Cryptocurrency Investors Lost Over $15m In Nine Days

Sam Bankman-Fried CEO FTX

Easy come, easy go. Soon after the price of Bitcoin surged to $59,423 per coin at midnight on May 10, the value of the cryptocurrency began a dramatic decline, dropping 36% over the next nine days — and tanking the net worths of 12 crypto billionaires in the process. By Forbes’ estimates, the dozen billionaires who built their fortunes in the world of cryptocurrencies have lost $15.5 billion, as their collective net worths dropped from $62.3 billion to $46.8 billion, as of 3pm E.T. Wednesday. 

Bitcoin has been on a wild ride, with the cryptocurrency falling to as low as $30,846 around 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday before it rebounded to $38,083 at 3pm. One year ago, Bitcoin was trading at around $9,700 per coin. 

The biggest loser (in dollar terms) is Sam Bankman-Fried, the 29-year-old founder of quantitative crypto trading firm Alameda Research. A former Wall Street trader, Bankman-Fried was worth $16.7 billion at Bitcoin’s peak on May 10, but is now down to $11.5 billion as of Wednesday afternoon. One of the youngest self-made billionaires on Forbes’ billionaires list, his net worth shot up after he launched FTX, a crypto derivatives exchange, in 2019. The majority of his fortune stems from FTX’s equity and tokens; the value of FTX tokens have declined by 37% since May 10. 

The Winklevoss twins also shed some of their fortune. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the famous twin brothers who feuded with Mark Zuckerberg over the creation of Facebook, saw their net worths decline by $900 million each in the past nine days, a 24% drop to an estimated $2.9 billion each. The twins used some of their $65 million settlement from the Facebook dispute to invest in Bitcoin as early as 2012, and launched cryptocurrency exchange Gemini in 2014. The firm now processes roughly $200 million a day in trades.

The biggest percentage loser is Michael Saylor, a former dot-com billionaire who reinvented himself as a Bitcoin investor. Once a rocket scientist who went to MIT on an Air Force scholarship, Saylor disclosed in October 2020 that he had bought 17,732 bitcoins for $175 million. Throughout 2020, he also steered his business analytics software firm MicroStrategy to invest in Bitcoin; it bought 70,784 bitcoins for $1.1 billion. He was worth $3.3 billion at Bitcoin’s peak, but his net worth has declined 45% in the past nine days to $1.8 billion.  

The crypto roller coast also took away one mogul’s billionaire status just weeks after he crossed the threshold. Vitalik Buterin, the co-creator of blockchain platform Ethereum, became a billionaire on May 3 when Ether reached nearly $3,300 per coin. He was worth $1.4 billion when the value of Ether surged past $4,300 on May 12, but with the recent crash, Forbes estimates his current net worth to be around $850 million.   

However, it’s not all gloom and doom for the world’s crypto billionaires, who—despite the recent crash—are still richer than they were just a few months ago. These 12 tycoons are collectively worth an estimated $46.8 billion—up 25% from $37.3 billion on March 5, when Forbes calculated net worths for the 2021 World’s Billionaires list, as values of cryptocurrencies surged in the spring. Take Ripple’s XRP: Even after losing more than a quarter of its value on Wednesday, the price of its coins is still more than double that of early March. In addition, the much anticipated IPO of Coinbase —in mid April — boosted the fortunes of cofounders Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, despite a recent decline in share price. 

Here are the world’s crypto billionaires—and how they’ve fared over the past nine days; net worths on May 19, 2021 are as of 3pm ET. 

Sam Bankman-Fried
Main asset: FTX tokens
Net worth on 5/10: $16.7 billion
Net worth on 5/19: $11.5 billion 
Change: -31%


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