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Swim at Kim's – and Dotcom's folk hero rise – make a splash in New York Times

PLUS: Dotcom back in court today for hearing on whether evidence seized in the January raid on his mansion – ruled illegal on June 24 – can still be used.

Chris Keall
Wed, 04 Jul 2012

UPDATE July 4:  The Swim at Kims, and Dotcom's subsequent rise to folk hero status, keeps circling the planet. Today it has made The New York times, topping the paper's tech section (Read Megaupload Founder Goes From Arrest to Cult Hero).

Since the June 24 dip, Dotcom has cemented his status as the new Ahmed Zaoui, with appearances at the final Media 7 taping and a Windows app development company's launch, followed up by an apparently successful effort to win over Coatesville locals, and a backstage meeting with Flight of the Conchords.

Today is another big day for Dotcom – but this time back on the legal front.

Following her June 28 ruling that search warrants used to seize Dotcom's property were illegal, Justice Helen Winkelmann will today hear arguments over whether evidence seized during the January 20 raid can still be used in the case.

The hearing begins 10am in the High Court at Auckland.


UPDATE June 26: Final update – promise.

Kim Dotcom's pool party has made mass circulation German tabloid Bild, and the slightly higher brow Stern.

According to, Stern calls Sunday's tweet-up a "wet and wild pool party" while for Bild it was a "boozy pool bash."

The papers are short on any legal discussion, and big on photos of José Barbosa (perhaps more damp and content than wet and wild) hamming it up.


UPDATE June 25: Ben Gracewood has now blogged a few words on what was discussed around the pool:

We talked about all the things you’d expect – the heavy-handedness of the original raid, how they coped for months without internet (“it was really boring”), and their prospects for the future. They are confident nothing will come of the charges, but are keen to defend themselves legally to whatever degree they need to. 

Later he added on the Discourse podcast, "We felt a little bit PR'd, but not too much." 

There were no ground rules, he added.

See more on Ben's site here.

Kim Dotcom is now in the early stages of planning a mass party at a public pool.

Earlier today he tweeted "#swimatkims will return for everybody. Need a big public pool. Awesome DJ. Sound & lights. Who's in? Hey @nzben can you create a website?"

Mr Gracewood duly created - complete with the tagline "Swim for internet freedom."

So far the planning hasn't extended to little details like where, or when ... but some kind of major Megaupload pep rally seems to be brewing.


Sunday June 24: Kim Dotcom's High Court-granted living allowance includes a little headroom for entertaining guests, it seems.

I was dubious when the Herald reported the internet entrepreneur now has a Twitter account (@KimDotcom). Even though the paper is the German's unofficial mouthpiece in print (NBR and others have been refused access).

Colour me wrong.

On Sunday afternoon, the account began posting of the giant German and co-accused Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk frollicking by the pool at the accused pirate's $30 million rented mansion in Coatesville (where Mr Dotcom's relaxed bail conditions allow him a daily dip).

Around 2.30pm, West Auckland blogger and sofware maker Ben Gracewood tweeted, "Do you guys just drive around in modified electric vehicles and pose for photos? I could live like that?"

Kim Dotcom responded, "Come over now!"

Media7 reporter José Barbosa (Milkshakebot to Twitter) also got a Twitter direct message from Mr Dotcom, asking him to "come around in 10 minutes". So did social media commentator and consultant Vaughn Davis.

Mr Gracewood mused he might be the victim of "the most elaborate troll in Twitter history", but by 4.45pm he was jumping into Mr Dotcom's pool (which the Marker Metro developer said was salted rather than chemically chlorinated).

None of the participants would comment on whether Mr Dotcom discussed his trial. "I was very happy to be invited and he was an excellent host," Mr Davis told NBR ONLINE.

Mr Gracewood relayed that Mr Dotcom and his co-accused found NBR's coverage "hilarious". Mr Davis said the night was like a "strange dream."

Neighbours might fear the giant German's offers of hospitality, judging by his tweets (under the hashtag #swimatkims), Mr Gracewood enjoyed his "surreal" experience.

If nothing else, Mr Dotcom is a dab hand at PR. The maverick entrepreneur already has a lot of sympathy in the tech and blogging community. Now he's got a bit more - or at least some appreciation as someone who can throw a spontaneous pool party.

Well, within limits. "Sorry but #SwimAtKims is not an open invite. Poor people who turned up at the gate," tweeted Mr Gracewood at 5.30pm.

On March 22, the High Court at Auckland granted Kim Dotcom a $40,000 a month living allowance (to be drawn from a frozen $301,000 NZ bank account, part of $20 million in assets under restraint) and access to interest payments on $10 million in NZ government bonds - equating to an extra $20,000 or so a month. Apparently $60,000 leaves a little spare for catering, delivered by a butler (see below).

Ben Gracewood (left), Kim Dotcom (middle), Bram van der Kolk (rear), Finn Batato, José Barbosa (facedown, foreground).

Social media marketing consultant and commentator Vaughn Davis with Kim Dotcom.

Later: poolside cupcakes (perhaps explaining why Mr Dotcom could swim daily without gaining the classic swimmer's physique).

... and canapes. Somebody's not hurting.

West by North-West: Gracewood and Dotcom.

Cultural exchange: water rugby.

Night falls, and Mr Barbosa starts to flag.

The host is still going strong. Pays to rug up.

The party moves inside the loggia (where some kind of reality distortion field makes Windows Phone devices appear as iPhones).

Mr Barbosa assumes the recovery position.

Mssrs Barbosa, Davis and Gracewood followed on the heels of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who recently visited the mansion.

US authorities are trying to extradite Mr Dotcom and his co-accused to face racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and copyright infringement charges. Most relate to, which the FBI alleges generated more than $US175 million in illegal profits from advertising and premium accounts providing access to pirated movies and music.

Mr Dotcom has recently been on the front foot, thanks to spilling the fact ACT leader John Banks (another mansion party attendee, in earlier times) discussed a $50,000 donation; a court ruling that police over-stepped their warrant during the January 20 raid on Dotcom mansion, and the revelation the FBI took evidence off-shore before a judge had ruled on whether it had the right.

His extradition hearing begins August 6.

A photo of Dotcom mansion taken earlier this year by Ben Gracewood from Vaughn Davis' plane.

Chris Keall
Wed, 04 Jul 2012
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Swim at Kim's – and Dotcom's folk hero rise – make a splash in New York Times