The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has agreed to return donations totalling more than half a million dollars it received from bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange and hedge fund FTX.
The Met was gifted $550,000 by FTX's US entity West Realm Shires Services last spring, months before the crypto exchange's collapse in November 2022. The museum has agreed to return the sum in full, according to publicly available court documents, as CoinDesk first reported.
“The Met wishes to return the Donations to the FTX Debtors, and the FTX Debtors and the Met have engaged in good faith, arm’s length negotiations concerning the return,” according to the court filing. A repayment is to be made within a month of judicial approval.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art received one gift of $300,000 in March 2022, followed by another $250,000 in May 2022. According to the court document, after receipt of the returns, the parties will “exchange unconditional, irrevocable and mutual releases from any and all claims, counterclaims, demands, liabilities, suits, debts, costs, expenses, and causes of action”.
FTX owes around $8bn to more than one million former customers. The company's founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was arrested in December 2022 on charges of fraud, illegal campaign contributions, foreign bribery and conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His trial is scheduled for October.
Bankman-Fried was a proponent of a philanthropic model called “effective altruism”, which holds that a combination of reason, data and capital accrual can best address the ills of the world, in particular the dangers artificial intelligence might pose to society. While he promised to donate the majority of his fortune to worthy causes, his company is now seeking to recoup donations to repay creditors, asking politicians last February of this year to voluntarily return gifted funds under threat of bankruptcy lawsuits. As of April, FTX had managed to recoup $6.2bn in assets.