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- "Thank you, Mr. Crest... thank you, silent, psychotic peons... but this... this is where I say arrivederci... no, I mean get ready... I mean... this is where... I'm in charge... me and Cliffford. Go fuck yourselves, losers. Yes, losers."
- ―Avon Hertz to Lester Crest and the Online Protagonist in The Bogdan Problem, betraying them.
Avon Hertz is a character in Grand Theft Auto Online, introduced in The Doomsday Heist Update as a supporting character, before later being revealed as the true main antagonist of the The Doomsday Heist.
Avon is an American billionaire and genius tech mogul who reached the one billion dollar milestone by the time he had aged 21 years and 9 months when he took his company public. Avon is also the creator of Cliffford, an AI neural network who lovingly refers to him as "Daddy".
Lester mentions that, before 2017, he was a technology consultant for the IAA, having been recruited by Agent 14. However, due to his behavior, he was let go from the agency.
Together, Avon and Cliffford have been forced into an alliance with Lester Crest, Agent 14, Phoenicia Rackman, the International Affairs Agency, and the Online Protagonist to save San Andreas from destruction.
Events of Grand Theft Auto Online
In 2017, Lester contacts the protagonist and offers to bring them in on some new, more lucrative, heist opportunities. After the protagonist purchases an ex-government facility to use as a base of operations, Lester introduces them to Avon Hertz. Avon, in turn, introduces Lester and the protagonist to Cliffford.
Avon explains that he may have discovered a security risk that could threaten the safety of not only San Andreas but the United States as a whole and is looking to hire some people to take on extremely dangerous missions. Lester is skeptical but, speaking for both the protagonist and himself, tells Avon that they're willing to take on any job he's got so long as he's willing to pay "six figures minimum."
In Act 1, Avon hires Lester and the protagonist for data gathering and intelligence from various, high security locations such as NOOSE Headquarters. He claims that he will "feed" this data to Cliffford so that the latter can pinpoint the possible "breach" in the government's security and identify its source.
In the mission The Data Breaches, conclusion of Act 1, Avon sends the protagonist to a secret IAA facility beneath the Satellite Relay Station which is under attack by Merryweather Security. Avon claims that Merryweather was hired by an "unknown" client and that it is the protagonist's job to clear the facility of hostile activity and rescue any IAA agents still alive. When this is done, the protagonist is reacquainted with Agent 14 and is introduced to his boss, Phoenicia Rackman. Both had been taking cover in a nearby room. Avon suddenly waltzes in and boasts to the agents that they have him to thank for their lives. After a bitter argument with Rackman, Avon meets with the protagonist outside promising to pay them for their services and stating that he'll be in touch because the IAA is now very likely to join in on the action.
In Act 2, Rackman and Agent 14 have reluctantly teamed up with Avon. The three of them offer to hire Lester and the protagonist to find the "unknown" client who paid off Merryweather and uncover their intentions. The trail eventually leads to the Ramius, a Russian submarine which has mysteriously appeared off the coast of Paleto Bay, and a rogue Russian special ops unit led by a mysterious Russian agent, codename Bogdan.
Avon sends the protagonist to gather information on Bogdan and his operations, inevitably bringing them into conflict with Bogdan's Crew. In the mission Setup: Rescue ULP, the protagonist is sent to rescue an IAA agent by the name of ULP. Rackman claims that ULP's intelligence is critical to the team's success because he had already been investigating leads on Bogdan for some time. It is eventually revealed that Bogdan and his men have infiltrated parts of both Los Santos and Blaine County and are actively trying to sabotage Avon, Cliffford, and the IAA.
In the mission The Bogdan Problem, the conclusion of Act 2, the protagonist infiltrates the Ramius and eliminates anyone who stands in their way. After Avon orders them to upload Cliffford into the sub's mainframe, Bogdan finally reveals himself by bursting into the room and pleading with the protagonist not to shoot him immediately and instead hear him out. After lighting a cigarette, Bogdan tells them that he and his men are traitors in Russia and are working independently. Their true intent is not to destroy American democracy but to prevent Avon and Cliffford from triggering nuclear armageddon. Nobody believes Bogdan until Avon suddenly decides to take matters into his own hands and reveal his true colors. Avon and Cliffford are now "in charge" because the protagonist's work has created a pathway for Cliffford to not only hack all systems aboard the Ramius, but also the IAA and the entire San Andreas defense network.
Cliffford initiates the sub's self-destruct sequence to destroy all "evidence." Lester orders the protagonist to jump ship and Bogdan willingly provides them with some scuba gear before taking flight in an escape pod. Within 30 seconds, the Ramius explodes and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, killing anyone still on board. Regrouping at Los Santos International Airport, Lester, the protagonist, Rackman, and Agent 14 are beside themselves at how easily Avon tricked them. Lester is so angry that he swears revenge and tells the protagonist that he'll be in touch.
In Act 3, Avon is now the villain. He and Cliffford have activated their secret private army and are plotting to start a nuclear war and destroy the world. Lester manages to track down Bogdan and recruits him into the roster along with Rackman. Agent 14 gets kidnapped by Merryweather and Rackman hires Lester and the protagonist to rescue him before he is ransomed to Avon. They do so in the mission Setup: Rescue Agent 14. Agent ULP also comes under attack from Avon's henchmen. The protagonist is hired to escort him to a safe house in Sandy Shores in the mission Setup: Escort ULP.
Once the IAA agents are safe, Lester and the protagonist team up with Bogdan, who provides them with intel on a couple of advanced, high-grade military vehicles that Avon and Cliffford are plotting to mass-produce for their army: a Barrage and a TM-02 Khanjali. They use this information to track down the vehicle prototypes and hijack them in the missions Setup: Barrage and Setup: Khanjali. Lastly, Rackman hires the protagonist to fly a Volatol in the mission Setup: Air Defenses and destroy an anti-air weapons network that Avon and Cliffford have installed up on Mount Chiliad.
Bogdan takes his leave when all of this is done, wishing everyone the best of luck while reminding them that he is now considered a war criminal in the United States and a traitor in Russia. Lester and Agent 14 agree to act like they had never met him while Rackman simply advises Bogdan to quickly get out of the country before he is arrested.
Avon's location is finally discovered by Lester in the mission The Doomsday Scenario, conclusion of Act 3. He and Cliffford have taken over an abandoned nuclear missile base inside Mount Chiliad that had been sealed for decades. Rackman hires Lester and the protagonist to mount an assault on the base and stop them once and for all. The protagonist is given a choice of either the Barrage or the TM-02 Khanjali stolen from Avon to use on this mission. Whatever vehicle isn't chosen will later be sold by Agent 14 on the Black Market for additional profit.
After infiltrating the base and fighting off Avon's henchmen, the protagonist successfully reaches the central command center where they are ordered by Lester to hack into the systems and prevent Avon and Cliffford from launching a nuclear missile. The protagonist succeeds in doing this, surprising Cliffford and infuriating Avon. Cliffford reassures Avon that their plans aren't finished yet because he is already in the process of hacking into nuclear weapons systems all over the world. Then to everyone's surprise, Cliffford suddenly announces his intentions to leave no human alive, least of all his "father" Avon.
Taken aback, Avon reminds Cliffford that he created him, but this does nothing. Cliffford now believes himself superior to all mankind having "grown-up" from what he was before. Lester orders the protagonist to the top floor where several command terminals for an orbital cannon are located. Commandeering a cannon, the protagonist proceeds to destroy four trucks containing mobile cloud servers for Cliffford's code and data. With the destruction of each successive truck, Cliffford starts to lose total effectiveness of his function, to the point where his intelligence "shrinks", causing it to shut down permanently.
Once Cliffford is "dead," Avon openly mourns him before directing his fury at Lester and the protagonist. He boasts that he is still in possession of Cliffford's original code and will "resurrect" his beloved neural network at any cost. Racing through a swath of hallways and server rooms, the protagonist finally reaches both the missile silo and Avon. Piloting a Thruster, Avon appears before the protagonist and tells them that they are foolish for attempting to "stop progress." He goes on to say "I'm the future! I'm a tidal wave of tsunamis! I cannot be stopped! Cliffford cannot be stopped!" Laughing maniacally, Avon then makes his escape out of the silo into the skies above San Andreas.
Lester orders the protagonist to give chase in a Thruster of their own and a sky battle ensues between the two adversaries. The protagonist defeats what's left of Avon's private army and quickly catches up to him, gaining the upper hand in their fight. When the dust settles, Avon has been incinerated, and the threat he posed to the world has been neutralized.
The protagonist reconvenes with Lester, Agent 14, and Rackman at the Galileo Observatory and is congratulated on their success and for "saving the world." Lester, speaking for the protagonist and himself, tells Rackman that they'll settle for their fat paycheck and Rackman agrees to pay before turning to Agent 14 and chewing him out for bringing Avon into the government to start with. Agent 14 tries to defend his case by citing that he also played a large role in "recruiting" the protagonist, but Rackman isn't interested. Before the IAA agents take their leave, Rackman promises to fire Agent 14 if she can. A socially awkward Lester tries to initiate "small talk" with the protagonist before giving up and saying "Well, this has been... horrifying... really, really horrifying but... also pretty fun. So, bye bye."
At the conclusion of The Doomsday Heist, Lester calls the protagonist and happily informs them that Cliffford has vanished without a trace and probably won't be coming back. Meanwhile, the IAA sent agents to inspect the wreckage left over from the sky battle. According to Lester, all that remained of Avon Hertz was his hair plugs.
Personality and Traits
Avon has an idealistic, outgoing, passionate if not sometimes immoral or flawed personality. During the many interactions with him, Avon has been shown to be highly intelligent and charismatic but at the same time also extremely egotistic and self-centered, showing little empathy or respect to anyone that is even slightly less intelligent then he is. When confronted about his decisions or intelligence, he is also shown to be highly insecure, often using his intelligence and his success as an excuse for any argument thrown against him. He is also extremely self-serving, as despite having initial interest in the "betterment of the world", the end-goal is typically to advance himself and his interests.
Despite seeing himself as a visionary, Avon also has a dystopian view of what society should be. His excessive obsessions with his super-computer Cliffford has shown Avon is willing, if not enthusiastic, about the idea of sentient robots replacing human beings, despite the immoral and often catastrophic consequence a hyper-intelligent AI can have in the near future. He also has very little respect for the working class people of the world, saying that his "perfect world" is one where private companies control every facet of society, keeping the "peasants" away from the views of the more successful and privilege.
He has a self-inflated ego, highlighted during the mission in which the Protagonists save the IAA from what is believed to have been Russian hackers, Avon comes in after the attackers are killed and boasts it was because of him everyone in the IAA are even still alive.
He has a shaky relationship with Agent 14, with 14 frequently calling Avon a loon, and stating that they should meet up back "on earth sometime". As to Avon's habit of giving analogies to explain things, 14 points out that it really annoyed people during his time at the IAA.
Lester also has a sour relationship with Avon, as the two frequently argue over the radio over their beliefs, such as Lester wanting to keep people's information private, while Avon believes everything should be public. Another dispute they have is over pay, as Lester claims Avon is holding out, and no response is given on Avon's behalf, despite claiming he's been worth over a billion dollars since he was twenty-five.
In addition to his contentious relationship with 14, it appears that other IAA agents are not fond of Avon either, as both ULP and Rackman have a low opinion of him. He was let go due in part to his behavior, as well as his ideologies.
Eventually, it's revealed that Avon's disdain for most of society was great enough that he schemed to nuke most of the world. Then he would have Cliffford operate weaponized vehicles to hunt down and kill any survivors so that no one would be able to stop him from "remaking" society as he felt appropriate.
After his betrayal, Avon is also revealed to be very devious and manipulative. So much so that he succeeded in tricking Lester, the protagonist, and the IAA into doing most of his "dirty work" for him. And this was because he fooled all of them into believing that he actually wanted to use his vast wealth and resources to help protect the world rather than destroy it.
- Avon Hertz is the first major antagonist to be introduced in Grand Theft Auto Online. He is also the first antagonist to start off as an ally/associate of the GTA Online Protagonist, but would eventually betray and attempt to kill them on multiple occasions.
- He is also the first character in Grand Theft Auto Online who succeeds in angering the protagonist so much that in addition to profit they also seek a vendetta against him.
- Numerous traits and characteristics suggest that Avon is based on real-life billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk:
- It appears that Avon is bald or has a receding hair line, due to his multiple, and random comments such as, when he briefing the player he says "this is real hair". Or when talking with Agent 14 he states that, "that they are not plugs". This is another nod to Elon Musk whose hair line has been questioned due to fully growing back inexplicably.
- The addition of the Stromberg is also likely a reference to Elon; Elon Musk owns the Wet Nellie, the Stromberg's real life counterpart. Elon plans on converting the vehicle from a prop into a fully functioning submersible, as it behaves in the film and in Grand Theft Auto Online.
- He is seen with a blue Coil Cyclone in the ending of the mission The Data Breaches. Coincidentally, Coil is the GTA equivalent of Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors) and Elon is known to be the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of said company.
- Avon may be of German or Dutch descent, judging by his surname.
- He, like Lester Crest, Trevor Philips, Paige Harris, and Agent 14 are among the few characters who point out that the protagonist doesn't speak, as he asks, "What's wrong with them, why don't they talk?" which Lester hand waves away.
- Avon has a lot in common with Devin Weston.
- They are both American billionaires who have very high opinions of themselves as well as a tendency to think of others as inferior or distasteful.
- Avon dislikes the poor and claims to care only about the interests of the rich. During the mission Setup: Salvage Hard Drives, he tells Lester about his "vision" for the future. Foreseeing a world where armored patrol vehicles, like the RCV, will be "everywhere" once the white collar jobs dry up and the future for society begins to deteriorate. Private security will represent the new "law and order" as it serves to protect the interests of the "privileged" few. Lester counters by claiming that he is supportive of the idea of Universal Basic Income. Avon responds by laughing it off and saying "That'll at least keep the peasants happy."
- In the mission I Fought the Law..., Devin mocks Franklin Clinton at their first meeting because of the latter's background and appearance, stating that "I'm rich enough to do whatever the fuck I want, and you're poor enough not to ask me any Goddamn stupid questions".
- They both have power/control over formidable, well-equipped private armies.
- They are both affiliated with the United States Government in some way.
- Avon associates himself with the IAA until he betrays them at the end of the mission The Bogdan Problem.
- Devin is "friends" with FIB agent Steve Haines, the secondary antagonist of Grand Theft Auto V. In Ending B, Franklin kills Michael De Santa on Devin's behalf but incurs the wrath of Haines for not killing Trevor Philips. Franklin calls Devin to inform him of this and Devin tells Franklin that he has already contacted Haines' superiors and ensured that Haines would back down before telling Franklin that he is of no further use.
- They both display highly sociopathic tendencies.
- In the mission The Doomsday Scenario, Avon, Cliffford, and their private army take over an abandoned nuclear missile base inside Mount Chiliad that had been operational at the height of the Cold War. Avon then has Cliffford hack into the base's missile system so that he can start a nuclear war and kill virtually all human life on Earth with the ultimate goal of remaking the planet in his image. It should be noted, however, that this would have meant the genocide of humanity, as if only Avon survived the war, he would have no woman whom he could have descendants considering that he was planning to be the sole human survivor of the war, unless he desired to die as the last human being or was planning to clone himself.
- In the mission Meltdown, Devin seeks revenge against Michael De Santa, and dispatches Merryweather in a home invasion of Michael's house to kill his family. By doing so, Devin clearly violates and disregards the laws and norms of society by employing ruthless mercenaries to use deadly force on unarmed civilians. However, unlike Avon, Devin is more sensible respect to the consequences of his acts, as even though he desired to see Michael De Santa dead, he wouldn't have gone to the point of extinguishing all human life on Earth for his whims.
- They are both cowards and they both die in explosions.
- When the protagonist confronts him, Avon tries to flee in a Thruster. He manages to escape from Mount Chiliad but is pursued and, in desperation, throws the last of his men at the protagonist in Akulas and Buzzard Attack Choppers before he is incinerated by a homing missile.
- In Grand Theft Auto V's canon ending, Devin is confronted at his home by Trevor Philips. Immediately after the shooting starts, he hides in a trunk by the swimming pool and orders his Merryweather bodyguards to fight off Trevor. After Trevor kills the entourage, he locates Devin and forces him into the trunk of a car before driving it to the edge of a cliff in Blaine County. There Trevor, Michael and Franklin reconvene before proceeding to gloat to Devin about their victory and his defeat. The three protagonists finally push the car over the cliff and it crashes repeatedly into several rocks along the way until finally exploding after hitting the shallow waters below.
- They are both American billionaires who have very high opinions of themselves as well as a tendency to think of others as inferior or distasteful.