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From Paradise to Courtroom: Sam Bankman-Fried’s $35 Million Bahamas Property

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Sam Bankman-Fried. Source: a video screenshot, Forbes / YouTube

Prior to his crypto empire’s collapse eleven months ago, disgraced FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) lived on a lavish Bahamas property alongside nine close friends, accomplices, and fellow executives.

Some of those executives included FTX co-founder Gary Wang and SBF’s ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, who he appointed to lead FTX’s sister hedge fund Alameda Research. Today those same two executives testify against  Bankman-Fried, in court having pled guilty to their own acts of fraud.  

During the first week of the ex-billionaire’s trial, prosecutors dug into how exactly the group paid for their luxurious 11-500 square foot home.

Government lawyers presented a series of photos featuring “Orchid,” a penthouse Condo in which the co-workers reside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Orchid is considered the crown jewel of the 600-acre Albany oceanside resort and features backing from numerous wealthy celebrities including Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake.

In his own testimony, senior FTX developer Adam Yedidia said Alameda was responsible for buying the $35 million penthouse. The government included into evidence a text exchange from Bankman-Fried in which he admitted that he’d “been assuming that it’s basically just Alameda paying for it in the end.”

Michael Lewis captured the penthouse’s glamor in an excerpt from his new book on Bankman-Fried, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon.” He wrote:

“At night its penthouse was lit purple, and the purple light made it seem glamorous, and elicited envy even from those accustomed to being envied.”

Alameda’s Sheer Debt

Yedidia said that he and Bankman-Fried spoke about concerns the latter had about FTX’s business outside the resort, near a group of six stadium-lit padel courts. Yedidia said he discovered an $8 billion debt that Alameda owed FTX in the summer of 2022, which matched the shortfall FTX faced on customer deposits when it finally collapsed last year.

“Because if they spend the money that belongs to the FTX customers, then it’s not there to give the FTX customers should they withdraw,” Yedidia testified.

Yedidia said he resigned from FTX a day before it filed for bankruptcy after a fellow developer told him the exchange had used customer deposits to pay back Alameda’s creditors. According to Ellison’s testimony on Tuesday, Alameda had taken upwards of $10 billion from FTX customers to pay off creditors, all at Bankman-Fried’s order.