50 Luxury Dubai Apartments Sold in Bitcoin As Part of $327 Million Development

Founder of lingerie brand Ultimo Michelle Mone and her billionaire investor partner Doug Barrowman have announced they sold 50 out of the 1,300 flats in the $327 million property development in Dubai in bitcoin.
Sibel Nicholson

The luxury development, Aston Plaza and Residences which is located in Dubai's Science Park, is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Scottish businessman and investor Doug Barrowman's firm Aston Developments, which is registered in Dubai, is developing the £250 million, or $327 million, site. It is part of the Knox Group, which manages a portfolio worth £1.5 billion of assets that includes commercial property.

When the project was first announced, Ultimo lingerie founder Michelle Mone and her partner Barrowman initially promised to offer 150 out of the 1,300 apartments that comprise the development for bitcoin.

"We allocated 50 out of 1,300 developments. We’ve sold all out. Some bought ones and twos, and one individual bought ten."

"We allocated 50 out of 1,300 developments. We’ve sold all out. Some bought ones and twos, and one individual bought ten." Barrowman told the Business Insider.

This was supposed to be the first major development of the size offered for purchase in a digital currency. Barrowman said they still receive inquiries, which suggests more batches can be released in future.

Studio apartments are priced at around $130,000, which is at the moment worth about 15 bitcoins and two-bedroom apartments are priced at $380,000, about 45 bitcoins.

BitPay, which provides bitcoin payment services, processes the transactions.

Barrowman’s company, the Knox group, has done an agreement with BitStamp to immediately convert the bitcoin payment into dollars so there is no exposure to the cryptocurrency which has displayed significant volatility recently. 

Mone established the lingerie brand Ultimo in 1996 through her company MJM International. Mone now owns the interior design firm Michelle Mone Interiors, which is responsible for building main walkways and reception areas in the development.

Mixture of buyers

The development in the Dubai Science Park is said to include two towers, a swimming complex, an outdoor cinema and a shopping mall. In addition, buyers can also pay with bitcoin for interior design. The project spans more than 2.4 million square feet.


There is reported to be a mixture of buyers but many of them were early bitcoin devotees, young male programmers in t-shirts, said Michelle Mone. "Actually, the team got a relationship going with them as well. They would talk on the phone — they’re not just like in their hoodies in the dark in the rooms."

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"We’re still getting lots of inquiries. We’ve not released another batch. Particularly when bitcoin was riding high in the charts. I think a lot of people were cashing out over the Christmas period." Barrowman added.

Crypto space moving into the physical world

Mone and Barrowman have also been promoting their latest project, Equi, a cryptocurrency-powered investment platform.

"I like to see this crypto space being used to buy real-world assets," Barrowman said. "That’s the spirit of Equi as well. It’s transcending the crypto space into the physical and real world."

Mone’s and Barrowman’s Equi, a VC investment platform based on Ethereum, plans to carry out an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) last week. They will be selling Equi Tokens and the pair hopes to raise a total of $75 million.

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