An icon of the crypto world lost nearly all of his $15.6 billion fortune in one day this week as a top rival swept in to bail out his cash-strapped digital currency exchange.
Sam Bankman-Fried, a crypto evangelist and entrepreneur whose wealth peaked at $26 billion, is now worth $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. The collapse in his wealth was the biggest-ever one-day drop tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Bankman-Fried, also known by his initials SBF, is the head of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that was valued at $32 billion earlier this year in a deal that raised $400 million. FTX is now on the verge of collapse, struggling to maintain liquidity for users to withdraw their funds.
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, came to the rescue on Tuesday with a non-binding offer to acquire FTX, a key rival, and “help cover the liquidity crunch,” TechCrunch reported.
Bloomberg reported that all but $1 billion of Bankman-Fried’s fortune was expected to be wiped out in the Binance deal. But that deal is now moot, with Binance announcing Wednesday that “the issues are beyond our control or ability to help,” leaving the fate of Bankman-Fried’s billions even less clear.
As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity in recent years, Bankman-Fried drew attention for the the eye-popping digital wealth he generated, as well as confident statements, including that buying Goldman Sachs would not be “out of the question at all.” Bankman-Fried also generated headlines with his pledge to one day donate most of his health.
Bankman-Fried had also been described as the face of crypto in Washington D.C., where he testified before Congress to explain cryptocurrency and advocate for its mainstream adoption.
The collapse of the exchange he launched in 2019 is another bump in a rough year for crypto. The price of leading cryptocurrency Bitcoin has been on a downward trajectory since late last year, and another prominent exchange, Celsius, froze its users assets before filing for bankruptcy over the summer.