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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Sarah Shaffi

FTX crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried subject of new book by Michael Lewis

Author Michael Lewis, whose most famous book, The Big Short, was made into a 2015 film starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.
Author Michael Lewis, whose most famous book, The Big Short, was made into a 2015 film starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Bestselling author Michael Lewis, whose books include The Big Short and Flash Boys, is writing about the former boss of the failed cryptocurrency exchange for his next book.

FTX, which was the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange, filed for bankruptcy in the US last week. Its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, also resigned as chief executive.

A leaked email from CAA agent Matthew Snyder, seen by The Ankler, revealed that Lewis has been embedded with Bankman-Fried for the last six months.

Sam Bankman-Fried.
Sam Bankman-Fried. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The email says that Bankman-Fried’s “childhood, early success on Wall Street, embrace of effective altruism and the creation of a crypto empire that catapulted him in record time into the ranks of the richest people in the world seemed more than sufficient for a signature Michael Lewis book”.

Although Lewis “hasn’t written anything yet”, said the email from Snyder, “the story has become too big for us to wait”.

Bankman-Fried, 30, has been replaced as chief executive by John J Ray III, an American lawyer who oversaw the liquidation of Enron, the Texas energy company that collapsed in 2001 after massive financial fraud was exposed.

Bankman-Fried held billions of dollars worth of FTX’s own cryptocurrency, FTT, and had been using it as collateral in further loans.

On Twitter, he said: “I’m really sorry, again, that we ended up here. Hopefully things can find a way to recover.

“I was shocked to see things unravel the way they did.”

His rival Changpeng Zhao, the chief executive of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, had previously tweeted that his company was selling its FTT holdings, worth about $500m, because of “recent revelations that have come to light”.

Snyder’s email said “the events of the past week have provided a dramatic surprise ending” to Bankman-Fried’s story, and “also highlighted the rivalry” between Bankman-Fried and Zhao.

“Michael likens them to the Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader of cypto,” said Snyder.

Among Lewis’ most famous books is The Big Short, which was adapted into a 2015 film starring Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. The book tells the story of a group of people who saw the 2008 housing crash coming and bet against the banking system, becoming rich in the process.

Lewis is also the author of Flash Boys, which is about a small group of people working on Wall Street who set out to reform the financial markets.

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