• A movie director used Netflix funds to trade options and cryptocurrencies, The New York Times said.
  • “47 Ronin” director Carl Erik Rinsch bet on Gilead Sciences and dogecoin, and against the S&P 500.
  • He lost $6 million on options, but a winning bet on dogecoin boosted his balance to $27 million.

A Hollywood director took millions of dollars of production funding from Netflix and used it to trade stock options and cryptocurrencies, The New York Times said on Wednesday. Here’s a closer look at what he reportedly did with the money.

Netflix had already poured $44 million into Carl Erik Rinsch’s troubled sci-fi series “Conquest” when he asked for more cash in March 2020. The streaming giant wired the “47 Ronin” director’s production company another $11 million, the NYT said. The newspaper cited cast and crew members, emails, and court filings in a divorce case brought by Rinsch’s wife in its story.

Rinsch moved $10.5 million of the new funds into his personal brokerage account, and proceeded to make risky bets on stocks using options, the NYT said, citing copies of his bank and brokerage statements. He wagered that Gilead Sciences stock would soar, as the biopharmaceutical company had developed an antiviral drug for COVID-19, which was causing global disruptions at the time. However, Gilead shares only rose from the $70s to a peak of $84 in April, and didn't surpass that high until November last year.

The director, who Netflix had contracted to create a sci-fi series about artificial humans, also bet the S&P 500 would extend its COVID crash of 30%. However, the benchmark US stock index swiftly rallied from its mid-March low, and erased all of its losses within months.

The upshot was that Rinsch lost about $6 million in the space of a few weeks, the NYT said. The red ink didn't stop Rinsch from transferring over $4 million to his account on the Kraken crypto exchange and buying dogecoin, the dog-themed token created as a joke.

The high-risk purchase proved to be a winner. Dogecoin skyrocketed in value by roughly 10-fold, from $0.063 to $0.64, between early April and early May in 2021. Rinsch cashed in his dogecoin that month, boosting the balance on his account to almost $27 million, the NYT said.

"Thank you and god bless crypto," Rinsch said in an online chat with a Kraken representative.

Rinsch splashed a big chunk of the windfall on luxury clothing and furniture, a Ferrari, five Rolls-Royces, and a Vacheron Constantin watch that cost nearly $400,000. His spending totaled $8.7 million, the NYT said, citing an analysis by a forensic accountant hired by Rinsch's wife.

Netflix spent more than $55 million on "Conquest" but never received a single finished episode, the NYT said. The company is now engaged in a confidential arbitration with Rinsch, who claims the streaming platform broke its contract and owes him at least $14 million in damages. Netflix says it owes him nothing, per the NYT.

Rinsch argued in a deposition that he bought the cars and furniture as props for his show, and paid for them using Netflix's production money. But in the arbitration he said the funds were his and Netflix was in debt to him as a result, the NYT said.

Netflix and Rinsch didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from Markets Insider.