Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the collapsed crypto platform FTX, is facing a trial that could land him in prison for decades. But before his downfall, he was living a lavish life that included expensive real estate, political donations, and gourmet food.
From billionaire to bankrupt
Sam Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, was once one of the richest people in the crypto world. He founded FTX in 2019, a platform that allowed customers to trade digital currencies. He also ran Alameda Research, a crypto hedge fund that made huge bets on the volatile market.
As crypto prices soared in 2021, so did SBF’s fortune and fame. He was valued at more than $30 billion at one point, making him one of the youngest billionaires in the world. He spent millions of dollars on sponsoring sports teams and celebrities, such as Tom Brady and Larry David. He also donated more than $100 million to various political causes, mostly supporting Democrats.
But his empire came crashing down in December 2021, when he was arrested and charged with fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. Prosecutors allege that he stole billions of dollars from FTX customers and investors, and used them to cover his losses at Alameda Research. He also lied to banks and regulators about the relationship between his two companies.
FTX filed for bankruptcy shortly after his arrest, leaving thousands of customers unable to access their funds. SBF pleaded not guilty to all charges and claimed that he was following legal advice at all times.
A drastic lifestyle change
Since his arrest, SBF has been living under house arrest in New York, where his trial is taking place. He has to wear an ankle monitor and report to the court regularly. He is also barred from using any electronic devices that can access the internet or communicate with anyone outside his legal team.
According to a recent article by Michael Lewis, a bestselling author who interviewed SBF for his upcoming book on crypto, SBF’s lifestyle has changed dramatically. He no longer owns any property or assets, as they have been seized or frozen by the authorities. He relies on his parents, who are both Stanford law professors, for financial support.
He also has to eat cheap food from a company called Food Co., which delivers meals to people who are under house arrest. The food is bland and repetitive, consisting mostly of rice, beans, and vegetables. SBF told Lewis that he misses eating sushi and steak, which he used to enjoy frequently.
He also said that he feels lonely and bored, as he has no friends or hobbies to keep him company. He spends most of his time reading books or playing chess with himself. He said that he regrets some of the decisions he made in his crypto career, but he still believes that he did nothing wrong.
A high-stakes trial
SBF’s trial is expected to last for six weeks and will be closely watched by the crypto industry and the public. It is one of the biggest financial fraud cases in US history and could have significant implications for the future of crypto regulation and innovation.
The prosecution has lined up several witnesses who will testify against SBF, including four of his former colleagues who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. They include Caroline Ellison, his ex-girlfriend and former chief of Alameda Research, who is expected to reveal intimate details of their relationship and business dealings.
The defense will try to portray SBF as a visionary entrepreneur who was trying to create a better financial system for the world. They will argue that he was acting in good faith and following legal advice at all times. They will also challenge the credibility and motives of the prosecution’s witnesses.
The jury will have to decide whether SBF was a fraudster who stole from his customers and investors, or a victim of a witch hunt by the government and the media.