CRYPTO FOR FINE ART ET LUXURY GOODS
A New York company has offered its customers a new discrete means of payment of luxury goods and fine art via bitcoin.
Elizabeth White CEO of the company has been attacked by money laundering experts saying that White’s Company’s debut as a discreet online shop could be a boon to tax cheats and criminals, but White stresses privacy and convenience.
White announced Tuesday the firm sold its first piece of fine art, a 2013 Mark Flood painting for $100,000 in bitcoin to an undisclosed Canadian buyer, making it “the first and only U.S. fine art and luxury goods dealer that accepts payment by cryptocurrency.”
White told the Washington Examiner the firm is compliant with regulations and that she pays state sales tax. She offers encrypted communications and worldwide shipping, however, and said it’s up to buyers to make sure they’re complying with applicable laws.
The White Company does not have an office, but offers on its website a Lamborghini for roughly $230,000 and artworks by contemporary artists for tens of thousands of dollars.
White, who has a background in luxury sales, said she has received deposits for “multiple” vehicles in bitcoin. A press release advises would-be customers:
“If there is anything a client wants to purchase with bitcoin, we will be able to get it for them. Just yesterday we had a client wanting a suite at the Super Bowl and we made that happen.”
Amid a cloud of potential regulatory action, White said her firm offers one of the safest ways to transfer virtual wealth into tangible goods. Online currency exchanges such as Coinbase have daily transaction caps and can identify users, she said.
“There’s so much newfound wealth and people are finding it troublesome to change it,” White told the Washington Examiner. “A lot of people want to stay private and anonymous and if that’s what they want to do, I want to assist them in transitioning their cryptocurrency into luxury goods.”
Money laundering experts say White’s anonymous sales can work because the IRS does not currently consider bitcoin “currency.”
White said it’s not her responsibility to vet clients. It’s rarely possible to know the background of buyers, making digital anonymity little different than a cash transaction for a Rolex watch, she said.
“I want to deal with honest businesspeople,” White said. “If I know they are doing criminal acts, I do not want to deal with them.”
White said her business model acknowledges risk from price fluctuations in bitcoin, and that a “proprietary algorithm” sets prices as a hedge against possible losses