December 5, 2022

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Inside disgraced crypto king’s luxurious life in the Bahamas

7 min read

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EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Sam Bankman-Fried spent a massive amount of money during his year in the Bahamas — before his crypto empire collapsed and declared bankruptcy after allegedly mishandling the funds of as many as a million clients.

He bought a $40 million penthouse with views of the water on three sides and a $60 million plot where he "broke ground" on FTX’s future headquarters but never began construction. When visited Sunday, the site was a fenced off tract of weeds with a view of the Atlantic.

Bankman-Fried allegedly doled out tens of thousands of dollars a week to feed his Bahamas-based staff before his $32 billion crypto empire collapsed. Additionally, there is his multimillion-dollar, 52-foot HCB yacht.

He donated millions to the local government and Bahamian charities – prompting local media to report, "FTX tentacles stretched far across Bahamas."

General view of The Albany Penthouse and surroundings, taken Nov. 20, 2022, in Nassau, Bahamas. Sam Bankman-Fried, who is believed to still be on the island with his parents, was one of the richest people in crypto, thanks to his FTX exchange and Ala (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

"They were walking around the Bahamas making it rain," a Ukrainian ex-pat working in finance on the island told Fox News Digital Sunday.

However, John Ray, who was appointed FTX CEO after Bankman-Fried revealed his financial troubles, filed for bankruptcy and resigned, said in court filings that FTX and its dozens of sister companies lacked functional accounting and human resources departments, and Bankman-Fried had received a $1 billion personal loan from one of his own firms.

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"Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here," he wrote, after noting twice he had worked on Enron's collapse, in a court filing this week. "From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented."

A view of the beach at The Albany in Nassau, Bahamas near the home of Sam Bankman-Fried, Friday, November 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

Ray, the attorney who oversaw the $23 billion bankruptcy of Enron in 2001, added that he did "not have confidence" in FTX's balance sheets.

A filing on Nov. 19 revealed the exchange owes its 50 biggest creditors nearly $3.1 billion, all of which are customers, although the document did not name them. The companies’ total liabilities are estimated at more than $10 billion. An estimated million customers and other investors are facing combined losses in the billions of dollars.

A view of the beach at The Albany in Nassau, Bahamas near the home of Sam Bankman-Fried, Friday, November 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

For his part, Bankman-Fried declined to answer Fox News Digital when asked if his Bahamas shopping spree had been paid for with client assets. He also declined multiple requests for an interview.

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Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder and chief executive officer of FTX, in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Fox News)

At Cocoplum, a boutique bistro just down the street from FTX’s headquarters on New Providence Island, he spent $2,500 a day, staff members said.

It is the type of place where a lone diner will spend $80 and change for a New York strip steak and two Diet Cokes.

A photo taken Nov. 19, 2022, in Nassau, Bahamas, shows a general view of Cocoplum Restaurant, where it is believed FTX spent a lot of money on food. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

Workers said the restaurant was just one of several local caterers to deliver lunch on a regular basis, for a combined cost of about $10,000 a day.

A photo taken Nov. 19, 2022, in Nassau, Bahamas, shows a general view of Cocoplum Restaurant, where it is believed FTX spent a lot of money on food. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

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FTX employees also came in during business hours with guests for lunch meetings, staff said. However, they never returned for happy hour, according to one bartender.

"They’re geeks man," he said. "They don’t hang out."

FTX employed about 300 people on the island, although a complete employee roster was unavailable, according to Ray's court filings.

General view of The Albany Penthouse and surrounds in Nassau, Bahamas.A view of the beach at The Albany in Nassau, Bahamas, Friday, November 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

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A handful of inner-circle executives lived with Bankman-Fried in his oceanfront penthouse, inside the ultra-exclusive Albany Resort. The 600-acre private community includes a mega-yacht marina, a private school and a golf course designed by co-owner Ernie Els. There is a Wall Street bull statue on a lawn at the heart of the compound — and a complimentary "Fearless Girl" sculpture overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Bankman-Fried lives on top of a yacht-shaped low-rise, with views of the marina, the ocean and the edgy architecture of the rest of the complex. He and his inner circle reportedly experimented with prescription stimulants and polyamory – or having multiple romantic relationships at once – while grifting billions of dollars from their clientele.

Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison was reportedly among Sam Bankman-Fried’s inner circle roommates at the Orchid 6 penthouse in the Albany Resort. (Twitter @carolinecapital)

Albany, around the horn from the disgraced fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s waterfront, ancient temple-themed estate, is owned by Tiger Woods, Els, Justin Timberlake and the British financier Joe Lewis, whose 322-foot, $150 million live-on super yacht was seen floating offshore all weekend. It is actually too big for the Albany Marina – which is designed to support luxury vessels up to 250 feet in length.

General view of a yacht which belongs to Joe Lewis, owner of The Albany Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, seen on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

Forbes in 2019 called the Albany community "one of the most exclusive resorts in the world."

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A photo taken Nov. 19, 2022, in Nassau, Bahamas, shows a view of the building site where the new FTX offices were poised to be built. | Fox News

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Crews rake the beaches every time the tide drops to clear away seaweed and other debris. A pile of sand near the jetty is used to freshen up the narrow beachfront.

There is a hotel on the grounds, where a woman who answered the phone sent documentation showing costs of $5,100 a night for members only, plus tax. Membership begins at $6,000. 

General view of The Albany Penthouse, and surrounds in Nassau, Bahamas Friday, November 19, 2022. (Credit: AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

At Bankman-Fried's penthouse hideout Sunday, the curtains were drawn, but a single floor-to-ceiling window was open, drapes dancing in a light Bahama breeze — until someone pulled it closed.

A passing yachtsman said he used to run into Bankman-Fried, who has his on 52-foot, multimillion-dollar HCB vessel, regularly.

A view of the penthouse balcony at The Albany in Nassau, Bahamas which belongs to Sam Bankman-Fried, Friday, November 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

"Since all that happened, nobody’s seen him," he told Fox News Digital. "I park my boat right there. Used to see him every day."

A woman on the beach said she knew Bankman-Fried, that he was still living in the penthouse and declined to discuss the FTX situation.

The grounds of the Albany are closed off to the public. Restaurants, clubs and other venues inside are for members only; however, FTX employees were said to appear all over the island prior to the collapse.

Baha Mar, a towering five-star resort that can be seen at sea, from the far side of the island, is the heart of the local nightlife, locals told Fox News Digital.

A view of the FTX offices on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, taken Nov. 19, 2022. (AJ Skuy for Fox News Digital / Fox News)

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Several said the wealthy FTX employees may join the rest of the island's partying population there. However, while the crypto crowd can stand out among tourists and trendy locals, no one encountered by Fox News Digital said they’d worked for FTX before the collapse.

"It shows we’re open for digital exploration, but it also shows we’re open for scams," one patron, who said he worked in marketing, said. "What really matters is how they respond to these guys."

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.