The Super Connector Who Built Sam Bankman-Fried’s Celebrity World

About 10 months before he was arrested on fraud charges, the cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried posed for a photograph at the 2022 Super Bowl in Inglewood, Calif.

On one side of him were Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry, the celebrity couple. On the other was the actress Kate Hudson. Standing in the center, with his arm slung over Mr. Bankman-Fried’s shoulder, was a lesser-known figure: Michael Kives.

Mr. Kives, a Hollywood agent turned investor, played an unusual role in Mr. Bankman-Fried’s business empire: super connector. He and his business partner, Bryan Baum, helped the young founder cultivate relationships with Mr. Bloom, Ms. Perry and former President Bill Clinton, and offered introductions to a who’s who of celebrities and business leaders, from Leonardo DiCaprio to the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The relationship was mutually beneficial. Mr. Bankman-Fried invested $700 million in Mr. Kives’s venture-capital firm, court records show, an extraordinary level of support for a fund with a short track record of start-up investments. Mr. Kives, the founder and face of the firm, and Mr. Baum each received $125 million as part of the deal.

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