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An L.A. Real Estate First: Houses Accept Buyers’ Bitcoin and Display NFT Art

This post was originally published on The Hollywood Reporter

In high-end contemporary listings, developers and brokers are experimenting with accepting cryptocurrency as payment and showcasing blockchain-authenticated digital art.

The soaring contemporary architecture and breathtaking views of the Palazzo di Vista in Bel Air may seem well worth the $87.77 million it’s listed for. But the lucky buyer will also acquire a $7 million art collection, including an NFT (non-fungible token) art gallery, curated by MDP Art Curators, with works by Ghost Girl and BigHead Music Producer.

“The art world is changing so fast in this digital world, so we thought, ‘Why not incorporate it into the house world?’ ” says Compass’ Aaron Kirman. He holds the listing with The Agency’s Mauricio Umansky, who says, “It adds another level of fun where you just might attract the right buyer. And it’s a great marketing campaign.

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Living space inside the house at 1250 Hilldale, built by Colossal Properties and designed by architect Hagy Belzberg CHRIS NOLASCO

One early booster of NFTs has been developer Phillip Braunstein, president of Colossal Properties, and it’s already changed the way he views his homes. “Where I would maybe in the past have looked for a really nice wall to put a piece of art, now I’m going to be focusing on how to integrate the digital art experience,” he says. As a collector of NFT art, Braunstein sees enormous benefits in integrating NFTs into real estate portfolios. Not only is their provenance authenticated on blockchain, they also cut out some of the hassle of maintaining traditional artworks.

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Four pieces out of a set of seven NFT “Vandal Gummy” works by WhIsBe at 1250 Hilldale, said to be valued at $1 million; the pieces are displayed inside Meural Canvas II screens by Netgear. CHRIS NOLASCO

“NFT art is interesting, because in a sense it’s more durable. You can’t really have any soilage or damage from sunlight. And it’s easy to take down and remove,” he says. “I know some friends where the majority of their [art] collection is in storage because they simply don’t have wall space, but with the NFT art, you could have thousands of art pieces that you could rotate in and out using your phone.” Colossal Properties’ 1250 Hilldale residence in the Hollywood Hills, listed for $18 million, displays Braunstein’s set of four Gummy Bear NFT works by the artist WhIsBe.

In another sign of changing times, both Palazzo di Vista and 1108 Wallace Ridge (listed at $65 million by Kirman and Michael Chen of the design-development firm Luxford Group) are accepting Bitcoin cryptocurrency at the rate equivalent to the asking price. “It’s just an additional way of us trying to make it easy on potential buyers, because there are so many multimillionaires and billionaires invested in using crypto,” Umansky says.

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Interior courtyard with an olive tree at 1108 Wallace Ridge in Beverly Hills. DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN

As new practices become more commonplace and accessible, the digitization of real estate transactions could transform the industry. “Imagine if I could show you I own my house by just a QR code on my smartphone,” Braunstein says.

But many questions remain — as Umansky notes, there has yet to be a major L.A. real estate transaction through Bitcoin. “It’s something new,” he says. “It’s exciting — but I think there is still a lot to learn.”

This story first appeared in the July 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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