Crypto Bros' Lambo Obsession Morphs Into Aspirational Parody

(Bloomberg) -- Lamborghinis are typically thought of as the flashy trophies reserved for diamond-clad rappers or secret agents in the movies (or even popes). Until now.

A newer group, Bitcoin investors, made the stereotype their own during Blockchain Week in New York. Joke or not, “Lambo” has become the ultimate status symbol of rags-to-riches crypto traders with something to prove.

The luxury cars could be heard roaring through the streets of Midtown Manhattan on Monday, making their way to the Consensus blockchain conference, where they sat parked outside the Hilton for all to ogle at. The showing made a statement: Crypto buyers are building significant wealth, just like the traditional financial institutions they set out to dismantle.

But unlike some Wall Street executives, no one at the event actually owned the Lamborghinis on display; crypto exchange BitMex had rented them out for the day, a reminder that the nascent industry is still just a blip in the overall world economy.

“I personally do believe that this is connected to the profile of the young generation that are invested in these high-risk investments,” said Automobili Lamborghini SpA Chief Executive Officer Stefano Domenicali in a May 14 CNBC interview. “I see the parallel between young people that are really willing to become very rich with a very high-risk investment with the fact that our customers are very young.”

The American trope of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps may help make sense of the crypto community’s obsession with exotic cars. Tai Lopez, a YouTuber with 1.2 million subscribers who makes how-to videos about wealth and success, explains it well:

“The real reason I keep this Lambo here is that it’s a reminder -- a reminder that dreams are still possible,” said Lopez, standing proudly in front of his black Lamborghini, in a post from 2015. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was in a little town across the country, sleeping on a couch in a mobile home with only $47 in my bank account.”

Lamborghinis weren’t the only luxury making a splash during Blockchain Week. Ethereum co-founder Anthony Di Iorio’s company Decentral threw a party Wednesday for about 1,000 people on a rented yacht. Posts on social media show party goers dancing to electronic music, watching inspirational videos about crypto on screens around the dance floor and gawking at two Aston Martins parked by the boat.

One of the cars had an Ethereum logo splashed across its door, while the other had Bitcoin Bs on the wheels. As the yacht was docking back in Manhattan around midnight, two of the attendees’ wristbands, which had been flashing blue all night, started flashing a different color from the rest, said Trevor Koverko, Polymath Inc.’s chief executive officer, who was at the party. That marked the winners of the roughly $160,000 cars.

Some digital-currency fans have even made websites that calculate how many more Bitcoins you would need to buy a Lamborghini. The phrase “When Lambo?” appears frequently in memes, tweets and Reddit posts from users wondering when their crypto holdings will propel them to lives of luxury. Investors can also buy “Lambocoins,” a parody token whose lead developer is a cat with actor Nicolas Cage’s face.

“This is why they hate us,” one Bitcoiner tweeted in response to a photo of the Lambos outside of Consensus on Monday.

Another enthusiast shot back: “‘People will think they’re crazy’ But the crazy ones change the world.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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