Richard Garriott’s ranch already features a haunted forest and a Shakespearean theater to lure potential buyers. Now the video game pioneer has added a new twist — he prefers buyers pay for his $45 million property in bitcoin. In fact, he is offering a “significant discount” for buyers who use the cryptocurrency.
Marketed as Lake Austin Ranch, Garriott’s 69-acre property went up for sale last April and is the most expensive property ever put on on Austin's multiple listing service, according to the property’s listing agent. Just west of the Pennybacker Bridge, the unique site includes 1,300 feet of waterfront with stunning views of downtown and the bright blue waters of Lake Austin.
Last fall, Garriott started talking about the possibility of selling the site in cryptocurrency with his real estate agents, Gary Dolch and Michelle Dolch of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty. The firm gained national attention last year for closing the first single-family home sale in Texas using bitcoin.
Garriott and his wife, Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, invested in bitcoin five years ago, long before its valuing started rising.
“He kind of lives in a crypto world. He develops incredible video games and creates a fantasy world. He is super creative in that regard, so it would make a lot of sense that he would love the idea of bitcoin,” Gary Dolch said.
A maverick in every sense of the word, Garriott created the widely popular Ultima video game franchise and was one of the first private astronauts to fly into space. His latest company, Portalarium Inc., is developing a game called "Shroud of the Avatar."
Cryptocurrency has 'room to grow'
Dolch updated the ranch's website a few months ago to indicate that bitcoin is the preferred method of payment. Since then, a few early bitcoin investors from California have inquired, but nothing serious has come to fruition yet, Dolch said.
Garriott is willing to accept bitcoin directly to his bitcoin wallet, referring to a software program that acts as a digital storage unit for cryptocurrency. He also will accept other forms of cryptocurrency too, Dolch said.
“We are very bullish on new technologies for blockchain-based distributed ledgers, and we think it’s important to support their positive uses in the real world,” Garriott said in a statement to Austin Business Journal.
He acknowledged that there is “room to grow” when it comes to making cryptocurrency more user-friendly and standardized.
“But we have been holding crypto currencies for years now and are very comfortable with completing a major transaction in cryptocurrencies,” he said. He added that he would likely hold the majority of the funds in cryptocurrencies rather than transferring the money to U.S. dollars.
Located at 7400 Coldwater Canyon Drive, Lake Austin Ranch includes a small guesthouse, a larger carriage house, covered parking, eight covered boat slips — plus a haunted forest and 300-seat outdoor theater modeled after Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
Though the property cannot be subdivided and is encumbered by a conservation easement, which the Garriotts granted to the Texas Land Conservancy in 2011, the site supports an additional 25,000-square-foot house and 40 total boat slips.
After owning the property for 20 years, the Garriotts want to sell it because they’re spending more time in New York, Dolch said.
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