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HomeUSA newsFTX Collapse: Storm Breezes Over Sam Bankman-Fried's Crypto Bahamas Conference as A-list...

FTX Collapse: Storm Breezes Over Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Bahamas Conference as A-list Friends Shut Down

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Months before his $32 billion fall from grace, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried drew world leaders, celebrities, and arguably the NFL’s best quarterback to a $50 mascot project cryptocurrency conference. 3,000 a head at an exclusive resort near their Bahamas headquarters.

It was the inaugural conference at what organizers said they hoped to become “the world’s leading institutional event for digital assets.” FTX and SALT, which co-sponsored the forum, said 2,000 people attended from April 26-29. The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip “Brave” Davis, personally welcomed them from the convention center stage.

Keynote speakers included former President Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as Tom Brady. Gisele Bundchen, Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry also featured prominently. Perry is one of two people Bankman-Fried follows on Instagram.

Brady and Bundchen have been named co-defendants in a class action lawsuit alleging $11 billion in damages stemming from the collapse of FTX, which the company’s new CEO described as “a complete failure of corporate controls.”

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(L-R) Lauren Remington Platt, Sam Bankman-Fried, Gisele Bündchen appear at the FTX Salt Crypto Bahamas conference on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
(BFA.com)

The conference began on a Tuesday with a series of receptions and ended with a “VIP Pool Party” four days later at the upscale Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, a two-tower five-star hotel in the heart of the Baha Mar resort complex, which opened in 2017. The beachside resort features a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, casinos, a water park, and a wildlife sanctuary.

“It’s been a wild last few years for the industry,” Bankman-Fried told the audience on the second day. “This is such a different environment than the first crypto conference I attended, which was in 2018.”

A general view of the 405-yard par 4, 13th hole at Royal Blue, The Golf Club at Baha Mar on November 29, 2018 in Nassau, Bahamas.

A general view of the 405-yard par 4, 13th hole at Royal Blue, The Golf Club at Baha Mar on November 29, 2018 in Nassau, Bahamas.
(David Cannon/Getty Images)

A month before the conference, the resort received the royal treatment, with a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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The stars and influential world leaders were photographed smiling and enjoying the atmosphere at the conference, but none responded to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment by press time on Friday.

Sam Bankman-Fried poses with Gisele Bündchen at the FTX Salt Crypto Bahamas conference on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Sam Bankman-Fried poses with Gisele Bündchen at the FTX Salt Crypto Bahamas conference on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
(BFA.com)

During the conference, Bloom, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, posted a joyous Instagram photo with Bankman-Fried, in which they both tied up their long hair.

“Like looking in a mirror,” the star wrote in the caption, tagging the soon-to-be-disgraced Democratic mega-donor. “@sbf_ftx #cryptobahamas.”

Under the same hashtag, users can find fan selfies with the stars on Instagram and Twitter.

Tom Brady was the keynote speaker at the April Crypto Bahamas conference co-hosted by FTX and its now-disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.

Tom Brady was the keynote speaker at the April Crypto Bahamas conference co-hosted by FTX and its now-disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried.
(Kevin Mazur/Wire Image)

Bankman-Fried, an American expatriate who moved his cryptocurrency business to the Bahamas due to its lax regulatory environment, personally introduced his keynote speakers onstage for two nights of the conference.

The first was Brady, on Wednesday, for a discussion titled simply “Winning,” in which the future Hall of Famer vowed to try for another record-breaking Super Bowl victory.

Bankman-Fried, who has not responded to multiple requests for comment, hosted Clinton and Blair on Thursday for an “off the record” discussion on “The World Today.”

However, audio from the VIP-only panel was obtained by TrustNodes, a crypto trading publication, which reveals that Clinton advocated a “do no harm” regulatory approach.

“It looks great and of course they are two big names,” the outlet reported, presciently adding, “But it’s a bit fake, isn’t it?”

Politico, who obtained a partial transcript, added that the former president also warned of a “temptation to abuse” emerging technologies.

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Within months, Bankman-Fried would be under investigation in several countries with that question in mind.

Guests would gather on the resort’s Jasmine Lawn, outside its sprawling convention center, for breakfast each morning.

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The Palm Lawn at Baha Mar overlooks the ocean.  It is where the guests of Crypto Bahamas would gather to "yoga at sunrise" sessions during the April conference.

The Palm Lawn at Baha Mar overlooks the ocean. It is where guests from Crypto Bahamas gathered for “Sunrise Yoga” sessions during the April conference.
(Fox Digital News)

At the same time, sunrise yoga was offered on the oceanfront Palm Lawn, where visitors can get a view of the sea or pose for photos with a flock of flamingos.

A flock of flamingos near where Crypto Bahamas guests gathered for morning yoga sessions.

A flock of flamingos near where Crypto Bahamas guests gathered for morning yoga sessions.
(Fox Digital News)

Guests returned to the Jasmine Lawn for networking lunches each day.

Most of the presentations were in a panel format, with a moderator and speakers on stage discussing cryptocurrency-related topics.

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The wind blows palm leaves on a cloudy day on the beach at the Baha Mar resort on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas.

The wind blows palm leaves on a cloudy day on the beach at the Baha Mar resort on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas.
(Fox Digital News)

Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate and math-minded entrepreneur, took the stage alongside Blockchain Association CEO Kristin Smith for a discussion titled “How Governments Can Empower People With Cryptography.”

And “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary joined Jeremy Allaire and former Trump White House spokesman Anthony Scaramucci, who helped organize the event, to delve into Wall Street’s flirtations with crypto markets.

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, during the Bloomberg Cryptocurrency Summit in New York, USA, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, during the Bloomberg Cryptocurrency Summit in New York, USA, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
(Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Other speakers included numerous technology and business journalists, including Susan Li of FOX Business Network.

The lineup gave Bankman-Fried an air of credibility months before its obscure cryptocurrency platform and sister hedge fund collapsed overnight.

Two speakers from Coinbase, a longtime rival of FTX and the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, participated in panels focused on a cryptocurrency-based financial system and digital asset infrastructure.

Jasmine Lawn in Baha Mar, where visitors from Crypto Bahamas gathered to share meals during the April conference.

Jasmine Lawn in Baha Mar, where visitors from Crypto Bahamas gathered to share meals during the April conference.
(Fox Digital News)

“We often speak at industry conferences,” a company spokeswoman said.

The event was a success, according to the organizers, and in June they announced a follow-up for 2023.

“We are excited to welcome the crypto community to the Bahamas in 2023,” Bankman-Fried said at the time. “Our inaugural Crypto Bahamas conference was a huge success and brought some of the industry’s biggest innovators to the island to collaborate on the continued collaboration between TradFi, crypto and DeFi. Everyone at FTX is looking forward to revealing our plans as they unfold. we grow and better for next year’s conference”.

But when Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the CEO of cryptocurrency giant Binance, took a look at Bankman-Field’s financials, he said he saw red flags and downloaded roughly $500 million of FTX’s FTT token, quickly led to collapse.

“I was lying to everyone,” he told Li on Friday morning. “This guy will probably be in a lot of trouble, most likely going to jail.”

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SALT did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they were still planning to host the second conference after the FTX collapse. The communications firm that had previously represented FTX for Crypto Bahamas said it was no longer working with the company on Friday.

Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo, Megan Henney and Matteo Cina contributed to this report.

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