Early Theranos investor to sell stock certificate as NFT
Marc Ostrofsky (L) and Theranos Founder and C.E.O. Elizabeth Holmes attend the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit cocktail party at The Ferry Building on October 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Michael Kovac | Getty Images
Eighteen years after he invested and lost $150,000 in Theranos, Marc Ostrofsky says he found a way to cash in. And he’s going to use embattled Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’ notoriety.
Ostrofsky will be auctioning his worthless Series A stock certificate for 500,000 shares signed by Holmes as a nonfungible token.
“I may be the only investor to make money off of Theranos when all is said and done,” Ostrofsky said.
The Houston-based tech investor said he met Holmes through his banker around the time she dropped out of Stanford in 2003. He was pitched the idea over a dinner meeting with Holmes.
“She was very smart and she knew what she was doing,” Ostrofsky said. “She was very good at pitching and had strong convictions in what she believed.”
That led to Ostrofsky investing $100,000 in 2004 and another $50,000 a few years later. For those investments he received two stock certificates in the private company. They are now worthless.
Fast forward to earlier this month at Art Basel in Miami. Ostrofsky, who’s a big art collector, said he got the idea to sell one of his stock certificates when he was talking to the exhibitors.
“I think this is exactly what an NFT should be,” Ostrofsky said. “Fun and a collectible. One of a kind.”
The NFT, which will be titled “Rise and Fall of Theranos NFT,” will launch Thursday on digital art market OpenSea.
The NFT offering comes as Holmes’ case is expected to go to the jury by Friday after closing arguments are finished. Holmes has been fighting 11 charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors allege Holmes engaged in a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud investors and patients. Holmes has pleaded not guilty.
Ostrofsky, who unlike other investors never sued Holmes or Theranos, said he hopes to recoup his investment multiple times over with the NFT offering.
In the NFT world where digital assets are going for insane prices, Ostrovsky’s optimistic projections may not be far off, according to Christine Parlour, finance professor at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business.
“Art is in the eye of the beholder,” Parlour said. “There’s a huge power in these NFTs. With Elizabeth Holmes, everyone knows the story so it’s probably very personal for a lot of people and that adds a sort of sentimental value.”
As far as Holmes and the blood-testing technology she touted as a game changer, Ostrofsky said: “I invest hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, that’s what investments are. But I certainly did not see all of this coming.”
The winning bidder will also receive a token that can be redeemed for the physical stock certificate.
Ostrofsky said unlike Holmes’ ill-fated vision to run hundreds of tests with a drop or two of blood, there’s no downside to this business venture.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Ostrofsky said. “It’s not like I’m going to lose a fortune. I’ve lost my money in Theranos, this is the opposite. This is a recoup.”