He said he rarely visited the houses he owned, or enjoyed the things he bought. The more he bought, in fact, the less he enjoyed his bounty. Each successive purchase needed to be larger than the last to excite him – and soon it all became just "stuff."
He said the "pursuit of things" distracted him from his real joy in life, which was creating companies. He told me that too many entrepreneurs in America are just in it for the wealth, not for creating something of lasting value.
"We have over time equated entrepreneurialism with the drive to accumulate wealth," he said. "It's a perversion of values."
Of course, it's easy for someone who's lost most of their material things to become anti-materialistic. (Read more: Former Citi CEO Says 'Simpler Is Better')
Yet moving to the jungles of Belize was both an escape and a return to his roots. He said that in Belize's lax regulatory regime, starting companies was easy. He was launching a drug company to make vaccines from jungle plants. And he had launched a ferry business.
Sitting in his bedroom overlooking the jungle and a waterfall, he said, "I have all I need right here. I don't need much really."
Now, the nature of that drug company, his guns, and his unleashed "Heart of Darkness" lifestyle is being viewed through a much darker lens. He is wanted for questioning in the murder of his neighbor, who had been in a dispute with McAfee. He has told CNBC that he had nothing to do with the murder, though he remains on the run, moving every four hours. He said he fears for his life if the police catch him and has told business associates that the police are out to get him for money and political revenge.
However this odd case turns out, McAfee's Gospel of Wealth – and the path that all that wealth can lead to – is worth remembering.
-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank