Does anyone want to buy a yacht for $ 115 million in crypto?

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View from the deck of bold – which could be yours for enough cryptocurrency.
Photo: Kevin Dugan

Talk to the true believers in crypto and they will rave about how decentralized technology will bring freedom, financial equality, cultural and economic revolution – but if you really want it to be an event, put it on a yacht.

On Tuesday evening, the focus was on the special yacht Bold, a 280-foot boat – complete with two helipads and celebrity DJ Marshmello – that hosted a party sponsored by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, talent agency UTA, and Thoma Bravo, the technology-driven private equity firm. The occasion for the boat – which is docked in Museum Park Marina within sight of the FTX Arena, the stadium for the Miami Heat that has just been renamed a different crypto exchange and hosted an NFT event for about 3,000 people earlier in the day – is that the owners want to sell it for around 115 million dollars in cryptocurrency and organized a kind of farewell party for it. (LeBron James and Jack Ma were expected at some point, although neither man did). On land the line to board was about a hundred people. An aggressive crowd at the front was only held back by a few eager bodyguards. “I’m damn pissed,” a woman from the Coinbase contingent said to a friend around 8:45 a.m. after she and her colleagues were repeatedly told that they would have to wait to get in. “I paid $ 45,000 to be here.”

It’s Art Basel Miami – or more precisely the crypto tailgate surrounding Art Basel Miami, that has grown so big that it dwarfs the main event. At the center of all of this is the explosion of wealth surrounding NFTs, or, non-fungible tokens, digital assets that are usually bundled with images or videos that provide a way for artists to benefit from their work and collectors for quick cash. While the art fair doesn’t officially begin until Friday, Miami will be inundated with panels, parties, after-parties, dinners, and auctions dedicated to these newfangled digital assets. It’s remarkable how much both the city and the traditional art world are embracing their crypto moments, with signs of institutional approval popping up everywhere for what was largely dismissed as a fad just a few months ago. There’s a tangible optimism here in Magic City about NFTs as the future of, well, everything – art, city government, video games, tax avoidance programs. At this point, most parties seem to understand that there is potentially a lot of money to be made by entering the blockchain industrial complex. Of course, there is also a common, detached feeling that sooner or later the bubble has to burst.

This week, Miami is full of crypto optimists.
Photo: Kevin Dugan

“This week will be the biggest NFT sale in the history of the planet,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, donning a black NFT BZL t-shirt, in an afternoon speech at the FTX Arena. “We want to see how NFT technology can help us with resilience, transit and other challenges that we can overcome in the future.”

As sublime it all sounds, this year’s Art Basel the first in two years – everything revolves around the spectacle. In the arena, models walked around in light outfits made from crumpled dollar bills or disguised as futuristic superheroes. There is a lot of talk among the salt-and-pepper men on the investment side of the NFT economy about “community,” which, as far as I can tell, is another way of distinguishing NFT projects that have an actual following – more as a few people wore merch from the Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the biggest crews – from the ones that are ephemeral internet crap. “The Bored Apes did a very good job. They were very inclusive, ”said Chris Adamo, an investor at VC firm Flamingo Capital, while wearing a JPEG Morgan t-shirt. Paul Judge, a venture capital investor at Panoramic Ventures, wondered aloud, “How do you explain the benefits of being part of a community to someone? Whether that community is an alumni group or a private social club or country club, you are among like-minded people. ”But while these models of community – tightly connected but exclusive like a private club – the transformation of NFTs into a large crypto industry They have also undermined the higher, democratic ideals that have made them so compelling. Although the list of speakers for NFT BZL (as this digital offshoot of Art Basel was branded) was roughly evenly divided between women and men, the audience was predominantly white and male – which had not really escaped the people there. “We saw that only 5 percent of all NFT sales went to women artists in 2021, and that’s not because women artists aren’t pioneers and innovators in the field, but because of things like institutional and systemic sexism and racism,” said a watercolor NFT podcaster whose real name – Will Gaines – serves as the homonym for the overall ethos of the week.

As night fell, the parties began. Spreadsheets and Telegram groups have been exchanging information on every NFT business and clique that has rented a bar or restaurant, a multitude of events that choked traffic so badly that I ended up getting a Citi bike from South Beach to downtown Miami instead of waiting a projected hour in the stern of a Lyft. A party was held on the rooftop of Juvia, a trendy and very good restaurant overlooking Lincoln Road, Times Square in Miami, hosted by WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum behind this year’s meme stock break. When I stepped in, an auctioneer was selling NFTs of branded memes and diamond hands – slang for an owner who can brave the ups and downs of a volatile market – at a breakneck pace, bringing in as much as $ 2,000 apiece. Projected on the wall behind him was an animated loop of two naked women standing in a shower of blood. The party was sponsored by a cigarette company and a gallery of physical art hung on the indoor walls. “I don’t understand art very well, but we’re going to celebrate the union of the two things – people can buy the NFTs or they can buy the physical art they see here,” said Jaime Rogozinski, founder of WallStreetBets Intelligence. “But most of all, it’s just a great party to have a good time.” (When I asked Rogozinski what he thought of Ken Griffin, the CEO of the Citadel hedge fund – and a rival of the populist WallStreetBets crowd – beating up a group of like-minded crypto investors for a copy of the US Constitution, he played their “me wish he could have come to the party, “he said.” I appreciate someone like that. “

Later that night bold filled with around 200 people; it was adorned with neon lights and a huge screen that looped in a wavy collage of patterns. There was a mix of women in their twenties, younger crypto investors, and some older financial guys out there to do deals. The latter group seemed mostly skeptical about the scene, but also eager to be around while it lasted. An advisor to wealthy clients considered building a digital museum in what is known as the Metaverse (the dream of Mark Zuckerberg and crypto engineers alike to create an immersive internet), a place for NFT investors to donate their fortunes and the tax benefits that come with it to use come with me. “It’s a bubble,” said a prominent asset manager. “That has to be regulated”

The boat is due to be sold on Wednesday at a separate event run by a superyacht broker (and one of the party’s sponsors) Kitson Yachts that sells the giant boats to the super-rich. Carl Krass, a software engineer whose family owns – and built – the boat hopes to get at least the majority of the bid in crypto. “Look, we believe in it. We think it’s cool. I live in Switzerland, where so much happens, ”he said. “We’re all looking for more exposure, too.”

NFT BZL and the bigger Miami scene both seem to mark an evolution in the perception of crypto – as just another way to get a big corporate deal, be it a yacht or an expensive piece of art. Still, associations with tax evasion and drug purchases on the Silk Road remain. An investor on board pointed out the city’s history of financial gimmicks, one of the reasons it’s on a list of cities that require more scrutiny from the U.S. Treasury Department when LLCs buy real estate. “Money laundering, cocaine, crypto,” said the investor. “There’s a reason it’s all here.”


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