Return to Crypto Isle: SBF’s $30 Million Bahamas Penthouse to Hit the Market - BNN Bloomberg (2024)

(Bloomberg) -- Beyond the palm-fringed dunes and infinity pools, the super yachts, the stables, and the sprawling villas, looms an imposing monument to the Age of Sam Bankman-Fried.

It’s the $30 million penthouse atop the Orchid building where Bankman-Fried lorded over the rise and fall of his $32 billion crypto exchange, FTX. And soon, it could be yours.

On Nassau’s New Providence Island, the sun-kissed capital of the Bahamas, FTX liquidators are close to putting the opulent remnants of the giddy days of crypto’s fallen Boy Wonder up for sale, one by one.

Topping the list is the penthouse where Bankman-Fried lived and worked with his subordinates until FTX collapsed in scandal in late 2022. It’s where SBF, as he liked to be called, would nap on a beanbag chair, near the pool that snakes across the wraparound balcony, until police took him away in handcuffs.

But unlike FTX’s massive crypto bet, which has roared back due to a huge stroke of market luck, Bankman-Fried’s Bahamas real estate play may struggle to break even for a simple reason: FTX overpaid, say real estate brokers and developers.

“They kind of created their own bubble market,” said Robin Brownrigg, a property appraiser in Nassau, in what might easily pass for a comment on cryptocurrencies as well.

To the surprise of those who feared they had lost everything, FTX now says some 2 million customers and creditors are expected to recover the $11 billion that vanished when the cryptocurrency exchange imploded – plus interest.

FTX’s real estate bet in the Bahamas is more nuanced.

In the run-up to the collapse, former FTX CEO Ryan Salame and other lieutenants spent $255 million on 52 condos, offices and plots of land scattered across New Providence Island, documents from the liquidation show. Most are clustered around luxury developments like the Albany, a 600-acre planned citadel for the rich on the western tip of the island. (Golfer Tiger Woods and singer Justin Timberlake are among Albany’s investors.)

Everyone at FTX seemed to want a piece of this veritable gated town for the super rich with residents-only pools, racquetball courts and private restaurants. A rare casting of Charging Bull, the 3.5-ton bronze statue that’s been a fixture in the New York Financial District since the late 1980s, greets residents headed past the superyachts lined up at the marina.

Over the course of almost a year, Bankman-Fried’s people spent $140 million on 15 condos and a villa there, in buildings called Cube, Gemini, Tetris, and, of course, Orchid. Bankman-Fried bought the 11,500 square-foot Orchid penthouse, the crown jewel of Albany, for $30 million, according to purchase records filed in court.

Nassau lawyer Brian Simms, the court-appointed FTX liquidator in the Bahamas, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Bankman-Fried communally lived and worked with his top executives, like his Alameda Research hedge fund’s now-ex CEO and sometime girlfriend Caroline Ellison. He famously held court there in cargo shorts, a T-shirt and white crew socks and sneakers, giving media interviews while playing one of his favorite games, FTX’s now-defunct Storybook Brawl.

Brokers doubt the place will fetch that much. A similar full-floor condo two levels below — designed to resemble the interior of a yacht — just hit the market for $29 million. Even if the penthouse fetches $30 million, taxes and fees will eat up about 20% of that.

“They will do their best to get fair market value,” Nassau developer Jason Kinsale said of the liquidators.

It’s hard to fathom how the penthouse could turn out to be a potential loser for FTX. Overall, prices of luxury real estate in the Bahamas rose 15% last year alone, more than in any other popular destination for the rich in the Americas, according to Knight Frank’s 2024 Wealth Report.

In Albany, prices have surged that much and more. The market is tight: Only two dozen or so properties are listed for sale on the resort’s website. One of them, an 11,625-square-foot beachfront mansion called Illawarra House, is on the market for $65 million. A condo with marina views from the infinity plunge pool on the balcony in the Honeycomb, a few doors down from the Orchid, is priced at $8 million.

Read More: Bankman-Fried’s Island Haven Draws Scrutiny After FTX Demise

For an idea of how much the Bankman-Fried’s crew may have overpaid, consider Salame’s digs inside the Honeycomb. Salame had Alameda wire his lawyer $8.8 million of Alameda’s cash, and he bought the place, court filings show.

A federal court in New York asked Brownrigg for a current appraisal. His estimate: $5.9 million, roughly $3 million less than Salame paid, a restitution agreement filed in court shows.

Earlier this year, consulting firm PwC, the liquidator of FTX’s assets in the Bahamas, asked for proposals from real estate brokers to sell 34 of the properties that Bankman-Fried’s crew bought across New Providence Island, mostly condos towering over the powdery white beaches inside Albany. Brokers expect the sales to begin later this summer.

Brownrigg declined to discuss the appraised value of any FTX properties.

This much is sure: A lot of Bahamians are eager to see the FTX properties sold – and push past the whole Bankman-Fried saga.

“The country is moving forward,” Kinsale said.

--With assistance from Dave Merrill, Steven Church and Ava Benny-Morrison.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

Return to Crypto Isle: SBF’s $30 Million Bahamas Penthouse to Hit the Market -  BNN Bloomberg (2024)
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