California Billionaire’s Real Estate Company Lets Renters Pay in Bitcoin
Billionaire California real estate developer Rick Caruso, whose firm owns multiple shopping malls, resorts and mixed use residential and commercial properties, announced this week that his firm, Caruso Properties, has invested approximately 1% of its portfolio in Bitcoin, the Los Angeles Times reports. Significantly, the developer said he will accept Bitcoin as rent or lease payments for both residential and retail tenants.
The L.A. Times speculates that billionaire Elon Musk could be one of Caruso’s first Bitcoin tenants, as he leases space for a Tesla showroom at Caruso Properties’ Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif. Caruso told the Times that he hadn’t spoken to the Tesla CEO about paying rent in Bitcoin yet, but Caruso said, “He may be the first.”
In February, Musk invested $1.5 billion of Tesla’s funds in Bitcoin and, in late March, he announced that customers could purchase a Tesla with Bitcoin.
However, accepting payments in the form of a currency that experts at Bloomberg predict could rise to more than seven times its current value in the next year makes financial sense. Using that same currency to make purchases, especially on something other than tangible goods, could result in a financial loss, especially if the U.S. starts to see inflation rise as many predict.
Caruso told the L.A. Times he hasn’t seen “a clamor” from tenants to pay rent in Bitcoin, and the asset may remain more desirable as an investment than a currency for the time being.
Still, as Caruso joins Musk as one of the world’s billionaires putting faith — and funds — into Bitcoin, which was trading at more than $56,000 at the end of the day on Wednesday, the crypto could be on its way to gaining even more legitimacy as a currency. In recent months, financial juggernauts such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan began exploring the possibility of recognizing Bitcoin as a legitimate asset class.
Caruso’s Bitcoin investment comes as part of a partnership with Gemini, the L.A. Times reports. The cryptocurrency exchange was founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, best known for suing Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their social network idea in college.
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