'The One' heads for February auction. But Nile Niami hatches a crypto counterplan




  • In Business
  • 2021-12-28 02:39:08Z
  • By LA Times
An aerial view of The One
An aerial view of The One  

Nile Niami needs someone to walk into the stratosphere with him.

That's the developer's latest plea in a video released Monday night as he tries to halt the looming auction of "The One," the 105,000-square-foot mega-mansion that he spent the last decade creating.

On Dec. 16, Niami's development company Crestlloyd filed an agreement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to auction off the extravagant estate to the highest bidder, with the proceeds of the sale going toward paying off $180 million in debt that Niami racked up on the property to multiple lenders over the years. The auction would run from Feb. 7 to Feb. 10.

It's the latest chapter in an increasingly dramatic feud over the largest modern home in America, which has seen Niami hatch wild schemes in an attempt to keep his lenders from selling the place to recoup their losses.

Last year, he pitched transforming the Bel-Air home into an event space with boxing matches and concerts. His latest idea is even more out-of-the-box.

Sporting a tie-dye T-shirt and sunglasses overlooking a tropical beach in the video, Niami said he wants to create a cryptocurrency called "The One Coin" that would be backed by the home. Once the tokens are created and traded, he said, it would transfer the value of the house to the coin.

"This house will be sold to the highest bidder, no doubt about that. Unless someone comes in and walks into the stratosphere with me," he said in the video.

Niami said at its core, the video and the crypto plan are a last-ditch effort to save the house that he's worked on for the last 10 years.

"This is it. After this, I'm done," said Niami in a phone interview as he rode a moped through a jungle in Thailand.

He's hoping for a savior - an Elon Musk or a crypto billionaire who likes his idea and will swoop in with enough money to pay off his debts before it heads to auction.

"No one has ever asked for help like this before. I'm the underdog. I came from nothing," he said. "I have very few haters, and the world is rooting for me."

If the plan succeeds, he and the angel investor would tokenize "The One" and sell it as a digital currency. From there, Niami would rent the mega-mansion out for weddings and events, and those holding the coin would receive a piece of the profits.

"What I'm suggesting is taking something like the Mona Lisa and giving the world the right to own it. Instead of sitting in a museum, it'll have a thousand different uses," he said.

If the plan fails and the home heads to auction, it will be sold with no reserve, according to the document filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Any buyers looking to bag the prized property will have to wire $250,000 to the escrow agent and also provide proof of funds.

The buyer will also be on the hook for a 12% fee that goes to Concierge Auctions, the company running the auction. For example, if it sells for $250 million, the buyer would owe an additional $30 million.

The house is still not finished but will be sold "as is," according to the document. The property's receiver previously had estimated it could take $10 million and as long as 12 months to repair and finish the mansion.

Crestlloyd is tapping Aaron Kirman of Compass and luxury brokerage Williams & Williams Estates Group to market the home.

An aerial view of The One in Bel-Air, Calif.
An aerial view of The One in Bel-Air, Calif.  

Once offered at $500 million, the white marble fortress dwarfs the other multimillion-dollar mansions that surround it, and includes every amenity imaginable on a larger-than-life scale.

There's a commercial-size movie theater with white leather seats. A 50-car garage with two carousels. A six-hole putting green on the roof. A golf simulator downstairs. A four-lane bowling alley. A nightclub with VIP seating. A wellness spa and beauty salon. Seven water features, including an indoor lap pool, moat with built-in lounges and second-story pool attached to the primary suite.

In October, bankruptcy papers filed by Crestlloyd valued the home at $325 million. If it sells for anything close, it would obliterate the current California price record, which was set earlier this year when billionaire Marc Andreessen paid $177 million for a seven-acre compound in Malibu.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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