Sam Bankman-Fried may face serious legal jeopardy and years in prison over the collapse of his FTX crytocurrency exchange, but for the time being, he’s enjoying some semblance of his privileged upbringing by living under house arrest in his parents’ spacious Palo Alto home.
On the leafy one-acre property, which a pricey private security firm has turned into a “heavily guarded fortress,” the onetime billionaire wunderkind has reportedly met with famed “Big Short” and “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis about the possibility of turning his life and infamous adventures in cryptocurrency into a biopic, as the New York Post reported. On the downside, the 30-year-old accused fraudster has faced death threats and has submitted to wearing an electronic ankle monitor, the Post also reported.
Bankman-Fried arrived at the home of his parents, Stanford Law professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried, on Friday. He was arrested in the Bahamas on Dec. 12 on multiple fraud and money laundering charges, but waived an extradition hearing and posted a $250 million bond so that he could be released on home confinement in Palo Alto.
Almost immediately upon his arrival, Bankman-Fried received a visit from Lewis, the Post reported. They had already been in contact, with the Berkeley financial journalist having been “embedded” with the mop-haired entrepreneur for the past six months, working on a book about the rise and fall of FTX, according to entertainment newsletter The Ankler. Lewis’ publisher also has pitched movie rights of his book about Bankman-Fried to potential buyers, The Ankler also reported. Lewis’ books, “Moneyball” and “The Big Short,” were both made into Academy Award-nominated and -winning films.
Certainly, it must be a relief for Bankman-Fried and his parents to have him home after he spent more than a week in the notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary Fox Hill Prison on the main Bahamian island of New Providence. He was flown to New York where he appeared in US District Court last week and released on a $250 million bond, an unprecedented amount for bail, as the New York Times reported.
Bankman-Fried, who in November said he was down to his last $100,000, didn’t actually have to hand over $250 million. The amount will have to be paid only if he fails to show up for his court appearances or violates the terms of his home confinement, the New York Times said. Bankman-Fried’s parents used equity in their home to help secure part of the bond, while two unnamed co-signers are on the hook for the rest.
In Palo Alto, Bankman-Friend can enjoy the use of his parents’ pool and the running of the historic, 3,000-square-foot home, which is located on a cul-de-sac in the tony Upper San Juan neighborhood in the southern part of Stanford University’s campus. The area is more akin to a country club than university housing and is home to dozens of senior Stanford faculty. Neither Bankman nor Fried will be teaching classes at Stanford Law School next quarter.
While on house arrest, their son must abide by some pretty strict restrictions. He must stay at his parents’ home and be monitored electronically. He can only leave the property for substance use treatment, exercise and mental health purposes.
Because of death threats, sudden global infamy and their cul-de-sac becoming a macabre tourist attraction, Bankman and Fried have turned their home into “a heavily guarded fortress,” the New York Post reported. The family is paying about $10,000 a week to have a private Bay Area security firm patrol their grounds around the clock. They’ve also expanded fencing on the property to limit people’s ability to see inside.
“They’re nervous,” a source told the New York Post. “There have been death threats. They’re not taking any chances.”
A Stanford spokesperson has told the media that the university’s department of public safety deployed temporary security in the neighborhood surrounding the home, and that a few roads have been closed nearby. A spokesperson for Bankman and Fried said that the professors “are grateful to be members of the Stanford community and for the services of the Stanford Department of Public Safety,” the Stanford Daily reported.
As of Tuesday, Bankman and Fried had rarely left their home, with the family relying on delivered food and groceries, the Post said. Bankman, however, sought to relieve some stress by going on some escorted jogs around the neighborhood, the Post added. In addition to welcoming Lewis into their home for a meeting with their son, the couple have also hosted several gatherings since their son’s return.
Bankman-Fried is charged with using money, illicitly taken from FTX customers, to enable trades at Alameda Research, his trading firm, and to spend lavishly on real estate in the Bahamas and to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to US politicians.
His parents are also under scrutiny for their relationship to their son’s bankrupt company. Bankman, a tax expert, actually worked for the company and provided legal and tax advice, while Fried counted her son among the donors within a political advocacy network she created.