A number of Hollywood and sports celebrities, including Larry David, David Ortiz and Tom Brady, have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange FTX, arguing that their celebrity status made them guilty of promoting the failed model of firm business.
FTX has been in the public eye for more than a week, after the third largest cryptocurrency exchange ended billions of dollars in losses and had to file for bankruptcy protection on Friday.
The Bahamas-based company and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, are under investigation by state and federal authorities for allegedly investing depositors’ funds in companies without their approval.
Lawmakers also announced plans to investigate FTX’s bankruptcy, and the House Financial Services Committee said it plans to hold a hearing on FTX in December.
Before its bankruptcy, FTX was known for using Hollywood and sports celebrities to promote its products. He had the naming rights to a Formula 1 team and a sports stadium in Miami.
Their ads featured “Seinfeld” creator David, as well as Brady, star quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, basketball players Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry, and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
The lawsuit filed late Tuesday alleges these sports and television celebrities brought instant credibility to FTX, and should be held just as guilty as Bankman-Fried.
“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX entities was to use some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, like these defendants, to raise funds and get American consumers to invest…by pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the entire plan afloat,” the lawsuit says.
Attorney for the lawsuit, Adam Moskowitz, pointed to previous cases in which the US government fined celebrities Kim Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather for promoting crypto.
“The cryptocurrency industry needed celebrity endorsements to have any credibility,” Moskowitz said.
The plaintiff in the case is Pierce Robertson, who is also involved in a case involving Voyager Digital, another failed cryptocurrency company backed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Voyager Digital filed for bankruptcy this summer, but FTX had agreed to buy Voyager’s assets for $1.4 billion, which would have provided financial relief for Voyager depositors. FTX’s bankruptcy now calls into question its aid to Voyager.
The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Florida. Moskowitz is the attorney representing the victims of a residential tower collapse in Surfside, Florida.
Well-known lawyer David Boies, who represented the US government against Microsoft in the 1990s and Al Gore in the 2000 elections, is also listed as counsel in the case.
The Miami Heat began a four-game road trip in Toronto on Wednesday. Forward Udonis Haslem, also named in the lawsuit, is away from the team for personal reasons