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Lenox, Massachusetts, is known for its picturesque New England charm. It’s a cultural hotspot, home to the Tanglewood Music Center and Norman Rockwell Museum. It’s also known for its historic homes and local restaurants. It can feel like a place out of time, but 2022 is catching up with Lenox in the demise of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, which may directly affect the town’s economic future.
According to The Berkshire Eagle, Ryan Salame, previously co-CEO at FTX subsidiary FTX Digital Markets, invested $6 million in acquiring Lenox restaurants and real estate.
FTX infamously declared bankruptcy on Nov. 11, and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was arrested last week in the Bahamas pending extradition to the U.S. Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, has been accused of redirecting FTX customers’ money to his trading company, Alameda. Bankman-Fried also allegedly used some of these funds to buy luxury real estate and make hefty political donations.
Business Insider reports that court papers note that Ryan Salame, whom Alameda loaned $55 million at one point, alerted authorities of problems at FTX days before the company filed for bankruptcy. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported that Salame was physically ill upon learning of the company’s collapse.
Speaking to the Eagle, Lenox Chamber of Commerce director Jennifer Nacht said, “I feel really badly for Ryan, and yes, I am concerned about what it means for Lenox. I know Heritage and Firefly [two eateries owned by Salame’s Lenox Eats] are continuing to operate as normal. Everything else is on hold until further notice.”
“It’s so crazy that something of this global magnitude has such a direct effect on our little town,” Nacht added.
For his part, Salame has been publicly quiet, not responding to questions about his interests in Lenox or anything else. His last tweet was posted on Nov. 6, five days before FTX collapsed. It read, “It’s so powerful learning who your friends are! Very excited to grow with them in the long term. It’s not hard to genuinely figure out who cares about customers and who doesn’t if you look past the insanity.”