Copper’s ‘ill-advised’ party with sushi platter models shows crypto fits right in on Wall Street

Copper’s ‘ill-advised’ party with sushi platter models shows crypto fits right in on Wall Street
Former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond is the chair of Copper, a London crypto custody firm that hosted a sushi party in London. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Copper said it's conducting a review after a raunchy party in London.
  • The party mimics behaviour long tolerated on Wall Street, even today.
  • “Is it absurd? Yes. Is it crypto specific? No,” said one trader turned crypto executive.

Copper, the London crypto custody firm chaired by former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, said it’s launching a review after photos from a party showed guests being served sushi off the bodies of scantily-clad models.

Such antics these days seem an anachronism from a bygone era like the ‘90s, when “The Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort shilled penny stocks in between cocaine and Quaalude binges with prostitutes.

The event at the Mandrake Hotel in London last week, first reported by The Financial Times, sent the city’s financial community into a tizzy.

Held in connection with the Digital Assets Summit hosted by crypto news firm Blockworks, the event took place in a red-lit conference room.

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Guests holding drinks plucked nigiri and maki from a man and a woman dressed in bodysuits lying prone on a conference table.

Copper told DL News today that it is launching an internal probe after the “embarrassing” incident that was “not in line with our values as a company.”

“Is it absurd? Yes. Is it crypto specific? No,” said one crypto executive, who was at the Digital Asset Summit but did not attend the party.

Indeed, the financial world is still rife with inappropriate antics.

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Just last month, Bloomberg reported that Citigroup bankers were told off for boozing at client events after complaints of rowdy behaviour.

Another article last week described a Citi trader telling a junior employee to wear shorter skirts and higher heels. Goldman Sachs last year paid more than $200 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination.

One female employee described bad behaviour at Goldman, which has denied wrongdoing, as like “white noise.”

‘Ill-advised and silly’

Copper’s party last week “wasn’t an exclusive or private event,” a Copper insider told DL News. “It was an ill-advised and silly piece of performance art thought up by a third-party event organiser, not some crypto bros getting carried away.”

Crypto bros could be forgiven for getting a little carried away. It’s a bull market.

Larry Fink’s BlackRock launched spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds only a few months ago, and the more than $12 billion in inflows into the dozen or so new Bitcoin ETFs have smashed even the highest expectations.

Bitcoin is hovering near a record, lifting most of the crypto market with it.

Copper will “review the existing process for approving events and sponsorship arrangements and the value of such events to the company going forward,” the company said.

“No one pays for that kind of nonsense out of their own pocket so the fact that the service is even offered would suggest it’s done by other markets and industries,” said the crypto executive, who has spent years on bank trading floors.

Larry Fink lends legitimacy

The crypto industry has long sought mainstream legitimacy.

Convicted fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of crypto exchange FTX, became a caricature of that desire.

Before the crash in 2022, FTX paid $55 million to Tom Brady for advertisements and spent $135 million for the naming rights to a Miami sports arena.

Fast forward only a few years, and the crypto industry now has a much better champion in Fink. The BlackRock CEO, whose funds manage some $10 trillion, goes on TV again and again touting the wonders of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

And as more interest rate cuts loom and as stock indexes across the globe reach record highs, the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” looks less like a cautionary tale and more just merely “ill-advised and silly.”

Blockworks, which co-hosted the sushi party, did not return a request for comment.