FTX chasing $5M spent on ‘right-wing’ conference venue

FTX is demanding the return of $5 million that it claims was used to bankroll the purchase of a former hotel that has since hosted events for various right-wing fringe groups.

The property, formerly known as the Rose Garden Inn, is a bright pink manor that is now owned by the non-profit Lightcone Infrastructure in Berkeley, California.

The charity hosts conferences in the former inn for supporters of ‘longtermism,’ ‘rationalism,’ and ‘effective altruism,’ all popular within Silicon Valley.

However, The Guardian reports that supporters of eugenics, scientific racism, and other questionable right-wing movements have spoken at these conferences.

Picture of the Rose Garden Inn, now the Lighthaven property, taken from Tripadvisor.

Last weekend, the venue hosted $499-a-ticket prediction market-focused conference, Manifest 2024. Guests at the event included Jonathan Anomaly, the author of a paper defending eugenics, and Stephen Hsu, a former Michigan State University professor accused of promoting scientific racism.

Other guests included Brian Chau, an executive director of an effective accelerationist non-profit who reportedly has a long history of racist and sexist online commentary, and Malcolm and Simone Collins, a pair of pronatalists who agree with Elon Musk that people should have as many babies as possible to save humanity.

Lightcone ignored attempts from FTX to recover funds

The Guardian reports that FTX is attempting to recover $4.9 million of fraudulent transfers from Alameda sent in 2022. Court filings show FTX sent CFAR, the owners of Lightcone Rose Garden — the specific LLC that owns the property — a $2 million grant in March. Then, up until October, FTX sent another 14 wire transfers totaling $2.9 million to CFAR

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An additional $1 million was also sent as a deposit for the Rose Garden Inn, which filings say was a loan that was not repaid. FTX also approved a $1.5 million grant to Lightcone Infrastructure in October.

A court filing on May 17 summoned CFAR and Lightcone to appear in court to answer the FTX complaint. The filings also say CFAR repeatedly ignored FTX trustees for months in 2023, and that CFAR only responded after a discovery motion was filed in October.

Read more: FTX-funded charity Effective Ventures agrees to return donations

Lightcone’s director, Oliver Habryka didn’t reply to The Guardian until after the article’s publication, saying, “No FTX funds were used in the purchase of Lighthaven.” Habryka told SFGate that the escrow company used to buy the property, “has been trying to get in contact with FTX and return the $1 million funds. My guess is the funds are still with the Escrow company, but I don’t know, we never had any of it.”

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