“If you made this into a movie, people wouldn’t believe it,” David Boies told me last week, marveling at the collapse of FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried before stepping onto his 184-foot sailboat en route to St. Barths. “It’d be interesting even if you took three zeroes off of what happened.” Boies, the ubiquitous lawyer who has represented Elizabeth Holmes, Al Gore, Harvey Weinstein, and the victims of Jeffrey Epstein, should know. He has, after all, executive produced 15 movies. (He was also engaged by the current WaPo C.E.O. Fred Ryan in a messy bygone D.C. media exit that ended up going nowhere, as my partner Dylan Byers recently reported.) The S.B.F. saga, he told me, is one of the most fascinating cases of his career.
Boies, now 81, was in need of a brief vacation. His caseload includes hounding Google on privacy and antitrust fronts, representing an Italian luxury heiress in a deliciously juicy fight that’s causing a mess in the financial community (more on that later), and, perhaps most surprising, leading a set of extraordinary lawsuits targeting the cryptocurrency industry.
It’s no simple task to recover money from a company or executive in the full throes of bankruptcy. Wall Street traders are increasingly optimistic that some money can be salvaged from FTX after C.E.O. John J. Ray III, the attorney overseeing the bankruptcy, floated the possibility of restarting the crypto exchange. But these salvage efforts can take years—just ask Irving Picard, who continues to hunt for Bernie Madoff’s stolen money. And litigants like Boies typically have to wait at the back of the line, behind investors, creditors, and the feds, in a sprawling criminal case such as this.