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Collapsed crypto exchange FTX was flush with celebrity allies, including athlete ambassadors like Tom Brady and Shaquille O’Neal, but the now-bankrupt startup reportedly was on the verge of nabbing another superstar—musician Taylor Swift. And a new report suggests that it was actually FTX that pulled out of a planned sponsorship deal.
The New York Times reports today that Taylor Swift signed a proposed tour sponsorship deal with FTX in spring 2022 following six months of negotiations. The value of the deal was reportedly as high as $100 million, according to Times sources, and the proposed agreement to sponsor a tour had come after discussions of other partnership approaches.
However, according to the Times, it was former FTX CEO and co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried who walked away from the deal after Swift signed. The late change in plans reportedly had Swift’s side left “frustrated and disappointed,” per the report. A source further tells CNBC that Bankman-Fried waited weeks to respond to the signed agreement.
Decrypt reached out to Swift’s representatives for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Word of Swift’s negotiations with FTX first surfaced last December amid a river of bad news and revelations around the exchange, which shut down last November after facing a liquidity crisis and being unable to fulfill customer deposits.
Bankman-Fried and associates have since been accused of using customer funds to prop up his Alameda Research trading firm, as well as for investments. He exited the firm in November and has since been charged by various agencies for his alleged actions, and FTX is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings as it attempts to repay customers and creditors.
The Financial Times reported in December that Swift had been in the late stages of negotiating a tour sponsorship deal with FTX, and that Bankman-Fried’s fellow executives pushed back on the proposed agreement as being “too expensive.”
In April, however, The Block reported that it was actually Swift who pulled out of the deal, citing comments from Adam Moskowitz, an attorney currently leading a class action suit against celebrities that backed FTX. He told the publication that Swift had done her “due diligence” in asking whether crypto tokens were actually unregistered securities.
However, The New York Times reports that Moskowitz has since walked back his claims, telling the publication that he didn’t have any inside details on Swift’s actions or negotiations.
The Swift anecdote is a small part in the broader Times story focused on Brady, the retired NFL star, and his various crypto dealings. Autograph, the NFT startup that he co-founded, has also faced recent layoffs amid its pivot to more of an NFT-driven fan club approach, rather than selling digital collectibles directly to fans.
Another recent report from the publication noted that musician Katy Perry also discussed a potential sponsorship deal with FTX, and met with Bankman-Fried on multiple occasions, but no alliance was ultimately forged.