Two of the co-founders of a Russian cryonics company called KrioRus are fighting over the ownership of dozens of frozen brains, The Daily Beast reports, a confounding disagreement that could end in disaster — that is, if the remains of the company's numerous clients aren't already a total write off.
In September, KrioRus founder Valerija Udalova took hold of a number of the company's cryonic tanks by cutting through a metal wall and loading the storage containers, known as "dewars," into the back of a truck, a stunt that drew widespread media attention.
Ever since, co-founder Danila Medvedev — the two were never legally married, according to the Daily Beast, but referred to each other as "husband" and "wife" — has been fighting to get them back, with the precious cargo changing hands on a number of occasions.
Both sides now argue they are the rightful owner of 50 frozen brains and 26 frozen bodies, according to the Daily Beast, a bizarre spat that doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture of an already scientifically dubious practice.
Medvedev told the outlet Udalova was "holding these patients hostage," while she argued that the seizure was entirely justified.
When Futurism reached out to Udalova to ask her about the September heist last year, she described the move as entirely necessary for her business.
"The dewars were almost full, but the demand is growing," Udalova told Futurism at the time. "It was planned for a long time and we moved the dewars as soon as the new facility could accommodate the dewars."
The bodies eventually made their way back to the original warehouse. Meanwhile, Medvedev told the Daily Beast that Udalova sent "Chechen bandits to my apartment, trying to scare me into giving up control."
Udalova claims she wasn't behind that visit, saying it may have instead been some of her "fans."
Then, late last year, Udalova took back control of the bodies, according to the report, with Medvedev claiming she damaged the tanks in the process.
Making matters even weirder is the fact that Russian law forbids anybody from actually owning another person's body, with Russian law enforcement operating in a regulatory vacuum.
The current whereabouts of the brains is still unknown.
But that may not even matter anymore at this point. Chances are, they, and the frozen bodies, are essentially slush at this point.
Cryogenics expert Hans Bozler from the University of Southern California told the Daily Beast that "a deterioration would be highly accelerated within minutes" following the moving of the tanks. "It’s the same as taking out a steak out of the freezer, letting it thaw and refreezing it."
Even without possible mishandling, the process of cryonically freezing patients is incredibly damaging to live tissues.
"When ice forms around tissue and eventually inside cells it can completely destroy the cell membrane and its contents," assistant professor at the Harvard Medical school and cryobiology expert Shannon Tessier told Futurism in an email last year. "So its not just a matter of finding a way to revive someone who is dead, but our basic structures, our cells, that enable all organs to do their jobs are completely destroyed."
Bozler tends to agree.
"You’re taking something that’s already been destroyed and worrying about it being more destroyed," he told the Daily Beast. "It’s hard to take [the claim] seriously because it exists in a world of nonsense."
READ MORE: They Were Russia’s Cryonics Power Couple. Now They’re Fighting Over the Frozen Brains. [The Daily Beast]
More on cryogenics: Woman Accused of Stealing Cryogenically Preserved Human Bodies