FTX’s insider said on Tuesday that the doomed cryptocurrency company’s headquarters in the Bahamas was a “pretty tame place,” despite rampant speculation about its executives’ sex lives and alleged substance use.
Online gossip that the group was living in a “polycule” — or network of polyamorous relationships — exploded after CoinDesk reported that the executives “are, or were, paired in romantic relationships with each other.”
Dr. George K. Lerner, a psychiatrist, reportedly served as a therapist to disgraced FTX CEO Sam-Bankman-Fried and as a counselor to many of the company’s employees. Bankman-Fried and his former lover Caroline Ellison were reportedly part of a 10-person group that ran FTX and his sister cryptocurrency trading firm Alameda Research out of a “luxury penthouse” in the Bahamas.
“It’s a pretty quiet place,” Lerner told the New York Times. “The superiors mostly played chess and board games. There was no party. They were unsexual, if anything.
Lerner told the outlet he moved to the Bahamas in June, where he served as a consultant at FTX 32 hours a week and also maintained a “small private practice.” The performance coach said FTX executives were workaholics with little social life.
“They were working too much,” he added. “It would have been healthier if they had healthier dating relationships.”
The personal habits of Bankman-Fried and other executives are under the microscope following reports that at least $1 billion in FTX client funds are still missing. FTX, Alameda Research and over 100 affiliates filed for bankruptcy last week.
Lerner also addressed the viral rumors of FTX executives’ alleged use of stimulants. Ellison, CEO of Alameda Research, admitted to “regularly using amphetamines” in an April 2021 tweet, while Bankman-Fried has openly discussed his experimentation with Adderall and other stimulants.
Amphetamine can be prescribed under the brand name Adderall as a drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Lerner told the Times that while some FTX employees may have had prescriptions for ADHD medications, the “ADHD rate at the company was in line with most tech companies.”
Lerner also acknowledged writing prescriptions to FTX employees whom he treated as patients in his private practice, though he didn’t clarify which ones he prescribed.
The Post reached out to Lerner, Bankman-Fried and FTX for further comment.
In a separate interview with Vice, Lerner said he served as a “coach” to “about 100 employees, including 20 to 40 on a semi-regular basis.”
In a tweet dated September 15, 2019, Bankman-Fried described habits for optimizing productivity in a reply to a fellow Twitter user. That user’s post has been deleted, but Bankman-Fried’s post is still online.
“Stimulants when you wake up, sleeping pills if you need them when you sleep,” Bankman-Fried tweeted. “Be careful where your headspace is. I often nap in the office so my mind doesn’t let work drift between shifts.”
Lerner’s association with Bankman-Fried first surfaced in a now-deleted profile posted last September on the Sequoia Capital website, where he was identified as the former billionaire’s therapist. The investment giant was recently forced to cut the value of its FTX investment to zero.
The psychiatrist told the New York Times that Bankman-Fried has a series of “nervous habits,” such as “quickly tapping his foot” — something apparently it is doing in an October interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Meet The Press Reports.” During the interview, Bankman-Fried stamps his foot so furiously that he appears to be shaking.
Lerner said Bankman-Fried uses a “fidget spinner” toy and also plays video games to relieve stress.
The shrink also rejected the possibility that Bankman-Fried knowingly committed any wrongdoing.
“I just can’t see him doing it, honestly,” Lerner said. “I mean, I guess maybe I should sit down with him and figure out why. But I’m having a hard time making that leap.