As FTX implodes, leaving investors searching for ways to recover their losses, star promoters like Larry David and Tom Brady are being dragged into litigation over their role in endorsing the crypto exchanges.
To the uninitiated, the world of cryptocurrency exists on the outskirts of traditional finance. But every once in a while, more people catch a glimpse. This year’s coveted commercial breaks during the Super Bowl fit the bill, as several now-infamous ads featured stars hawking crypto. Larry Davidappeared in a spot for FTX, as did Matt Damon and LeBron Jamesin Crypto.com clips.
By showing up in the most premium real estate in all of TV, and partnering with some of Hollywood’s most trusted brand ambassadors, the crypto firms bought themselves an air of credibility on the path toward legitimacy. Or, at least it appeared they were on their way there, until FTX — one of the world’s top digital currency-exchange platforms that also issues its own token called FTT — collapsed when customers made a run on the exchange amid a months-long crypto sell-off. On Dec. 12, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was charged and arrested for violations of securities laws, a month after he was sued in a proposed class action alongside stars who promoted the company.
FTX account holders, in addition to those who bought now-worthless crypto from other issuers that filed for bankruptcy, are likely to recoup pennies on the dollar on their investments. FTX’s new chief executive John J. Ray IIItold a House committee Dec. 13, “We’re not going to be able to recover all the losses here.” They sit in line behind a host of creditors with higher priority. Now, new scrutiny is on the A-listers to whom FTX turned to launder its reputation. While they might not have knowingly committed fraud, they could be on the hook for promoting unregistered securities. “The people who have the most liability happen to be billionaires,” says Adam Moskowitz, who is representing FTX and Voyager customers in proposed class actions against the crypto exchange firms.