential defendants in a case steeped in conspiracy theories. However, the case was dismissed last October due to Azzarello's failure to follow up with required court filings.

Among the defendants named in the 2023 suit filed in Manhattan federal court were Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, the country of Saudi Arabia, and the late Texas billionaire and 1992 Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot.

Max Azzarello
Max Azzarello had shared strange conspiracy theories before setting himself on fire X

Azzarello filed the case without a lawyer, alleging "an elaborate network of Ponzi schemes" dating back to the 1990s and continuing through 2023.