The financial world has been buzzing for the past week over the stunning downfall of FTX cofounder Sam Bankman-Fried, whose $16 billion fortune evaporated seemingly overnight. The 30-year-old’s financial ruin has been described by some as one of the most significant losses of personal wealth of our time—if not all time.
As of Friday, Bankman-Fried, who goes by SBF, had filed for bankruptcy and resigned from his role as CEO of FTX, which was the second-largest and fastest-growing crypto exchange.
In this case, it appears as though Bankman-Fried may be financially wiped out. But that’s not always the result when the world’s billionaires face rough waters. For some, a major business setback simply means their fortune has been reduced.
And individual financial disasters like SBF’s aside, the world’s billionaires saw a significant drop in their net worth this year because of the stock market’s bumpy ride. As of October, Mark Zuckerberg had lost about $90 billion and Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk also lost considerably at $58 billion apiece.
The collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s fortune
SBF’s financial collapse is particularly notable because he had been a high-profile figure and something of a media darling who established himself as a trustworthy leader in the cryptocurrency world. Indeed, he spent much time lobbying power players in Washington, D.C., for better regulation of the crypto world.
But in the end, industry insiders say, not everything was what it appeared with SBF. Despite promises to customers that their crypto investments were safe with FTX, it turns out that wasn’t the case at all. SBF, who Bloomberg reports had $26 billion at his peak, lost it all amid the collapse of the FTX exchange.
SBF’s downfall is just the most recent empire to crumble however. Here are some of the other notable individual financial collapses of modern times.
1. Masayoshi Son
- Total fortune at its peak: $78 billion
- Source of wealth: Software distribution and mobile networks
At the height of his fortune, Masayoshi Son, a Japanese businessman, was said to be worth a record $78 billion. He was a victim of the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, when he lost more than $59 billion when his SoftBank shares plummeted (which would be over $1 trillion today when taking into account inflation), according to Forbes. Some claim it was the single biggest overnight loss in net worth. Still, Son continues to be a billionaire, according to Bloomberg, with a current net worth of $13.3 billion as of Nov. 14.
2. Yasumitsu Shigeta
- Total fortune at its peak: $42 billion
- Source of wealth: Mobile phone company
Yet another power player impacted by the burst of the Japanese tech bubble, between 1999 and 2000 Shigeta was worth a staggering $42 billion, according to Forbes. However, as with Son, when the tech industry tanked, so too did a substantial portion of Shigeta’s wealth. The founder and chairman of Hikari Tsushin, who had earned the distinction of being Japan’s youngest billionaire when he was 34, lost about $40 billion in just a few months, according to Forbes.
Shigeta seems to have recovered. His current net worth is about $4.9 billion, according to Bloomberg.
3. Eike Batista
- Total fortune at its peak: $34.5 billion
- Source of wealth: Oil and gas investments
At the height of his fortune, Brazilian businessman Eike Batista was worth an estimated $34.5 billion. Once the richest man in Brazil, Batista lost that fortune over the span of just one year. His empire began collapsing in 2013 as the value of many of his oil and gas assets began diminishing, and he suddenly found himself weighed down by debts far surpassing the value of his oil business, OGX. Batista is no longer listed on the Bloomberg list of billionaires.
4. Sean Quinn
- Total fortune at its peak: $6 billion
- Source of wealth: Construction, insurance, real estate
Back in 2008, Ireland’s richest man, Sean Quinn, was reported to be worth about $6 billion. However, in just two years, Quinn lost it all amid Ireland’s real estate market crash and the Great Recession, according to the BBC. Not only did he lose everything, Quinn also suddenly found himself in debt to the tune of some $3 billion. Like Batista, he is no longer among Bloomberg’s list of the world’s billionaires.
5. Allen Stanford
- Total fortune at its peak: $2.2 billion
- Source of wealth: Real estate and insurance
One-time billionaire Allen Stanford, a Texas-born businessman known for his lavish lifestyle, lost his entire fortune amid a fraud scandal that ultimately sent him to jail. He was sentenced to 110 years in prison for a monumental Ponzi scheme totaling at least $8 billion. Stanford’s empire came crumbling down in 2009, when the SEC leveled charges of fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and more and ended his company’s operations, according to CNBC.
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