The bizarre story behind former teen internet star Lil Tay’s purported death only grew more bizarre on Thursday with Tay’s ex-manager casting doubt on claims that a hacker posted a fake death announcement on Tay’s Instagram.
The Wednesday post on Tay’s Instagram announced the unexpected deaths of both Lil Tay and her brother. But Tay, who rose to fame largely off the back of transparently-staged scandals, seemingly came forward 24 hours later, issuing a statement saying she was very much alive and had been hacked by a “3rd party.”
However, her ex-manager, Harry Tsang, who recently started touting a cryptocurrency coin in Tay’s name, said he didn’t think it was a hack at all. Instead, Tsang said he believed it to be an elaborate ruse from Tay’s brother, Jason Tian, who was once accused of coaching Tay on what to say in some of the profane videos that rocketed her to fame in 2018, when she was just 9 years old.
“I believe the reported hacking incident may not have occurred,” Tsang said in a statement to The Daily Beast, adding, “the actions of Liltay’s brother, renowned for his propensity for extreme measures, lead me to hypothesize an alternative motive behind this occurrence.”
Tsang guessed that it was a publicity stunt designed to “illicitly extract funds from devoted supporters and unwitting bystanders.”
Speaking to The Daily Beast via phone, Tsang alleged that Tian has long had access to Tay’s Instagram account, which boasts more than 3 million followers. He said he believed “100%” that this was still the case at the time of Wednesday’s phony death claim.
The Daily Beast also received the same statement that TMZ first published on Thursday, claiming that Lil Tay was still alive, from a person who requested anonymity and claimed to be Tay’s representative.
“I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I’m completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say. It’s been a very traumatizing 24 hours. All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess,” Lil Tay seemingly said in the statement.
But Tsang alleged this was also the work of Jason. He claimed that he hadn’t heard or seen anything from Lil Tay herself.
The person who sent the statement from Lil Tay insisted to The Daily Beast that Tay’s brother doesn’t handle media relations, and claimed anyone purporting to be Tay’s ex-manager was a fraud.
For his part, Tsang, the CEO of Liltay Token, vehemently denied that the ordeal was an elaborate stunt to promote his cryptocurrency, telling The Daily Beast he’s considering “not going ahead with the project” after the whole debacle.
“Sharing this to let everybody know that we will not be launching anything soon. We’ve been in development for 4-5 months now,” the Liltay Token account tweeted Thursday, adding in a later post that, “We had no direct connection with the information released on Instagram.”
Meanwhile, Lil Tay has still not been seen on-camera at all. In fact, she had been out of the public eye for five years until the out-of-the-blue statement announcing her death on Wednesday.
From the jump, the circumstances surrounding the “death” were fishy. The police department in Vancouver—where Tay was believed to be living as of 2021—confirmed several times to The Daily Beast that it had no record of the deaths of Tay or her brother.
Additionally, a cast of colorful characters surrounding Tay, including an allegedly abusive mother, father and brother, all failed to confirm details surrounding the incident.
Tay’s social media manager Duane Laventure, who initially said he couldn’t comment on Tay’s apparent death under instruction from Tay’s mom, simply told The Daily Beast on Thursday afternoon, “I’m not a spokesperson.”
Producer and close family friend John Cunningham had commented on Wednesday’s death announcement, telling Tay’s mom to “call me please I’m on my way to the house.” But when reached by The Daily Beast on Thursday morning, shortly before Tay seemingly re-emerged, he claimed to be just as in-the-dark as most of the internet.
“I don’t know man. I’m really fucking confused,” he said, adding that he only answered The Daily Beast’s call “in hopes that it would have some information for me.”
In a video about the situation posted to TikTok on Wednesday, Tsang referenced his “personal psychic,” Eliza, who told The Daily Beast the following about Tay’s death announcement: “I pick up something not very real about the statement.”
Turns out Psychic Eliza was right.
—with additional reporting by Helen Holmes