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Back in 2017, the Fyre Festival failure—run by convicted felon Billy McFarland—was such a drama that it was turned into a Netflix documentary. Now, a new company wants to put that Bahamas island back on the map with NFT-gated luxury villas.
A company called AGIA International claims it will sell “60 ultra-luxurious pavilions and villas” on the Great Exuma Island and will be “the only community strictly sold via NFTs,” according to a press release published Wednesday.
The buildings will range in size from 1,000 to 6,500 square feet, per the release. According to the project’s website, aspiring island residents will have to cough up $10,000 just to get on the “allowlist” or presale list for the project. Homes are expected to range in price from roughly $1.5 million to $5 million.
“We bought this community because we saw its future, not its past,” said AGIA International co-founder Erik Sanderson of the now-infamous area in a statement.
The press release also ties AGIA International to The Setai hotel in Miami Beach and the Amanyara hotel in Turks and Caicos. "The Setai Group led by Michael Breene, who is also a co-founder at AGIA, has been selected to construction-project manage and provide operational management at AGIA," an AGIA spokesperson told Decrypt via email.
In the release, Sanderson claimed the new development will create 150 jobs during its construction process and 125 longer-term hospitality jobs.
A quick Linkedin search for Sanderson identifies him as connected to AGIA since 2021. In addition to AGIA, Sanderson also appears to be the CEO of the Technomarine Group, a boating and marine company based out of Florida. The AGIA co-founder did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.
While it might seem like a PR stunt, this isn’t the first time someone’s used, or planned to use, an NFT as a de facto “deed” signifying ownership over physical property or real estate. Multiple real-world houses have been sold via NFTs and continue to make headlines, even during the bear market.
"By no means is this a PR stunt," the AGIA spokesperson told Decrypt, adding that careful thought was put into both the location of its "luxury crypto community" and the way in which it plans to sell each villa.
"Obviously we could have taken the site the traditional legacy real estate route. AGIA sees the future of digital currency and believes that we are building the ideal community to go fully tokenized," the spokesperson said. "We have a construction-ready site, the support of the Bahamian government, a fully entitled plan and the ability to immediately convey ocean and harbour front land to the purchasers in a crypto-friendly country with a stable democracy."
The Bahamas does indeed have a history of being crypto-friendly—FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has his crypto exchange headquartered there, and the Bahamian government is also responsible for launching one of the first blockchain-based central bank digital currencies, the sand dollar.
Regardless, it's worth noting that minting any NFT based on lofty and yet unrealized promises can be very risky. Blockchain transactions are also irreversible on blockchain networks like Ethereum, so it may be impossible for users to get refunds if AGIA's project becomes the next Fyre Festival.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include comments from an AGIA spokesperson.