Ex-FTX head buys Titanic memorabilia for $1.5 million

Patrick Gruhn, the former head of FTX Europe, purchased a piece of Titanic memorabilia for nearly $1.5 million, marking the highest amount ever paid at auction for an item from the ill-fated ship.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the item in question is a gold pocket watch that belonged to John Jacob Astor IV, a wealthy American property magnate and the richest passenger aboard the Titanic.

Gruhn revealed that he financed the purchase using funds obtained from selling his companies and plans to display the watch in museums. He intends the watch as a gift for his wife, Maren Gruhn.

This transaction comes amidst financial controversies surrounding the former FTX executive. Back in July 2023, FTX’s bankruptcy estate was chasing down over $323.5 million from the executives running FTX Europe. They ended up striking a deal where Gruhn and his team agreed to buy back FTX’s European assets for around $33 million. Moreover, Gruhn has said he had no clue about any fraudulent activities at FTX prior to its collapse in November 2022.

Since the downfall of FTX, Gruhn has relocated to Oregon, where he is currently managing a German Catholic TV network and working on establishing a crypto derivatives exchange in Europe.

A US bankruptcy court has given FTX’s liquidators the greenlight to kickstart bids to sell four functioning subsidiaries — including its Japanese and European units. The businesses include custody platform and broker-dealer Embed, crypto derivatives exchange and clearing house LedgerX, FTX Japan and FTX Europe, which have reportedly attracted as many as 117 expressions of interest.

While the bankruptcy case could take years, a committee representing FTX’s creditors has prioritized the sale of certain entities. They argued that all these businesses have solvent balance sheets, independent management and valuable franchises, but they are at “risk of losing value if not sold quickly.”

Coinbase was reportedly in the final stages of negotiations to acquire FTX Europe, primarily due to the profitability of its derivatives business and its increasing customer base.