The controversial Silkroad founder Ross Ulbricht caused another uproar by launching line of NFTs.
Who is Ross Ulbricht?
In a space full of controversial personalities, Ross Ulbricht still stands out. The Silk Road founder was famously imprisoned for his marketplace that knowingly or unknowingly facilitated the drug trade and facilitated getting your hands on even more nefarious goods. Ulbricht later became one of the most outspoken Bitcoin proponents, even speaking at a Bitcoin conference from his prison cell.
Recently, Ulbricht caused another stir when he announced plans to auction his Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection on the Superare NFT marketplace from December 2 to December 8. The eleven pieces of handmade art were then minted into NFTs by his supporters.
The artwork behind the NFTs depicts comic book characters and animals, taken from drawings from Ulbricht’s childhood, and scenes from his court trial and inner feelings he has had since being imprisoned. Ulbricht announced that the revenue from the auctions would go to a trust fund that is working on freeing him from prison, as well as to a fund that will help launch “Art4Giving,” a charity “dedicated to relieving the suffering of the incarcerated and their families.”
Crypto influencers less than impressed
We would not be talking about Ulbricht if there was not some controversy involved in his latest scheme. The crypto space was not exactly fond of Ulbricht’s plan, with Francis Pouliot, founder of Bull Bitcoin, criticising him for normalising “the insane and immoral NFT ponzi.” Another Twitter user half-jokingly slammed Ulbricht for adopting NFTs, saying that he “can tolerate the creation of international drug and weapons markets. But NFTS is where I draw the line.”
But it was not all criticism. Crypto Cobain, the host of UpOnly, lauded Ulbricht for helping early Bitcoin adoption and said that he would bid for the NFTs once released.
Ross Ulbricht NFTs fetch millions
While Cobain did not actually get his hands on the first NFT auctioned, Ulbricht must have been pleased with the launch, as it fetched an impressive 1,446 ETH, well over $8 million AUD. SuperRare kicked off the auction at Art Basel Miami, an NFT and Bitcoin-focused get-together.
The auction’s winner, FreeRossDAO, the decentralised autonomous organisation undertaking efforts to free Ulbricht from imprisonment, said that it wants to “share Ross’s work with the world and give everyone a unique opportunity to own a piece of it.” The initial NFT was called “Perspective” (featured above) and was drawn in prison using graphite pencil.
The NFT trend is still going strong
While Ulbricht getting involved in NFTs may or may not help Bitcoin shed its image as a crime coin, you could argue that he is just following the trend here. After all, Facebook announced it would incorporate NFTs into its metaverse, and Adobe said it would offer NFT verification in Photoshop. Even though the profile picture craze may be temporarily halted, big companies are starting to pick up the pace. Don’t expect NFTs to go off the radar any time soon.