Bankman-Fried’s crypto portfolio would be up billions this year — thanks to Solana
Bankman-Fried jotted down a balance sheet one day before FTX declared bankruptcy
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried | rawpixel.com/U.S. Department of State/"FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty on all counts in high-stakes trial" (CC license)
Raging crypto prices might have you gripped by fear of missing out. But no matter the frustration you’re feeling, Sam Bankman-Fried likely has it much worse.
The disgraced FTX founder has been holed up in the infamous Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center since he was found guilty of a mess of fraud charges last month — the same jail currently housing R. Kelly, Fetty Wap and the New York City subway attacker.
No doubt Bankman-Fried found trading crypto difficult since FTX went bust. Bail conditions meant he’d only have access to a flip phone that couldn’t connect to the internet and a laptop with limited functionality.
Before his $250 million bail was revoked in August due to suspected witness tampering, Bankman-Fried had spent nine months on house arrest at his parents’ multi-million home in Palo Alto.
Bankman-Fried also couldn’t open any credit lines, start a business or transact anything more than $1,000 (outside of settling legal fees).
The price of bitcoin exploded about two weeks after Bankman-Fried touched down in New York, having been extradited from the Bahamas just before Christmas.
Bitcoin (BTC) is now up about 160% since then and the total crypto market cap has swelled by nearly $900 billion.
Bankman-Fried faces perhaps more than 100 years in jail. But while he waits for his sentencing next March, he could very well be wondering: What if his risky bets actually paid off?
What if FTX survived to see Bitcoin retake $44,000?
Just one day before FTX filed for bankruptcy protection and about a week after a $5 billion bank run, Bankman-Fried mapped out the crypto exchange’s balance sheets in a table that was later shared by the Financial Times.
The sheet, reportedly dated Nov. 10, 2022, shows FTX assets worth almost $9.6 billion, with about two-thirds ($6.4 billion) able to be easily backtested.
- Crypto made up $4.9 billion with an additional $631 million in stablecoins.
- Serum (SRM) made up around half of FTX’s crypto. The token is tied to the decentralized exchange on Solana, which Bankman-Fried founded.
- Cash and stocks worth $827 million made up about 9% of the total sheet.
Turns out, FTX would be close to 40% up on its measurable portfolio, which would be now worth $9 billion — potentially up to $2.6 billion ahead. That’s despite a near 90% crash in serum (SRM), by far FTX’s biggest holding as it entered bankruptcy, per the sheet.
Bankman-Fried’s sheet doesn’t list token prices, only US dollar values, which makes it difficult to calculate the exact number of tokens on FTX’s balance sheet. There’s no guarantee the spreadsheet is complete or even totally correct (the firm’s GBTC holdings were later found to be much higher, for example).
It’s also not feasible to properly value some of more illiquid assets, such as FTX’s $1.5 billion venture capital portfolio and his half-billion stake in AI startup Anthropic.
Still, enough details lineup with bankruptcy filings that we can roughly gauge the general health of FTX’s treasury then and now.
If we take prices around those days and compare them to now, it’s clear that solana (SOL) would have made all the difference (and presumably has benefitted the bankruptcy estate extremely well).
Thanks to a stellar 400% recovery, from $14 to beyond $70 today, FTX’s $982 million SOL stake could be worth over $5 billion.
The bulk of FTX and Alameda’s SOL is still locked, pending a release schedule over the next few years. But the irony is that those gains have come, in part, due to Solana shaking the funk of its association with Bankman-Fried, who was one of the ecosystem’s biggest and loudest backers.
Now FTX just has to sell it
Aptos, the layer-1 blockchain repurposed from Meta’s failed project Diem, would’ve also helped with $312 million after its APT token more than doubled. FTX’s position would have climbed from $375 million to $690 million as a result.
Another $100 million came from gains in Robinhood stock (in real life, the latter was bought back by the online brokerage in September).
Another $69 million was sunk with the collapse of Fantom algorithmic stablecoin USD Balance, which lost its dollar peg in June. Not to mention the $2 billion in bitcoin and ether (ETH) liabilities, those have surely ballooned due to their own price rallies.
After Bankman-Fried stepped down, FTX was taken over by storied bankruptcy guru John J. Ray III, who handled Enron after its own sprawling fraud scandal. The plan for FTX is to refund 90% of recovered assets to creditors out of $8.7 billion owed in total.
Despite his attempts to maintain innocence, Bankman-Fried’s jury found him guilty on all seven criminal fraud counts.
He was legally (and morally) responsible for siphoning billions from FTX user accounts to prop up his failing hedge fund, Alameda Research, so it’s more than likely the crypto on Bankman-Fried’s balance sheet technically belonged to its users.
FTX has now been cleared to sell billions of dollars in crypto alongside large sums in crypto stocks like Grayscale’s bitcoin and ether trusts.
So, while Bankman-Fried sits in jail and perhaps thinks about whether his dumb bets would’ve paid off (which it sorta seems they would have), all we can do is hope John J. Ray and the FTX estate don’t fumble the bag.
Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 6:03 am ET: Added context.
Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.