What’s a Chinese Crypto Billionaire Going to Do With an Art Vault in Singapore?
Le Freeport – a maximum-security vault for art and precious metals storage known as Singapore’s “Fort Knox” – has been reportedly acquired by Chinese crypto miner Bitdeer Technologies, which is backed by Chinese crypto pioneer Jihan Wu – for S$40 million (US$28.4 million) from Yves Bouvier, Bloomberg reported.
According to The Art Newspaper, the Singapore facility was “designed to emulate Swiss security and tax techniques to appeal to the booming Chinese market of new collectors eager to avoid government involvement in their finances.”
In addition to mining, Bitdeer provides tech and mining services for bitcoin miners, including miner procurement, transport logistics, mining datacenter design and construction, mining machine management and daily operations. The company previously said it was looking to go public through a deal with a special-purpose acquisition company at an implied enterprise value of approximately US$4 billion.
It is not known why Bitdeer made this acquisition, but Asia’s crypto millionaires have shown an interest in art and the metaverse.
Artnet previously reported that 32-year-old Chinese crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun, who founded blockchain DAO ecosystem Tron, spent US$100 million at auction in 2021 alone, including purchases of works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti, noting that Sun intends to upload some works to the metaverse and “hopes to help bridge the divide between the metaverse and the art-world universe by loaning some of the physical works to institutions.”
The sale of Le Freeport marks a steep loss for the Swiss art dealer, who paid $70 million for its construction in 2010. In 2014, he became embroiled in a years-long court feud with Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch and collector who accused Bouvier of cheating him of nearly $1 billion by inflating the prices of 38 art transactions, including Rybolovlev’s $128 million acquisition in 2013 of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. While the case was dismissed in 2019, it was reopened this July the courts in Geneva.
Jihan Wu, 36, is one of the crypto industry’s youngest billionaires. He established Matrixport in 2019, his second adventure, having earlier co-founded mining chip giant Bitmain Technologies and leaving the company in 2021. Matrixport has been valued by Forbes at US$1 billion after just two years, while his personal net worth is estimated at US$2 billion.