"So when Sam was in a room with the dog, it always felt as if some accident was waiting to happen."
German to Me
A biography of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has dropped just in time for his trial to start — and it's full of bizarre and disparate tidbits that paint a complicated portrait of one of financial history's most idiosyncratic villains.
As the New York Times describes in a review of career biographer Michael Lewis' new SBF book, "Going Infinite," strange anecdotes abound in a recounting that can't decide whether the crypto scion is a hero, a heel, or something in between.
At the end of the book, for instance, the writer includes what may be an allegory for the entire debacle: an aside about Bankman-Fried's parents getting a German shepherd that's trained to kill if it hears a German-language command that they learned, but their son failed to memorize.
"So when Sam was in a room with the dog, it always felt as if some accident was waiting to happen," Lewis wrote. "It would have been very Sam Bankman-Fried to have been eaten by his own guard dog."
While the whole story sounds like a potential metaphor, the existence of the canine killer, named Sandor, was well-documented at the beginning of 2023 when the Bankman-Frieds welcomed the pup into their Palo Alto home while their son was on house arrest.
As Forbes reported at the time, Sandor was indeed trained to attack with a "secret word," and Puck revealed that SBF's parents got the dog for him as an unsolicited gift that, per his reckoning, had "just shown up" one day.
In spite of the book's purported difficulty piecing together all the disparate parts of SBF, it does seem chock-full of the kinds of stories that only a "fly on the wall," as Lewis seemingly sought to be, could glean.
While it had been reported previously that former Democratic fundraiser Bankman-Fried had donated $1 million to a political action committee associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the book revealed why he made that shocking donation: because, as the 31-year-old told the biographer, he wanted the aging Republican to "defeat the Trumpier candidates in the US Senate races."
Lewis also learned that SBF had planned to donate between "$15-$30 million" to McConnell to the same end, and as Puck reported last week, he also apparently met with the Senate majority leader.
The conservative payola in the biography didn't end there, either. SBF was apparently told, per the writer's recounting, that Donald Trump — whose own trial, coincidentally, begins this week in New York as well — wouldn't run for president again in 2024 if he was paid $5 billion. The degrees of truth in that statement are, of course, anyone's guess.
As he heads to trial, it's clear that SBF continues to resist categorization — which is, in part, why his story and downfall remain so compelling.
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