Moonbirds CC0, Tornados, and other unnatural disasters (Issue #34)
It's all about managing expectations.
If you love something, set it free. Unless 6,600 other people also love it, some of them spent $90,000 getting in on it, and some expected to turn their slice of it into the next Mickey Mouse (but, you know, with wings). Then setting it free will likely make them hate you and curse your name for eternity. The world is not a rational place, and neither are owl lovers… or ornithologists generally, in our experience. Nope, we don’t know what’s with that either.
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Right, let’s get straight into it!
The U.S. Treasury announced on Monday it was blacklisting Tornado Cash, and its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) — which polices sanctions violations — was adding it to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Tornado Cash is a crypto-mixing service designed to make cryptocurrency transfers more difficult to trace. And now, using it, or having any connection to it, could land U.S. citizens in hot water. And by “hot water,” we mean “prison.”
In its statement announcing the move, the Treasury says it believes the service has been used “to launder more than $7 billion of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.” Included in that is more than $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a North Korean, state-sponsored group of hackers (who, themselves, are already sanctioned), and other shady dealings by other shady actors.
As we saw in the case of Razzle Khan and her less-memorable spouse, hiding transactions on immutable and public blockchains can be really hard (whether or not they’re nefarious). Tornado Cash (and other services like Blender.io) aims to make it easier… and while it’s been linked to bad actors, like TOR and other privacy-focused services, there’s also an argument to made that anonymity isn’t just valuable to some people, but in the case of activists, the persecuted, or the surveilled, it can be essential and life-saving.
In a bizarre twist to the tale, some ETH wallets linked to high-profile people like Shaquille O'Neal, Beeple, and Jimmy Fallon have been receiving small deposits from addresses linked to Tornado Cash, presumably in an effort to put them in OFAC’s sights, while also showing how hard it’s going to be for U.S. cryptocurrency users to ensure their transactions don’t involve funds that have moved through Tornado at one time or another.
Because that’s what the new approach means: anyone interacting with wallets or funds connected to the protocol could face criminal charges (this thread gets deep into the details). Instead of focusing on specific targets, OFAC is targeting a tool used by good and bad actors alike. We have a feeling this is going to get messy, folks. It’s going to be hard to police, and it sets a worrying precedent.
🤔 Pro-tips from a pro ✅
Probably nothing 🤔
There’ve been two big CC0-related moves recently. The first involved artist XCOPY making their (non-collaborative) works available under the Creative Commons “No Rights Reserved” model, which allows anyone to use a piece of IP with impunity. It’s an unusual move in the traditional art world, and with XCOPY being such a recognizable name, letting people rework or remix pieces will likely only bolster the value of XCOPY originals.
The other involved Moonbirds, the PFP collection of pixelated owls from entrepreneur Kevin Rose’s Proof Collective. Rose announced that Moonbirds (and its spin-off Oddities collection) are going the CC0 route, opprobrium ensued, and the floor price dropped 3 ETH (~$5,500). The problem is that some Moonbirds holders were making plans to commercialize their birbs. Now that anyone can do so without holding a birb, those same holders worry their feathery, two-dimensional investments are worth less (or worse, could become worthless).
A key factor at play is expectations. Though Proof didn’t promise exclusive commercial rights to Moonbirds holders, the fact that the project wasn’t explicitly CC0 at the outset has ruffled feathers. Meanwhile, XCOPY holders didn’t expect CC0 but now have them… and likely had no plans to commercialize their XCOPY pieces anyway. They expected less and got more. Moonbirds holders expected more and got less.
Happy birthday Nouns 🎂
Meanwhile, a project that has been CC0 from the outset, Nouns, this week celebrated its first birthday. Nouns is a fully on-chain project of procedurally generated characters that are auctioned at a rate of one each day, and which continue to sell for ~100 ETH ( ~$185,000) each.
In addition to their Noun, buyers get to vote on governance issues of (and proposals put to) the Nouns DAO, and get to shape how the Nouns Treasury is deployed. Today, a year and two days after Noun 0 was auctioned, the contents of the Treasury’s coffers sits at 26,731 ETH ($49,617,807). You could buy a lot of birthday cakes with that… assuming Nouns holders signed off on the purchase, of course.
Mint or the goo gets it 🍌
National Lampoon is partnering with Non-Fungible Films to create NFTs from its sprawling catalog of humor-focused IP. Non-Fungible Films is already working with Bored Ape Yacht Club to develop a TV series based on the ennui-burdened simians, so it’s not a total unknown.
Details are light, but it appears the first National Lampoon NFTs will rework some of its more iconic IP into digital collectibles. See, for instance, the magazine cover above, which mimics the infamous “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” cover of the January 1973 issue (#7) of National Lampoon Magazine.
Bag boosters 💰
The week that was (August 3 - 10, 2022) 🗓
Remarkably, The Potatoz has seen enough activity this week to keep it on the charts, though it’s tumbled from third position to ninth. But the real outlier this week is Rare Apepe YC, which has enjoyed a wild ride to second spot despite being a horrifying amalgam of two icons of the NFT space (BAYC and Rare Pepes) as hideous as it is derivative. But if it’s common sense and good taste you’re after, anon, what are you doing here?
Now that’s what we call a wage gap 🤬
It’s not news that the art world has a gender imbalance problem… but now some fresh, hard, sobering data to back up just how bad the problem is. The Guardian has a damning story that shows men’s paintings tend to fetch 10x what those painted by women do. Yikes.
If web3 is going to be the inclusive, equitable, playing field-leveling place it claims it wants to be, these are precisely the sort of historical imbalances it should endeavor to solve. Where to start? Well, aside from picking up more work by female artists, we can all stop talking about “female-led” or “female-focused” NFT projects. We don’t talk about “female doctors” or “female pilots,” why should art be any different?
⚰️ Stevey are you A-okay? 🔥
To the moon 🌜
Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik “Shiba pants” Buterin has some ideas for adding privacy to NFT transactions so only only the sender and the recipient can identify one another.
The Weeknd spent over 40 ETH (~$70,000) on 47 pieces by artist FVCKRENDER.
Bored Ape Yacht Club is nearing 1 million Twitter followers and plans to celebrate with *checks notes* a Twitter Spaces.
Mega Mutant #30005 sold privately for nearly $4 million.
Tiffany & Co.’s drop of 250 NFTiffs sold out despite their 30 ETH (~$50,000) price point.
Magic Eden (which last week announced plans to add ETH NFTs) is now talking about building an ApeCoin-based marketplace purely for trading Bored Apes.
Goats only 🐐
Whether you’re team CC0 or team All Rights Reserved, you should be watching or listening to Goats and the Metaverse.
In each episode, collectibles OG and entrepreneur Stan “The Goat” Meytin and Metaversal co-founder and CEO Yossi Hasson talk about digital and IRL collectibles, NFTs, offer their insights and expertise, and dive into the week’s news worth knowing.
Aside from providing invaluable insights into digital art and collectibles, Stan and Yossi are also putting together a collection of NFTs dubbed “The Goat Vault.” When the show hits 5,000 subscribers on YouTube, one of those lucky subscribers will win the contents of the vault which, at last count, was valued at over 11.65 ETH (~$19,700).
Money <> mouth 💸
Each week we offer you a look at an NFT project we’ve invested in and the motivation behind it. This week we’re looking at “Contrapuntos #703” by Marcelo Soria-Rodríguez.
We’d describe the Contrapuntos collection to you… but Soria-Rodríguez does it so much better than we ever could:
Musical counterpoint is to me an abstraction of the layered, intertwining rhythms of every activity we carry on in our lives. With a global tempo typically set in days, we fit all sorts of temporal structures where our joys and fears live and play out over the span of our lives. This series is a metaphorical transposition of the musical counterpoint into a visual space, sometimes with repeating patterns, sometimes with broken structures, sometimes isolated notes / hours / souls.
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.