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S.B.F.’s Media Dreams

Sam Bankman-Fried
Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested on Monday in the Bahamas. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
June 14, 2022

Crypto winter has come for Silicon Valley. Bitcoin has fallen below $23,000, the lowest level since 2020, and crypto lender Celsius just froze withdrawals, citing “extreme market conditions,” shortly after another crypto ecosystem, Terra-Luna, also collapsed. Some $2 trillion in crypto market value has evaporated since last November. Coinbase C.E.O. Brian Armstrong is laying off 18 percent of his staff in anticipation of a prolonged downturn for the industry.

You’d think that might be a setback for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who appeared alongside supermodel Gisele Bündchen in a poorly-timed New Yorker spread this week advertising their shared “passion for creating positive change.” Bankman-Fried, after all, has turned his multibillion-dollar crypto fortune into an engine for his super-sized philanthropic ventures, some of which might plausibly be endangered by the recent implosion of the crypto economy. But S.B.F.—with his growing celebrity and political ambitions—is, in many ways, now a brand that rivals crypto itself. The other week he suggested that he might spend as much as $1 billion on the 2024 election, a comment that would be written off as absurd had it come from anyone else.