A fake courtroom sketch of an adonis-like Sam Bankman-Fried has gone viral on social media — and the actual court artist is not impressed.
The image of Mr Bankman-Fried looking like a Brad Pitt-Tom Brady hybrid first appeared on social media on Monday, as the founder of bankrupt crypto exchange FTX was being grilled in the witness box by prosecutors.
“Why does courtroom sketch SBF look like he spends his time playing quarterback & breaking hearts when he’s not stealing customer funds?” asked @NetCapGirl.
Dressed in a dark suit, with a blank stare and tousled hair, some blue tick Twitter/X influencers mused that the sketch might be linked to some cunning PR strategy.
“The courtroom sketch artist was definitely paid off by SBF,” joked @litcapital. Another christened the image “Chad Bankman-Fried.”
While a reverse image search yielded no firm results as to the image’s origin, it looks suspiciously like it may have been generated by artificial intelligence. One thing is clear, it isn’t the work of the dedicated sketch artists inside the courtroom.
Jane Rosenberg, who has been sketching SBF in court daily during his trial, told The Independent that the image had “no feature whatsoever, no hair, nothing”.
“That’s not even close to anybody who’s been in the courtroom or seen him. It doesn’t look anything like him,” said Rosenberg, who has sketched some of America’s most notorious criminals over a 40-year career.
“It’s not Bankman-Fried, it’s not his nose, it’s not his face, it’s not anything,” she said. “You know that AI doesn’t work in courtroom art.”
Ms Rosenberg said talk among the courtroom sketch artists covering the Bankman-Fried trial was that it looked like the late Friends star Matthew Perry.
“It’s so silly, this whole world of Twitter. So we’re talking about nothing.”
Ms Rosenberg, who has sketched El Chapo, Jeffrey Epstein and John Gotti, is one of a handful of artists who have provided the world with a vivid visual glimpse inside the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, where cameras and video are banned.
Ms Rosenberg has sketched all of the key players in the trial, from witnesses like Mr Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend Caroline Ellison to SBF’s parents Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried in the public gallery, and Judge Lewis Kaplan.
An early sketch of Ms Ellison, the former Alameda Research CEO who testified against SBF, drew comparisons to The Scream by Edvard Munch.
“It was very annoying,” says Ms Rosenberg. “I had 10 minutes to do that and nobody saw the last ones that I did were much better.”
Ms Rosenberg told The Independent that SBF, as Mr Bankman-Fried is known, had done no favours to sketch artists by cutting off his distinctive long hair prior to the start of the trial.
She said she saw her process as being very simple.
“I just look at him and draw what I see. I’m not analysing if he’s a tragic figure or not.”
She often only gets a few minutes to do the sketches, and has to cover multiple trials across separate courthouses in lower Manhattan.
Mr Bankman-Fried’s testimony wrapped up on Tuesday following three days in the witness box.
After closing arguments, the 12-person jury will be sent out to deliberate on whether he committed seven counts of fraud and money laundering relating to the collapse of FTX in November 2022.