Introducing £29m Hampton Hall - the world's first metaverse mansion

Luxury UK property put on the market in both real life and in the metaverse

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A luxury mansion is up for grabs in both real life and in the metaverse, in what's thought to be a world-first.

The dual listing raises the intriguing possibility that the £29 million ($40m) Hampton Hall in the UK could have two separate legal owners.

Developer Stately Homes aims to build the 11-bedroom property on a 0.5-hectare plot in the gated Crown Estate in Surrey — although the precise location is up for negotiation.

Whoever buys the house in real life will be offered first refusal on its digital blueprint in the form of a non-fungible token. Aptly, prospective buyers can take a virtual tour before making a decision.

For those not conversant in cryptocurrencies, NFTs are unique pieces of data that provide proof of ownership on blockchain, effectively the crypto equivalent of banks.

They are yet to garner widespread use, but the deeds to a five-bedroom $653,000 house in Florida were sold via an NFT this week. A US company has been set to facilitate these digital-analogue transactions and, if successful, it is likely the service will spread globally.

The owner of the Hampton Hall NFT would be able to download the data into the metaverse, a set of immersive spaces shared by users, where they can interact, innovate and engage with other people, who are not in the same physical space, using 3D avatars.

Still a bit hazy on the metaverse? The National's Alkesh Sharma has written this excellent metaverse explainer which looks at its implications for the real world and how long it will take to enter the mainstream purview.

Whether "in the flesh" or the metaverse, the yet-to-be built Hampton Hall will come with much to recommend it. Among its welter of attractions are a private bowling alley, home cinema, gym, swimming pool and bulletproof windows — although it seems unlike the virtual proprietor would want to download the property into a digital world where the latter feature serves a purpose.

Virtual properties increasingly in demand

Hampton Hall taps into a burgeoning market, with a collection of 8,888 "meta mansions" being launched in March by virtual property company KEYS Token.

Last March, Canadian artist Krista Kim sold "Mars House" via an NFT for use in the metaverse.

Krista Kim sold the first NFT house for more than $500,000. Photo: Krista Kim

“NFTs are a real trend at the moment," Sean Barrett, managing director of Fine & Country estate agents in Richmond, told The Times.

"We recently sold a £5 million house in Surrey, a period property that had been extensively renovated and extended. The developer asked the buyer whether they’d be interested in buying an NFT of the house for 2 per cent of the purchase price of the physical asset. The developer wanted to test the waters. The buyer said yes, very quickly.”

Whether metaverse properties will ever be more than the playthings of the mega-rich remains to be seen. After losing $21.3 billion in the last three years on his big metaverse bet, Facebook-turned-Meta's Mark Zuckerberg certainly hopes so.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 2:57 PM
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