The Belfers were also invested heavily with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff.

SCIENCE & TECH: Oil tycoon Robert Belfer lost a fortune with Enron, Madoff and FTX

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A New York oil baron who lost billions in the collapse of Enron and who also invested tens of millions in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has also taken a hit in the implosion of Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to a report.

Robert Belfer, 87, whose family has made several philanthropic donations to institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as Harvard University and Yeshiva University, was listed in court documents as a shareholder of FTX, according to the Financial Times.

The documents show that Belfer Investment Partners and Lime Partners LLC, two firms linked to the family business, held shares in FTX and its US subsidiary, FTX US.

The two entities held a combined stake of $34.5 million as of early last year when they participated in an equity fundraising round, according to court documents cited by Financial Times.

The Belfers have declined to comment publicly on the matter.

The Belfers were also invested heavily with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff.
Getty Images for Lincoln Center

The Belfer family joins other wealthy celebrities such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; superstar quarterback Tom Brady; Brady’s supermodel ex-wife, Gisele Bündchen; and others.

Brady owns 1.1 million common shares of FTX, a privately held company, while Bündchen owns 686,000 shares, according to filings. It is unclear how much money they paid for their shares.

Brady, Bündchen, and other celebrity endorsers have been named in several lawsuits filed by investors who accused them of promoting a “massive Ponzi scheme.”

Robert Belfer, who has contributed to the Met Museum as well as Yeshiva University, was one of Enron's largest stakeholders when it collapsed two decades ago.
Robert Belfer, who has contributed to the Met Museum as well as Yeshiva University, was one of Enron’s largest stakeholders when it collapsed two decades ago.
Getty Images for Lincoln Center

Bankman-Fried, the former mogul whose net worth was once valued at more than $26 billion, has been indicted by the federal government on fraud and money laundering charges. He remains under house arrest after he was released on $250 million bond.

Bankman-Fried, 30, has pleaded not guilty. He denies wrongdoing.

Robert Belfer is the Polish-born son of Arthur Belfer, the multimillionaire oil executive who fled his native Poland after the invasion by Nazi Germany.

Arthur Belfer came to the United States and founded Belco Petroleum Corp., which grew into a Fortune 500 company. His son eventually rose to become president of the firm.

The Belfers reportedly owned a $34.5 million stake in FTX, the crypto exchange founded by disgraced mogul Sam Bankman-Fried.
The Belfers reportedly owned a $34.5 million stake in FTX, the crypto exchange founded by disgraced mogul Sam Bankman-Fried.
Matthew McDermott

In the mid-1980s, Belco Petroleum merged with InterNorth, Inc., the Omaha-based energy firm that eventually merged with Houston Natural Gas to become Enron.

The Belfer family became one of Enron’s largest stakeholders, owning some $2 billion worth of equity.

But in the early 2000s, Enron, which was once worth as much as $70 billion, declared bankruptcy after it was learned that company executives used illegal accounting practices to hide its massive debts from investors and creditors.

Ironically, John Ray III, an attorney who was installed by a bankruptcy court to head FTX after Bankman-Fried stepped down, was also appointed to be the man to clean up the Enron mess.

The Belfers are also reported to have withdrawn $28 million from the account they held with Bernie Madoff.
The Belfers are also reported to have withdrawn $28 million from the account they held with Bernie Madoff.
Getty Images

In November, Ray said that the FTX scandal was worse than Enron.

“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” Ray said.

The Belfers also invested millions with Madoff, the former Wall Street executive who died in prison after he was convicted of orchestrating the largest fraud in history.

The Belfer family owned a large stake in Enron.
The Belfer family owned a large stake in Enron.
Corbis via Getty Images

After the fall of Enron, the Belfer family withdrew more than $28 million from Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Irving Picard, the trustee who was in charge of liquidating Madoff’s assets and recovering victims’ funds, filed suit against the Belfers in an effort to claw back their gains, according to court documents.

It is unclear how the lawsuit was settled.



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