Count the penthouse of the former Trump hotel in Toronto as the latest status symbol for cryptocurrency millionaires.
Anthony Di Iorio, the 43-year old co-founder of digital cash Ethereum, paid nearly $28-million for the top three floors of the luxury hotel, soon to be renamed the St. Regis.
Mr. Di Iorio was looking for a big condo with a view. He looked at the penthouse in the Shangri-La and other hotels but nothing compared to the St. Regis’ nearly 17,000 square foot condo on floors 56 through 58 with a wrap-around patio on 57. The top floor features a soaring 100-foot-high ceiling, where an outdoor spire towers above the city’s skyscrapers.
“Who would not want to be up here, overlooking the city? Except for the bank towers, you can see every part of the city,” said Mr. Di Iorio. “It was pretty amazing. I saw a lot of possibility. It is about how do you blow people’s minds,” he said.
After he saw the penthouse, he said he “bought it outright.”
Mr. Di Iorio, who graduated from Ryerson University with a bachelor’s of commerce, paid $6.96-million for one unit and $17.48-million for another adjacent unit for a total of $24.4-million, according to land-registry documents.
Because he was the first purchaser of the condo, the entrepreneur had to pay the additional 13-per-cent HST, or $3.17-million, for the property. No mortgage was listed with the acquisition, according to the land-registry documents.
It is one of the most expensive residential condo purchases in Toronto with monthly condo fees hitting nearly $17,000.
Mr. Di Iorio, who grew up north of the city, co-founded his digital currency firm Ethereum in Toronto. His family is here and most of his 40 employees are in Toronto.
His current Toronto condo is 7,500 square feet including the patio. His St. Regis penthouse comes with all the hotel perks: a pool, 24-hour room service, a restaurant, valet service and cleaning if needed.
“My other place was a little too low down. I wanted more privacy,” he said.
One unit of his St. Regis penthouse is finished and the other is an empty shell. Mr. Di Iorio plans to break down one of the adjoining walls so he can roam from one end of the building to the next. He envisions a glass elevator to get between the three floors and predicts that his place could eventually have 10 bathrooms and a cigar lounge.
Mr. Di Iorio, who was briefly the TMX’s chief digital officer, now runs Decentral Inc., a blockchain company - the technology used in digital cash. Decentral’s main product is Jaxx, a browser for navigating blockchain.
He made Forbes’ first list for the “richest people in cryptocurrency,” with an estimated crypto net worth between US$750-million and US$1-billion. (That value was based on a mid-January cyptocurrency/U.S. dollar conversion.)
Mr. Di Iorio said Forbes did not include his business, which would have increased his net worth.
Some virtual currency creators have bought Lamborghinis to display their wealth. Mr. Di Iorio prefers Aston Martins – he owns four of them.
The condo had sat empty for years before Mr. Di Iorio became the owner.
When the hotel was branded as the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the developers struggled to sell the residential and hotel units. Some of the hotel investors later sued the now bankrupt developer alleging that they were misled on how much they would make.
The 58-storey hotel and condo had been beset with problems from the beginning with delayed construction, falling glass and angry investors.
The bad publicity increased when Donald Trump started campaigning for president in 2015 and culminated with anti-Trump protests outside the hotel and some Toronto visitors refusing to hold events there, such as Lionsgate during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
Last year, private equity firm JCF Capital gained control of the tower by buying the debt on the hotel as well as the Trump Organization’s management contract.
Under the deal, JCF took over 74 unsold residential condos and sold the hotel units to InnVest Hotels LP.
The hotel is now temporarily called the Adelaide hotel after the name of one of the streets that the hotel is on. More than $20-million is being spent on turning the luxury hotel into St. Regis.
One of the reasons Mr. Di Iorio said he bought the penthouse was because he saw the upwards trajectory.
“I saw an arc, kind of coming out of the ashes into something that’s going to be great,” he said. “The change from something that didn’t do very well to something that could be the leading tower, the most sought after place to live in Canada.”
The hotel-condo’s fortunes are changing. In addition to Mr. Di Iorio’s penthouse, most of the 118 residential condos now have owners. Mr. Di Iorio said some of his cryptocurrency colleagues also have condos at the St. Regis.
The St. Regis will be opening its doors just as hotel occupancy rates in downtown Toronto near 80 per cent, the highest level on record, according to STR, a data firm specializing in hotels.