img_3691Josh Harris, the internet entrepreneur who lost $50m, He now lives in a grubby Las Vegas flat, supposedly under FBI surveillance, with only a budgie for company.

I ask how he came from that to a grubby apartment in Las Vegas, scraping $650 or so a month from online poker to live in this sketchy neighbourhood, a 10-minute walk from the Strip.

From his window by his galley kitchen he looks across low roofs to the observation tower of the Stratosphere, the tallest building west of Mississippi. He sleeps in a bag on a mattress on the floor, a knife by his side.

For the next couple of hours I hear about his relentless pursuit by the FBI: how a link to an art installation at the World Trade Center, pre-9/11, has caused him to be watched ever since.

Surveillance by the state is why he lives alone, he says, and has gone without a girlfriend for a decade. And it is why he has cut off all contact with his three sisters and three brothers. He asks — or rather demands — that I make no attempt to speak to them.

“There are men in rooms who are deciding how much trouble it would be to have you not be part of the planet earth,” he says later, over coffee at Vickie’s, a local diner.

If that moment ever comes, he wants it to be quick. He bends closer to my voice recorder. “Two taps to the back of the head by a professional, please.”


According to Harris, he became a person of interest to the FBI because of his association with Gelatin, a performance-art troupe from Vienna.

In March 2000 the group claimed to have removed a window from the 91st floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, inserted a prefab balcony then walked out on to it, naked, one by one. Harris says he filmed the stunt from a helicopter he had hired.

The New York Times ran a story on the affair the following August, in which Harris was quoted as a keen and unrepentant facilitator. The story was prompted by a Gelatin show documenting the event — scheduled for September 11 2001.

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