As creditors in the FTX bankruptcy case look to claw back cash from the fallen crypto giant, an uncomfortable spotlight is focusing on a well-connected Hollywood insider with ties to the Clintons, the Kardashians and Elon Musk.
Michael Kives — a former Tinseltown agent who has served as an aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton, advised Warren Buffett and helped with Kendall Jenner’s 818 Spirits — runs a venture firm called K5 Global that got $300 million earlier this year from FTX’s now-defunct investment arm, Alameda Research, according to reports.
FTX’s disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fried and his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison, also Alameda’s ex-CEO, plowed billions of dollars not only into other crypto platforms but also media and entertainment outfits. Recipients included Vox — which got a grant for a reporting project — and the online news site Semafor, which has faced demands that it return cash it admitted it got from the 30-year-old Bankman-Fried in a $25 million funding round.
But it’s FTX’s massive investment in Kives’ firm that makes K5 Global a juicier target for creditors, insiders say. Chatter has likewise circulated that Kives had been promoting FTX to his high-profile circle of friends including talent agents Scooter Braun — who has managed Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato — and Guy Oseary, who has managed Madonna, U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Neither Oseary nor Braun responded to request for comment. Kives did not respond to request for comment.
“Everywhere I go I hear his name,” one well-connected tech insider said of Kives (pronounced “key-vess”).
As FTX’s new CEO John Ray III — a restructuring guru who helped sort through the Enron mess — sifts through the bankrupt company’s balance sheet, insiders say he could determine that FTX’s recent investments amount to fraudulent conveyance — the illegal transferring of assets to put them beyond the reach of creditors — and are thus subject to clawbacks.
“The new management is 100% going to go after anybody who got paid by FTX,” another insider close to the situation said. “It’s well within the statute of limitations to claw the K5 assets back.”
“They will 100% go after Kives to get the money back,” the source added.
Adding to the intrigue: Kives is a close personal friend of Musk. When the Tesla billionaire stays in Los Angeles, he often crashes at Kives’ Beverly Hills mansion, according to the New York Times.
K5 Global has been a major backer of companies founded by Musk. According to the Financial Times, at least $225 million of K5 Global’s assets are sitting in SpaceX, the Boring Co. and other Musk-led ventures.
It’s unclear whether Musk’s companies could be subject to the clawbacks, or whether any of the cash given to his companies originally came from FTX, sources said. However, when Musk was securing Twitter financing in April, Kives texted Musk, “It could be cool to do this with Sam Bankman-Fried,” according to a trove of text messages that were released during the Delaware Court of Chancery case between Musk and Twitter.
Musk has denied a Semafor report claiming that the Bankman-Fried owned $100 million in Twitter, and called out co-founder Ben Smith for failing to disclose how much Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, invested in his own company.
Kives worked as an agent at Creative Artists Agency where he represented clients including Kate Hudson, Warren Buffett, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. From there, he struck out on his own as an investor and launched K5 Global, backing Silicon Valley giants including Uber, Airbnb and Bumble, according to the company’s website.
But Kives’ ties extend beyond Hollywood. A longtime Clinton ally, Kives has helped raise tens of millions for Hilary Clinton. Kives was an interim spokesperson for President Bill Clinton after he left office in 2003; he then served alongside Huma Abedin in Senator Hillary Clinton’s DC office, according to a bio Kives posted online.
Now, Kives may soon be getting calls from another kind of fundraiser — a new FTX CEO who specializes in collections.
“The whole reason you appoint a restructuring guy is to recover money for creditors and investors,” one attorney close to the situation told The Post.