Seth Green has an NFT problem. Well, technically, anyone who collects NFTs is going to have an NFT problem, eventually, since financial experts expect the bottom to drop on cryptocurrency any day now.
But Green’s problem, specifically, is that he adapted an entire animated series around one of his collectibles, Bored Ape Yacht Club #8398, which has been kidnapped (ape-napped?) in a phishing scam, and the 48-year-old no longer holds the rights to it. Without the commercial rights, the future of his series, White Horse Tavern, which stars a scruffy Bored Ape named Fred Simian as a “friendly neighborhood bartender,” is now in jeopardy.
“I bought that ape in July 2021 and have spent the last several months developing and exploiting the IP to make it into the star of this show,” Green said in an interview at the NFT conference VeeCon over the weekend. “Then days before — his name is Fred, by the way — days before he’s set to make his world debut, he’s literally kidnapped.”
Green’s leading ape was one of four NFTs stolen from him in the scam, in addition to two Mutant Apes and a Doodle. An anonymous collector going by the pseudonym “DarkWing84” ended up purchasing Green’s ape from the scammer for over $200,000 and then quickly transferred it to a collection called “GBE_Vault,” where it currently sits out of his grasp.
With little other recourse, Green has been pleading with DarkWing84 on Twitter to work out a deal to get his ape back.
If the collector decides against cooperating, Green’s nightmare may just be beginning.
According to Buzzfeed News, which was the first to report on the story, copyright law as it applies to NFTs can lead to extremely murky territory. And what’s more, there’s precious little legal recourse for those who have had their crypto property stolen or for those who may have unknowingly purchased stolen NFTs.
“Ordinarily, bona fide purchasers are legally protected if they buy an item not knowing that it’s a hot item,” Eric Goldman, an intellectual property and technology law professor at the University of Santa Clara, told BuzzFeed News. But for buyers of stolen NFTs, the blockchain — which records a chain of ownership — could make it tricky for them to plead ignorance. Goldman theorized “there will be a lot of questions about whether they’re buying a stolen NFT and not doing their homework.”
A fool and his money, something something. We’re guessing this unfortunate incident should send a clear signal to anyone else attempting to develop content around NFTs — click on the wrong website link and your star could vanish right under your nose.