Rick Caruso Says He’ll Accept Rent in Bitcoins

The 13-year-old digital currency gets a major endorsement from one of L.A.’s biggest landlords

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Bitcoin, the growing cryptocurrency, is making its way into the material side of real estate.

Billionaire developer Rick Caruso, owner of the perpetually mobbed The Grove in Los Angeles, said that his apartment and retail tenants can now pay their rent using the 13-year-old digital currency, the Los Angeles Times reported. His company is also expanding and developing other initiatives focused on automated capital, including one plan that would use blockchain technology to administer a reward program in which shoppers earn cryptocurrency.

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“We believe that cryptocurrency is here to stay,” Caruso said in an interview Wednesday on CNBC. “We’ve allocated a percentage of what would normally go into the capital markets into bitcoin.”

Caruso also announced that his firm invested in bitcoin in a partnership with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who are well-known for their battle with billionaire Mark Zuckerberg over the creation of Facebook. Tyler Winklevoss said cryptocurrency is going to be part of “any 21st century retail and real estate experience.”

The move marks a major endorsement by one of L.A.’s biggest heavy hitters, with Caruso’s portfolio also including The Americana at Brand, Rosewood Miramar Beach resort in Montecito, 8500 Burton, The Commons at Calabasas, and more. The exec once again made it onto this year’s Forbes list of billionaires, where his net worth clocked in at about $4.2 billion.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been gaining steam as more institutional entities, like billionaire Jack Dorsey’s Square, Goldman Sachs and Mastercard International, embrace the concept in some form. However, Caruso appears to be the first major adoption of bitcoin from the real estate sector.

Billionaire Elon Musk, a popular supporter of cryptocurrency, announced this year that Tesla will accept bitcoin to sell its electric cars and other products, and that the company purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. Tesla is also a tenant at Caruso’s The Americana at Brand center in Glendale. 

“[Musk] may be the first, as a pioneer, to pay his rent in bitcoin,” Caruso told the LAT

The value of the notably volatile bitcoin soared more than 650 percent over the past year alone. In March, one bitcoin reached over $62,000 in value. Today, it started at around $57,800.