Wiley sharp says the buyer approached him, of all places, on YouTube. “I have my own YouTube channel pertaining to my specialty area, which is catamaran sales, and I kept getting people asking me on YouTube if they could use cryptocurrency to buy a yacht,” the sales broker says. “After the third or fourth one, I decided I should learn what this is.”
By cryptocurrency, this particular buyer meant bitcoin, which Sharp’s company, Denison Yachting, has accepted since December 2014. A recent spike in bitcoin value has left a lot of early adopters flush, and this one wanted to buy a 48-foot Leopard that Denison had listed for sale.
“We told the sellers, ‘We’re going to make you an offer in bitcoin,’” Sharp says. “He’s old-school, he’s actually an ex-FBI agent, and he didn’t understand how this 35-year-old guy was spending that kind of money on a boat and paying cash. They couldn’t conceptually understand that, all from trading something that only exists in cyberspace.”
Denison, however, had been preparing to seize the opportunity, so the seller didn’t have to figure it out. The company converted the buyer’s bitcoin into the seller’s dollars and closed, in a normal amount of time, what became its second brokerage-yacht deal (both for midrange catamarans) with cryptocurrency buyers.
And right now, according to company President Bob Denison, the firm is finalizing the contract for what is believed to be the first bitcoin-funded large-yacht charter, in the Mediterranean aboard a motoryacht in the 120- to 130-foot range.
“I think you’re going to hear soon about somebody buying a big, big boat with bitcoin,” Denison says. “People who invested in bitcoin years ago have millions, in some cases tens of millions, and in two cases, hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. If they’re reading this article, I would certainly love to talk to them about some boats.”
Denison’s firm recently went beyond the currency-conversion sales model for brokerage boats and also agreed to accept bitcoin for new-yacht inventory.
“We will actually receive full payment in bitcoin,” Denison says. “We have a bitcoin wallet with zero transaction fees. If somebody wants to buy a Hatteras, a Beneteau or a Fountaine-Pajot, it would go straight from their bitcoin wallet to our bitcoin wallet. We’re ready for their transaction.”
Sharp says he hopes to be the broker who completes more and more of those bitcoin sales. Because Denison Yachting, as of press time, is one of the only — if not the only — mainstream brokerage firms to accept bitcoin, its press release about the recent sale has caught the attention of clients who are active in the cryptocurrency market, which includes bitcoin competitors such as ethereum.
“I’ve got a number of other clients,” Sharp says. “A guy that I met down in Grenada almost 10 years ago when I was running the Moorings base there, he reached out to me after seeing the press release. He said, ‘I’m really glad that you’re up on the cryptocurrency thing, because I’m ready to buy another boat back in the U.K., and in the past few years, I’ve turned $60,000 into bitcoin and ethereum.’ We’re looking at million-dollar yachts.”
As far as Sharp is concerned, every yacht broker should understand cryptocurrencies, just as they understand dollars, pounds sterling and euro.
“It’s going to be here,” Sharp says. “It’s going to stay. You might as well educate yourself on it so you can talk about it.”
Bitcoin Bubble: The Digital Scoop
Broker Wiley Sharp at Denison Yachting has several clients interested in buying yachts with cryptocurrency, so he’s educated himself about how the digital money works. For anyone who wants to understand bitcoin, he says, a good place to start is by watching YouTube videos and opening a Coinbase account, which provides a window into how the market functions.
“Would I recommend pulling out all the money from your 401(k) and putting it in cryptocurrency today? Probably not,” he says. “But if you have $500 and want to play with it to understand how it works and see the market, that’s OK. Remember the news clips from the ’90s with the newscasters laughing about the internet? That’s what this is now.”
Anyone with questions, he says, can find him on YouTube. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or LinkedIn. However buyers want to talk, he says, he’s ready to listen.