Ken Griffin wins $8 million Bezos spaceflight auction, donating seats

Ken Griffin, Founder and CEO, Citadel (L) and Blue Origin New Shepard rocket lifts off (R)

Reuters

Ken Griffin, billionaire founder and CEO of Citadel hedge fund, placed the winning $8 million bid in an auction Monday for a seat on a spaceflight with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Bezos’ company donated two seats on its New Shepard rocket for a “buy one give one” auction at the non-profit Robin Hood’s annual benefit for New York City, with the second seat going to a NYC teacher.

But Griffin will not launch to space himself, instead giving back his seat so that two educators can fly.

A Robin Hood spokesperson told CNBC that the organization will partner with Griffin, Blue Origin and New York City’s Department of Education to select the two teachers for the spaceflight, saying an announcement about the “process and timeline” is coming soon.

A Blue Origin spokesperson added that the timing for the New Shepard launch is not set yet and that the company is not planning to auction off the flight’s remaining four seats.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches from the company’s private facility in West Texas and flies beyond 100 kilometers altitude, or about 340,000 feet, where the crew experiences about two minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.

Notably, Griffin’s bid is $20 million less than the winning bid of an auction that Blue Origin held for a seat on its inaugural New Shepard flight last year — although that ticket came with a ride along with Bezos himself.

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