Top 10 Most Expensive Things Bought with Bitcoin
A few truths are self-evident. We want to see crypto become the payment method of choice across the world. We want it to replace those dirty fiat currencies that are rigged to serve the interests of governments, central banks and all the other arms of traditional finance. We want global currencies that disregard international borders and regulations. We want a fairer system of buying and selling.
This is starting to happen. Crypto adoption is growing by the day and the options for where and how you spend your sats are increasing all the time. Every purchase made with crypto is worth celebrating as another small step towards a better way of doing things. Yes, it’s great to hear about all those companies accepting crypto. Every new crypto project aiming at mass adoption is a step in the right direction..
But let’s be honest with ourselves here for just a moment. Amidst all the talk of buying the morning coffee with BTC or tipping our favourite content creators with BAT, don’t we all get a thrill from hearing about those more exciting crypto buys? Those times where some big-time hodler goes nuts and starts chucking bitcoins around like there’s a bear market just around the corner?
Of course we do. We love it because it gives us a glimpse of what we might be tempted to do when our nest-egg altcoin goes to the moon. Perhaps we allow ourselves a wry smile as we imagine how we’d spend it with way more style. Or perhaps we just take pleasure in someone else’s stupidity.
Here at the Coin Bureau, we’re no different. We worship at the altar of mass adoption and we preach its gospel, but we have outlandish, absurd fantasies too. It’s a popular topic of conversation amongst the team here and there are both predictable and surprising items on people’s shopping lists.
When the question ‘what would you buy if you suddenly found you had 10,000 BTC?’ pops up, a fair few opt for penthouses and Lambos, while others have more esoteric desires. A racehorse. A pub. An antique desk. 829,098,024 XRP (only kidding).
Big dreams, most of which won’t come true. But for some of those crypto investors who got in early, they did. So, here for your enjoyment is a list of the biggest crypto purchases we could find. Some you may be familiar with, others less so. We’ve also decided to rank them in crypto terms alone, rather than in current fiat prices which we all know to fluctuate pretty wildly. Whether they raise a smile or make you green with envy, just remember: you would definitely have spent it better.
1. Condo in Trump SoHo: 25,500 BTC
It’s ironic that, as someone who is 'not a fan' of bitcoin, former president Donald Trump should see his name attached to the biggest-ever confirmed crypto buy. Although he had nothing to do with the 2013 transaction, it was for a one-bedroom, 741 sq. ft. apartment in his New York City hotel. That’s what happens when you insist on putting your name above the door.
Back in 2013, the 25,500 BTC asking price saw the condo valued at around $2 million when it was sold to an anonymous buyer. The big winner of course was the seller, who apparently refused to accept any other form of payment for the property.
With BTC sitting at a shade under $49,000 at the time of writing, that makes those 25,500 bitcoins now worth $1,247,791,500 – enough to buy the entire building twice over and still have enough left over to fill the swimming pool with vintage Champagne.
The condo predictably came with luxuries like 24-hour concierge and room service, as well as access to the building’s pool and roof terrace. Not to mention some pretty spectacular views. The hotel itself was renamed as The Dominick after Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent years in office damaged his brand in the famously liberal city.
The buyer’s identity remains a mystery, but perhaps one of the New York-based Winklevoss twins snapped it up? Their $65 million pay-out from Facebook and subsequent pivot to bitcoin certainly make them possible suspects. Just don’t mention it if you’re ever down at Mar-a-Lago.
2. Two Pizzas: 10,000 BTC
Ok, so we’ve all heard this story, but it’s worth repeating here. Back on 22 May 2010, when bitcoin was less than two years old, a computer programmer by the name of Laszlo Hanyecz was feeling peckish and wanted a couple of pizzas. As one of the earliest adopters of bitcoin (he claims to have exchanged messages with Satoshi Nakamoto), Hanyecz has the honour of being the first person to conduct a commercial transaction using BTC.
Back in those heady days, one BTC would set you back the princely sum of $0.003, while the two pizzas cost $30. Funnily enough, Papa John’s weren’t accepting BTC payments back then and so Laszlo used the bitcointalk forum to find another user to help him with the process. On it he wrote:
‘I like having left over pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I'm aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don't have to order or prepare it myself…’
A British man answered the call and placed the order on Laszlo’s behalf, in return for the 10,000 BTC. The pizzas duly arrived and well, let’s hope they hit the spot.
Once again, a bit of simple maths tells us that, at today’s prices, those 10,000 BTC are collectively worth a shade under half a billion dollars – or 32,681,333 $15 dollar pizzas. No one likes pizza that much.
Happily, Laszlo himself is philosophical about the incident and reportedly has no regrets. As someone who recognised bitcoin’s potential before almost anyone else, he fully supports its wider adoption as a means of payment rather than just a store of value.
As the man at the centre of perhaps the most famous pizza order in history, he also has the satisfaction of seeing it commemorated every year on bitcoin pizza day. Who knows, perhaps in due course this day will become the crypto equivalent of 4th of July or Thanksgiving.
We’d just love to know who that British guy was and what became of that 10,000 BTC.
3. Land: 2,739 BTC
Land, so they say, is almost always a good investment and back in 2014 one unnamed Silicon Valley entrepreneur thought so too. The shadowy figure shelled out what was then the equivalent of $1.6 million for a 1.4-acre plot of land in California near Lake Tahoe. According to the Wall Street Journal, the buyer intended to build a home on the site, which is located in the midst of a luxurious 2,177-acre resort.
The buyer’s identity remained a mystery until just a few days ago, when it was revealed that Chamath Palihapitiya, boss of Social Capital was the man behind the bitcoins. Palihapitiya seems to regard the purchase as a poor investment. Bitcoin was worth slightly less than $600 when he bought the land and at today’s prices, he could buy a heck of a lot more than just 1.4 acres. His laconic assessment of the whole business on Twitter sums it up nicely. #FML indeed.
4. Toyota Prius: 1000 BTC
‘When Lambo?’ is a common crypto meme, but in terms of the most expensive car ever bought with crypto it’s actually a case of ‘when Prius?’ No, it doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? Bitcoin OGs have been spending their sats on cars for a while now and there a few notable examples further down our list. But in pure BTC terms, a humble Toyota Prius takes the top spot for the most expensive crypto car yet.
It was bought back in 2013 by investor Michael Tozoni, who parted with 1,000 BTC for the second-hand car. BTC was around $22 back then, though just a few months later it had gone past $1,000 for the first time. If this makes Tozoni look a little hasty, then it’s worth pointing out that he had moved all of his savings into BTC by this time, as he believed wholeheartedly in the currency’s potential.
Tozoni is sanguine these days about his purchase, calling it ‘a very good lesson about being careful with your investments.’ Amen.
5. Miami Mansion: 455 BTC
It says a lot about the crazy ride crypto has been on over the last few years that a swanky seven-bedroom house was bought back in 2018 for the equivalent of maybe one slice of Laszlo Hanyecz’s pizza. By this time, of course, the 2017 bull market had come and gone and BTC had seen highs undreamt of back when Laszlo placed his order.
The house itself was sold by bitcoin trader Michael Komaransky who stated in the terms of sale that he would accept $6 million dollars for the property or its equivalent in BTC. His hope was that the deal would be sealed without the use of fiat, saying at the time that bitcoin ‘is digital currency that no one controls, and it’s a very, very liberating currency. And there’s not much use to a currency if you can’t spend it somewhere.’
A like-minded individual duly took Komaransky up on the deal and the transaction was conducted solely in BTC, being paid out in a series of instalments.
Komaransky may have been inspired by a story which appeared at the height of the 2017 bull market in which a £17 million house in London’s Notting Hill was put up for sale by the property investment company which owned it. The sellers made headlines by stating they would only accept BTC for the sale.
At the time this would have worked out to around 5,050 BTC, far more than Komaransky would earn from his sale. Sadly, we were unable to find out whether the Notting Hill property had sold or not. Perhaps wannabe Notting Hill residents were waiting for the BTC price to get nearer $50,000…
These two instances, along with the sale of the condo in NYC all point to a potential long-term trend for BTC as a means of buying property. With the bitcoin network labouring under slow transaction speeds, the use of BTC for micropayments looks unlikely any time soon. However, for larger, less time-sensitive purchases, BTC looks likely to be used more and more.
If an agreement is reached between parties then BTC can be transferred in stages from seller to buyer, with all transactions immutably recorded on the network. Many, including those involved with the attempted sale of the house in Notting Hill, believe that bitcoin offers an opportunity to break away from the traditional system of buying and selling property.
With many millennials holding much of their capital in crypto, this may soon come to pass. If you’re looking to splurge some of those mad gains on bricks and mortar then check out the bitcoin real estate website to see what’s up for grabs.
6. Tickets to Space: 450 BTC
Virgin Galactic seems to have suffered setback after setback, but when it does eventually start flying there’ll be a pretty stellar (sorry) list of passengers. The likes of Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are all reputed to have paid around $250,000 for a ticket aboard Richard Branson’s spaceflight, which may or may not finally have lift off this year.
Two passengers who may feel entitled to a first-class upgrade are those ubiquitous Winklevoss twins, who reportedly paid around 450 BTC each to reserve their seats back in 2014. At the time of writing, bitcoin has just pushed past $50,000 for the first time, meaning the Winklevii’s booking is now worth $22.5 million – a mere 90x over the odds. Better make the most of that drinks trolley boys.
7. Lamborghini Gallardo: 216 BTC
Finally, someone willing to live the crypto dream and spend their gains on a ridiculously expensive supercar. This particular purchase was again made in 2013, the annus mirabilis of crypto car purchases, with the equivalent of $209,995 in BTC being spent.
The car was sold by Lamborghini Newport Beach, a California dealership that has led the way in accepting BTC as payment for their shiny, ultra-fast motors. The buyer was allegedly a 4chaan user who later bragged about the purchase on the site. Let’s hope the dealership hodled those bitcoins, as they’re now worth nearly $11 million.
8. Tesla Model S: 91.4 BTC
In the wake of the recent news that Elon Musk has invested $1.5 billion of Tesla’s holdings into bitcoin, it’s fitting to see that a Tesla Model S making the list of most expensive crypto purchases. This deal also took place back in 2013, before the bull market of 2017 supercharged the sector and once again involved the good people at Lamborghini Newport Beach.
In this instance, which took place barely a week before the Lamborghini purchase at number seven on this list, an unnamed buyer used BitPay to transfer the bitcoins to the dealership, before taking collection of the car. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the general sales manager at Lamborghini Newport Beach said,
It was a little odd… I didn’t know much about bitcoin, but I never want to turn away business or tell a customer ‘no’ until I’m sure that I can’t do what the customer is asking me for.
Just the sort of salesmanship we crypto fanatics like to see.
9. Private Charter Flight: 55 BTC
There’ll no doubt be a few crypto whales eyeing up private jets for the time when they’ve taken some profit and we’re all allowed to travel again. However, having your own plane is an eye-wateringly expensive business and won’t do much for your green credentials either. A much cheaper option (and one that avoids having to travel with the rest of us) is to charter a private jet as and when you need it.
The first-ever charter flight paid for with bitcoin was laid on by PrivateFly and carried Bitcoin Foundation member Olivier Janssens from Brussels to Nice Cote D’Azur. Janssens was effusive in his praise for the trip, saying:
The flight was the biggest bitcoin payment transaction I have made, but it was very easy and efficient, particularly as I wanted to fly at very short notice. It was the perfect way to pay. I'm working on several bitcoin business projects and very excited about its future potential.
He perhaps didn’t see that future potential as being a BTC price of $50,000. Those 55 BTC are now worth $2.75 million dollars, which would buy Mr Janssens and probably most of his family tickets aboard Virgin Galactic – which should be a more exciting flight than the short hop across France.
10. Decentraland LAND: 1,000 ETH
It’s not just bitcoin being used to make big crypto purchases. Ether is also proving a popular medium of exchange, especially in the world of blockchain games and digital collectables. The current insane gas fees and network bloat may put the skids on this for the time being, but it’s still going to take a lot to unseat Ethereum as bitcoin’s number one rival.
Decentraland is a popular blockchain-based game in which players buy up parcels of digital LAND, each represented by its own non-fungible token (NFT). To buy LAND they can use MANA, the game’s native ERC-20 token. These parcels of LAND can then be developed, customised and even monetised by those willing to expend time, energy and crypto on playing the game. As in the real world, some locations are highly sought-after, while others are available for more reasonable prices.
Back in 2018, one gamer - who probably should try and get out more – parted with 2.8 million MANA tokens to buy some premium LAND. That’s equivalent to around 1,000 ETH, or $215,000 at the time. With ETH now sitting at around $1,700, that’s around $1.7 million today. Let’s hope they haven’t got bored of the game yet.
What Next for Crypto Purchases?
It’s no coincidence that the majority of these big buys happened back before crypto took off in 2016/7. Bitcoin’s value has now climbed so high that the idea of shelling out BTC even for big-ticket purchases is not at the forefront of most hodler’s minds. There are a few too many cautionary tales like the ones above to put people off the idea of chucking BTC around with such abandon.
Then of course there are almost certainly some big transactions that have gone unreported. It may be tempting to boast of having bought a yacht or a villa with crypto, but it does make you something of a target. Crypto millionaires may be less susceptible to a $5 wrench attack than the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean they want to go around asking for trouble all the same.
Perhaps once the markets settle down and those crazy gains fall back a bit we’ll find out what the crypto elite have been splashing their sats on.
It may well be that the future of crypto payments lies more with altcoins and stablecoins than with bitcoin. We’re much more likely to hear about high-end items being bought with the likes of USDC than we are to see large chunks of BTC or ETH changing hands. In any case, what crypto needs now is people to use it on a daily basis for everyday goods and services. That is the way to mass adoption and not the uber-rich buying themselves fancy cars and trips into space.
That said, if someone wants to give me 50 BTC for my old Honda Jazz, then do get in touch.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.