Yuga Labs acquires Moonbirds amid speculation of insider trading

Pixel art of a white owl with one squinting eye, wearing a forest ranger hat, on a light green backgroundMoonbirds #768 (attribution)
On February 16, the NFT giant Yuga Labs announced it would be acquiring the Moonbirds NFT project. This adds to list of blue-chip NFT collections controlled by Yuga Labs, which already included their original Bored Ape Yacht Club and spin-off NFT collections, and the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections they acquired in March 2022. Decentralized!

Anyway, after the acquisition was announced, prices for Moonbirds spiked, as was to be expected.

What wasn't expected was a notable spike in trading in the days leading up to the acquisition announcement, in which some wallets began accumulating large amounts of Moonbirds and related NFTs. One such wallet purchased 80 Moonbirds, 71 Moonbird Mythics, 28 Oddities, and 13 Mythic eggs in the week leading up to the announcement, and enjoyed several hundred thousand dollars in profits after the acquisition was announced.

Creator of "Robotos" NFT project, once collaborating on a TV series with TIME studios, accused of rug pull

A doodle of a robot with a gold crown, a blue suit jacket over a white shirt and black tie, and pink eyesRoboto #2767 (attribution)
Pablo Stanley, an artist who created the "Robotos" generative NFT collection, posted two final messages from the Robotos Twitter account. First, "it was a good run! thank u, all!", then an image of the Twitter log-out button with "forever and ever".

Rewind to November 2021, when it was announced that TIME Magazine's film and production studio would be collaborating with Stanley to develop a children's animated TV show based on the Robotos NFTs. The announcement helped to drive interest in the NFT collection, which reached a peak floor price of around 1.5 ETH (~$5,000 at the time).

Since then, no show has materialized, and the collection's floor price has dwindled. NFTs from the collection have recently sold for around 0.015 ETH (~$42). In the project Discord, Stanley claimed that TIME had lost interest in the project after the writer's strike. He also wrote that he had lost faith in web3: "Glad you still believe. It's hard for me to believe in it anymore." He explained that he had viewed Robotos as a "personal side project", and that he was "sorry if that's not enough for most people, but that's all I have the appetite for, and that's all I can offer."

Yuga Labs bungles "free" Otherside NFT drop

An illustration of a grey cylinder, seemingly made from stone, with glowing gold light inside it appearing through some cracks and designsyuga-ship-part (attribution)
Some fans of Yuga Labs (the company behind Bored Apes and the much-anticipated Otherside metaverse gaming project) are questioning how much progress the company can really have made on the as-yet-unreleased flagship Otherside gaming project, if they managed to screw up an NFT design this badly.

Yuga released a new NFT, intending to function as ship parts that could be combined to create a ship to be used in the game. Players who had completed an Otherside minigame would be eligible to mint these NFTs for free. However, the "free" NFT cost around $30 in gas fees to mint. Worse still, the parts were meant to be repeatedly traded and combined to make new parts and ships, leading fans to wonder why on earth they decided to release the project on a blockchain where each transaction often costs tens of dollars.

Apparently realizing they'd made a mistake, Yuga first responded by announcing they would gift people free "Catalyst" NFTs to make it up to them. This only sparked further rage, though, as it was seen to dilute the value of the Catalyst NFTs and throw off incentives.

Yuga later reversed course on this decision, instead deciding to reimburse the gas fees.

This was not Yuga Labs' first gas-related fiasco, after they caused gas fees to spike into the thousands of dollars across the entire Ethereum network in April 2022 during the initial Otherside land sale.

One observer wrote, "[W]hat's the plan for the marketplace in Otherside that is supposed to support millions of daily microtransaction? I'm afraid this means Otherside is much less developed than we would like to hope. These decisions are entry level mistakes, not mistakes we should see from the biggest company in the space developing a metaverse. If the Otherside mint wasn't an eye opener, then this wont be either."

Dwight Howard's NFT project flops

An illustration of Dwight Howard in 3/4 profile, wearing shades with "Ballers" across the front in LEDs, and a tank top with the Avalanche logo pinned on a strapBallers NFT project artwork (attribution)
NBA star Dwight Howard is clearly at least a year (probably two) late to the time when celebrities and star athletes could drop some low-effort NFTs and sell out the whole batch immediately. After announcing his "Ballers" project on January 20, offering 3,000 NFTs for a mint price of 2 AVAX (~$60) apiece, he only managed to sell about 300 of them within a day or so.

After the dismal launch, Howard tried a few somewhat desperate-seeming moves to try to attract interest in the project: promising to send free crypto to some holders, redoing all the art after criticism of its quality, and slashing the NFT supply to 1,500. Despite all that, only 465 NFTs have sold (15% of the original supply, netting Howard 930 AVAX — around $28,400).

The flop was so bad that a member of the team behind the Avalanche blockchain put out a tweet distancing themselves from the project, stating that they didn't even know about the project until he announced it. "Gone are the days that individuals/Brands with large followings can just drop IP related NFTs out of nowhere and expect it to do well," they wrote, seemingly criticizing Howard's approach by writing that NFT creators must "mak[e] sure to do it in an organic way with proper intentions."

Luis Rubiales' NFT launch condemns "radicalism and feminist extremism" and describes alleged assault as "a small mistake"

Luis RubialesLuis Rubiales (attribution)
Apparently, former president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation Luis Rubiales has decided the way to rehabilitate his reputation after forcibly kissing a soccer player and being banned from football is to... release an NFT project.

In an announcement posted on Rubiales' Twitter account, the South Korean Moon Labs wrote: "Yes, we agree that Mr. Luis Rubiales made a small mistake in women world cup." The statement went on to condemn "extremism and radical feminism", and downplay Rubiales' actions as not "really" sexual assault. "Yes, Luis did small mistake but probably the biggest mistake was losing Luis Rubiales in football part [sic]."

Gamestop is shutting down its NFT marketplace

Just as the NFT marketplace was entering collapse in May 2022, GameStop decided it would be a great time to launch an NFT marketplace. The marketplace launched in July, and made headlines for a rather unfortunate reason.

Evidently the platform has still been running since then, though it rarely enjoys much mention alongside its many competitors.

Now, rolling out the classic "regulatory uncertainty" line, GameStop has announced it will be shutting down the marketplace. After shutting down a crypto wallet project in November, the company seems to have fully exited the crypto world.

So long, hexagon: Twitter removes NFT profile picture support

Just about two years after launching a feature in which NFT owners could show off their NFTs with special, hexagonal profile pictures, Twitter has apparently removed support for adding NFT avatars.

It's unclear if the move is spurred by the massively waning interest in NFTs, or if it's part of Twitter's broad slashing of functionality in the wake of Elon Musk's disastrous takeover and cost-cutting attempts.

Those who already had the hexagonal profile pictures now seem to have had them restored to their usual circular shape, and there's no longer any mention of the feature in Twitter's support documentation, and new NFT profile photos can't be uploaded. People can, of course, still right-click and save the images and upload them that way.

"Undead Apes Society" creator charged over rug pull

A grey ape skull on a blue background with clouds. The skull has a pink and green mohawk, a laser module for eyes, and teeth resembling piano keys. It's wearing a shredded white dress shirt with a tie.Undead Ape #1 (attribution)
The creator of a Solana-based NFT project called Undead Apes Society has been charged with money laundering conspiracy and making false statements to investigators after rug-pulling fans of his NFT project. Devin Rhoden, an active duty Senior Airman in the US Air Force, had created the project and minted two collections: UndeadApes and Undead Lady Apes. They promised to then mint a third collection, "Undead Tombstones", which was highly anticipated. However, the project turned out to be a rug pull, and the prices of the two previous collections also plummeted as a result of their connection to a scam project. The Undead Tombstones project raised 1,250 SOL in April 2022, which was at the time priced at around $128,000.

When investigators subpoenaed Discord for Rhoden's chat logs, they found messages celebrating the rug pull. "good shit on us making a fuck ton of money," he wrote to his co-conspirator.

"Top tier" NFTs stolen in NFT Trader hack

A collage of Bored Apes, Mutant Apes, and World of Women NFTs stolen in the NFT Trader hackSome of the stolen NFTs (attribution)
Attackers exploited old smart contracts from the NFT Trader peer-to-peer NFT trading application to steal pricey NFTs, including at least 37 Bored Apes, 13 Mutant Apes, and NFTs from the VeeFriends and World of Women collections. Some ETH and APE tokens were also stolen. Altogether, the stolen NFTs are priced at around $3 million, though the hacker may not be able to liquidate them for that ammount.

One attacker claimed in on-chain messages that the original attack had been perpetrated by someone else, but that they were one of the many copycat attackers, describing themselves as someone who had "[come] here to pick up residual garbage". They requested victims send additional ETH to get their NFTs back. "If you want the monkey nft back, then you need to pay me a bouty, which is what I deserve", they wrote, asking for NFT holders to send them 10% of the Ape floor price.

Meanwhile, NFT holders were urged to revoke access to NFT Trader, since the platform seemed aware of the attack but unable to stop it. NFT Trader was ultimately able to thwart the attacker to stem additional bleeding, likely thanks to help from community members who pointed out a way the contract could be shut down.

Later, the "residual garbage" attacker returned 36 Bored Apes and 18 Mutant Apes after a Yuga Labs co-founder paid the 120 ETH (~$260,000) ransom.

Grifter-in-chief Donald Trump hawks mugshot NFTs

Trading card style illustration featuring the Trump mugshot, with an arrow showing that a scrap of the suit will come with some of the purchasesPromotional image for the Trump NFTs (attribution)
The collapse of the NFT bubble hasn't stopped Donald Trump from trying to cash out. Following in the footsteps of his wife, who timed things much better as far as interest in NFTs goes, the former president launched his first NFT collection in December 2022. He was later accused of using stolen artwork in the collection.

Now, Trump is hawking a new set of $99 NFTs, featuring the August 2023 mugshot taken in connection to his ongoing racketeering lawsuit. Those who purchase 47 of the NFTs — amounting to $4,653 plus fees — are promised a scrap of the suit Trump wore in the mugshot and a dinner with the president-turned-fulltime criminal defendant.

The fine print, however, reserves the possibility that neither promise will come through.

No JavaScript? That's cool too! Check out the Web 1.0 version of the site to see more entries.