Last year, Russian diamond company World of Diamonds made waves when it announced it would be offering what it hailed as the "World's Most Expensive Dinner."
With a price tag of $2 million, the dinner, to be held in Singapore, includes an 18-course meal prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, 10,000 roses, gold-plated and diamond-encrusted $17,000 chopsticks and to top it all off, a massive personal fireworks show that was to end with the presentation of a 2.08 carat blue diamond ring named after and endorsed by actress and jewelry designer Jane Seymour.
But now, a chance to snag that dinner is going for just $2, after another wealthy jeweler who purchased the experience, Ville Oehman, opted to raffle it off to the masses using cryptocurrency.
"We're excited about it," Oehman tells CNBC Make It. "It's going to be fun for the one who gets it."
There's just one change — the dinner no longer includes the blue diamond. Instead, Oehman's self-funded company, V Diamonds, split the ring from the rest of the dinner experience and is planning to use it in an initial coin offering, or ICO, which has become an increasingly common way to raise funds for cryptocurrency ventures without the same kinds of regulations that surround other fundraising methods.
Oehman plans to issue one million tokens for the ICO — each one will cost $2 and constitute a one-millionth ownership stake in the 2.08 carat blue diamond ring. Later one token will be selected at random and its owner will win the dinner and the extravagance that comes with it, including a three-night all expenses paid trip for two to Singapore, chauffeured Rolls-Royce transportation and a three-hour sunset cruise before the meal is served at 30,000 feet in a private jet.
Oehman says the idea of taking the dinner that would have been available solely to the extremely wealthy and opening it up to those that have $2 to spare is similar logic to tokenizing any asset historically reserved for the world's richest investors — as he is doing with the blue diamond.
"Basically it allows people to get access to a category of diamonds [as] an investment where they never perhaps would have [had] the ability to participate," he says.
And while tokenizing out-of-reach assets is not an entirely novel concept, Oehman's idea of introducing the chance to win a high profile dinner is, according to TokenData co-founder Ricky Tan, who has tracked more than 15,000 ICOs.
"There's an increasing amount of ICOs that are essentially asset-backed or commodity-backed, but the raffle aspect, that is definitely new," Tan tells CNBC Make It.
Take for example, Maecenas, a company looking to create "the first open blockchain platform that democratizes access to fine art." It raised over $15 million in October 2017 with its ICO, according to TokenData. Its tokens, which can be used to invest fractionally in art pieces were issued at 51 cents each and as of mid-December were trading for around 74 cents.
Oehman, who also manages a newly launched cryptocurrency investment fund, points out that the world's most expensive painting sold at auction, da Vinci's $450 million Salvator Mundi, was purchased by its owner just four years prior for $127 million, a 254 percent increase. Over the same time frame, a more attainable investment in an index fund tracking the S&P 500 would have returned just 60 percent, though the art market is volatile and largely unregulated, unlike index funds.
"Of course [expensive art] is completely out of reach for most people, but it doesn't change the fact that that market is very interesting," Oehman says, adding that the blue diamond market in particular has seen returns just as impressive as the art market in recent years.
At a Christie's auction in May, a 4 carat blue diamond ring sold for nearly $9 million, or over $2 million per carat. Extrapolating from that price point, Oehman says that would put the Jane Seymour ring he bought in October 2016 "at over $4 million." However, estimating the price at which a diamond will sell at auction depends on many factors — for example, Oehman's diamond is rated lower in clarity, indicating slightly more imperfections than the diamond auctioned at Christie's.
And then there are the general concerns that could come with any asset-backed ICO.
In theory, owning a share of an asset through a token should function much the same way owning a share of a company does. If an outside collector were to make an offer for the Jane Seymour ring above $2 million, theoretically that profit would be passed on to token holders. But as Tan points out, that in large part has yet to be proven, as has the issue of token holders voting on what could be considered a worthwhile offer.
"That's the unknown and that's also why many people are doubting the actual value of tokens as equity," Tan says.
For his part, Oehman says any offer to buy the ring after the ICO would be voted on by token holders and determined by a simple majority. The ICO is planned for 2018 on an undecided platform but "thousands" have already signed up to buy tokens for a chance to win the dinner experience, according to Oehman.
A winning token holder will be chosen in September 2018 before the dinner experience is slated to take place in Singapore come December.
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