On Thursday, The New York Times published cringy, private ramblings written by Sam Bankman-Fried, in which he attempted to justify his actions, reflected on his public image, and reminisced on the good times he had, including a night with crypto contemporaries in 2019 centering on “booze and women and lasers and loud, booming music.”
The surprising twist: Bankman-Fried had leaked the documents himself.
The former billionaire gave a copy of the screed earlier this year to a crypto investor and influencer named Tiffany Fong; she passed them on to the Times. Originally, he had contemplated posting the 15,000-word document to Twitter, but apparently he thought better of it. The document had the working title, “a draft of a draft of a draft of an idea.”
In the meandering memo, which reportedly featured high school photographs, links to music videos, and a screenshot from the movie Inception, Bankman-Fried seemed distressed about his decimated reputation but also appeared to lack personal accountability.
At times, the article noted, he cast aspersions on his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, who oversaw his hedge fund, Alameda Research. (Ellison pleaded guilty to federal charges last year.)
“She continually avoided talking about risk management—dodging my suggestions—until it was too late,” he claimed. “Every time that I reached out with suggestions, it just made her feel worse. I’m sure that being exes didn’t help.”
To critics, including prosecutors and at least one of Bankman-Fried’s former employees, that argument glosses over allegations that he and his team illegally pilfered funds from his crypto exchange, FTX, to fund other business interests.
In the document, Bankman-Fried also recounted happier times, like the 2019 boozy conference where he mingled with another crypto luminary, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, on a night that left him feeling fancied. “I walked by CZ a few more times, and each time he broke eye contact with his eye candy and embraced me: People were thinking about us, a lot,” he wrote.
Around that time, when he was still rich, Bankman-Fried was influential in the philosophical movement known as effective altruism, which advocates maximizing one’s positive impact on the world. So it was likely in deep mourning that he wrote, following his arrest, “I’m broke and wearing an ankle monitor and one of the most hated people in the world….There will probably never be anything I can do to make my lifetime impact net positive.”
Nonetheless, he insisted, “I did what I thought was right.”