Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone and her boyfriend, Isle of Man businessman Doug Barrowman, are marketing a £250m development underway in Dubai with luxury apartments available for purchase using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
The development is being carried out by Aston Property Ventures, a Dubai-registered company owned by Mone and Barrowman, and said that the project will cover 2.4m sq ft, including two 40-storey towers and retail outlets, due for completion in 2020.
The first 150 apartments went on sale today, with a studio apartment priced at around 28 bitcoins at today’s rate (around US$130,000), rising to around 80 bitcoins for a two-bed apartment.
Luxury lifestyle choice for residents
The development is being marketed as a luxury lifestyle choice, with residents’ lounge, swimming pool and gym on-site and boasting of great views over “the Dubai Hills” and the city skyline.
Communal areas are being designed by her company Michelle Mone Interiors, who will fit out apartments for a fee, and the architects are Dubia-based John R Harris and Partners.
The mall is to be called the Plaza, and will offer three floors of cafes, restaurants and a supermarket.
It is being marketed to investors who made substantial sums through investing in bitcoin and now wish to convert their gains into real assets.
Mone (pictured left) said that the target purchaser, as well as having made serious gains through investing in bitcoin, was likely to be international, and looking to invest in buy-to-let property that offers a reasonable yield of, she claimed, around 9%.
The price is pegged to the US dollar, though, and only converted into bitcoin at point of sale, meaning that the couple will not be affected by the cryptocurrency’s notorious volatility, and that the buyer will assume the risk of currency conversion, rather than the vendor.
“Traders have made a lot of money out of crypto over the last few years, whether in Bitcoin or Ethereum or other digital currencies,” Barrowman told Business Insider.
“We see the buyers of these apartments being people that want to re-deploy funds from the crypto-world into conventional world and there’s nowhere safer than bricks and mortar to do that.”
Convertible assets for bitcoin investors
One bitcoin purchased on January 1 2013 would have cost US$20, whereas today it would be worth US$4,611, meaning that someone who had invested US$560 then would be able to convert their gains into the realisable asset of a studio apartment at today’s exchange rate.
Launching the project yesterday in Dubai, Mone, the founder of the Ultimo lingerie chain in the UK and who was created a Tory peer by former prime minister David Cameron, now known as Baroness Mone of Mayfair, denied that the move was a publicity stunt, telling express.co.uk that bitcoin “definitely not a bubble, it’s real.”
She added, “It’s easy for people to trade between one another, it’s fast. It is secure.”
Picture copyright: Dan Kennedy