A Very Bankman-Fried Holiday


“Eat your vegetables Samuel.”

Sam Bankman-Fried looked across the table at his mother. She had that smile on her face that threatened to devolve into laughter…sparked by a joke he didn’t quite get. This was far from unusual; Barbara Fried’s countenance defaulted toward this grin for the better part of three decades.

click click, click click

Sam hadn’t touched his meal. He hadn’t even noticed the plate.

click click, click click

He was losing again. Another couple of loses and he’d find himself dropped into Bronze IV. For some reason the games seemed much easier when he was practicing his Congressional testimony a year ago. Interest rates were lower then, he thought. Maybe the Fed’s to blame here too, there seems to be some correlation between easy money and easy victo–

“Sam.”

His father was requesting his attention. And he could grant it now, seeing as his loss was sealed, another stain on his journey to a lower-tier life. Sam closed his laptop’s lid and tucked away his mouse. The world outside his screen came into focus; he could finally see his holiday dinner.

The plate was divided into thirds. On one side was a ribeye steak and a tower of popcorn shrimp. Embedded in the steak was a tiny flag on a toothpick that said “accidental surf and turf.” Another third had an uncooked cucumber. The remaining portion had two Emsam patches and a pair of pills.

The laughter that refused to hide behind his mother’s grin broke out. “Eat up!” exclaimed Barbara, chortling without humor, her eyes a sad set of anchors in the storm that embroiled her face.

Sam smiled back, threw the cucumber at the dog, and devoured the steak and most of the shrimp. He washed down his adderall with a healthy gulp of oolong tea and completely disrobed at the dinner table to apply both Emsam patches.

“I’m going out,” Sam said, itching his ankle bracelet.

“Not yet you’re not! We’ve got our non-denominational holiday exchange first,” his father Joseph reminded him.

“God this place is worse than Fox Hill.”

All three laughed then — a monotonous, terrifying warble, as if one could synthesize the sound of incinerating eight billion pilfered dollars. The laughter abruptly stopped, whereupon Sam reached into the right-hand pocket of his mesh shorts and pulled out two envelopes, labeled “Barbara” and “Joseph.”

His parents cautiously opened the envelopes, and read the same hand-written scrawl on separate 4x6 index cards: “I’m sorry this happened, and I’ll do everything in my power to make this right. Thank you for trusting me.”

They seemed pleased, then handed him an unwrapped, cardboard box. “Happy holidays Sam.” In it were two books: “Federal Income Taxation,” by Joseph Bankman, and “Facing Up to Scarcity: the Logic and Limits of Nonconsequentialist Thought,” by Barbara Fried. Thirty pages of law-firm invoices were beneath the books, with an astronomical total in bold lettering on the cover page. Still underneath that was an appraisal of their Palo Alto home, showing a surprisingly high estimate in an otherwise subdued real estate market. Attached to the appraisal was a business card of an international bounty hunter, where Sam’s father had penned a winking smiley face on the upper-right corner.

“Just what I wanted,” said Sam, and smiled humorlessly. “Off I go!” He winked, leaving his destination ambiguous. His parents sighed as he closed the door behind him.

Sam found his way to Stanford first. He walked down Palm Drive, looking at the campus with a strange combination of contempt and admiration. As he walked, he reminisced about his now-abandoned plans for the FTX Foundation to buy the naming rights to Stanford Stadium. His mind casually drifted to replaying League, his thoughts never in place for too long, his attention as chaotic as his gait. Lost as he was in memories, false memories, and a past and future out of his reach, he missed the movement of the present — and almost bowled over his drug dealer.

“Jesus Sam, watch it,” the slovenly, hoodie-wearing man said to his identically-clothed counterpart. Sam’s dealer pulled out a plastic bag overflowing with what appeared to be Emsam patches…sans labels.

“Do you accept FTT?” asked Sam with a smirk.

”…not anymore. Better keep this transaction under a grand though.” His dealer was spunky today. Sam handed him cash from a money clip labeled “not customer deposits” then immediately removed his shirt to apply another three counterfeit Emsam patches. The dealer should have been used to this unorthodox behavior by now…but it still visibly unnerved him. Sam continued on his way to downtown Palo Alto, unperturbed.

Suitably but not sufficiently buzzed, Sam continued on to his local Philz Coffee. He smiled wryly to the barista as he ordered his drink: “I’ll give you $3 for every Philtered Soul you have, right now. Then you can fuck off.”

Per their routine, the barista did not laugh, then pointed out that the lowest price for a Philtered Soul was $3.50. Sam pulled out his money clip and said “deal.”

Seated, Emsam-inated and caffeinated, Sam Bankman-Fried could finally get down to real business. He opened up his laptop, and hovered the pointer over a quick-launcher for League of Legends while sweating profusely. He stayed that way for five full minutes, before finally deciding to open his “TODO” folder instead. He took in his accumulated backlog.

TODO
|- autism_capital_tweetstorm_farewell.txt
|- barry_draft_letter_for_winklevii(favor).docx
|- chef_nomi_comeback_announcement.docx
|- ftx_solvency_spreadsheet_v5[fixed(FIXED_V2)].xlsx
|- gg_gfy_caroline_gary.txt
|- gg_gfy_cz.txt
|- How_to_Make_A_Cargo_Container_Livable.pdf
|- kyle_plus_zhu_podcast_proposal_or_threat[draft_v2].md
|- not_customer_deposits_seed_phrase.txt.age
|- outreach_to_carlos_ghosn.txt
|- response_to_gerald_cotten.txt

So much to do, so little time. Submitting himself to the strategy he has dubbed “Effective Procrastination,” Sam neglected all the difficult letters he needed to write and instead decrypted the “not_customer_deposits” file. Inside the text file was a BIP39-compatible seed phrase: one two three one two three one two three one two sad. He imported that into a few crypto wallets and found himself staring at roughly a billion dollars-worth of various coins and tokens — and unlike Alameda’s balance sheet, only a small minority of them were illiquid offline map and exchange tokens.

He spent the next hour or so splitting the funds across various mixers and bridges, then used various DeFi contracts to open a billion-dollar short position on BNB. He chuckled, changed the name of gg_gfy_cz.txt to cz_sbf_chatlog_2022.txt and attached it in an email to his lawyers, along with a reminder that (despite their repeated advice) he was never going to plead guilty.

He sipped his $3.50 coffee (a tad bit more with tax) and daydreamed about what he’d do with all the money he made off Binance’s hypothetical implosion. Visions of penthouses and mosquito nets flooded his mind, as he smiled to himself, optimistic about all the good he would do in 2023.