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From Enron to Bernie Madoff to FTX, This Oil Tycoon Lost Billions to Bad Investments and Ponzi Schemes

The Belfer family joins those who lost big in the FTX collapse, including Tom Brady and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.


Between the Enron collapse, Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme, and now the fallout of FTX, New York oil tycoon Robert Belfer has lost billions to bad investments and shifty businesses.

Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Belfer, 87, once the heir to bankrupt gas company Enron, is now amongst those who lost big after the crash of the FTX crypto exchange in November, which lost billions in customer funds and led to the arrest of founder Sam Bankman-Fried for orchestrating "one of the biggest financial frauds in American history," according to prosecutors.

According to court documents obtained by the Financial Times, two firms linked to the Belfer family held shares in FTX and FTX US and had a combined stake of $34.5 million. The Belfer family is joined by Tom Brady, Robert Kraft, Kevin O'Leary, and Gisele Bundchen who also lost millions after investing in the now-collapsed exchange.

However, this isn't the first time the Belfer family has been tied up in bad business. According to the outlet, the family invested with Bernie Madoff, but they withdrew $28 million from the fund before the Ponzi Scheme imploded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It's unclear if their withdrawal accounted for their entire investment.

But even before falling prey to Madoff, who died in prison while serving a 150-year sentence for fraud, the family business took another big hit.

The Belfer family was known for starting Belco Petroleum Corp., which later became Enron, and once generated $111 billion in revenue. That was until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2001 after it was discovered that employees used illegal practices to hide debts and lie to investors. The Belfer family was the largest Enron stakeholder with $2 billion in equity.

It's unclear how much the family is worth today.

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