Hours ago, a website appeared online with the express purpose of hosting a nearly 20TB torrent (that’s terabytes, folks, the big boys of digital data measurement) containing every NFT available through the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. It is the NFT heist of the century.
This article first appeared on Kotaku Australia on November 19, 2021. It has been retimed as a weekend read.
The NFT Bay, whose name and overall design riff on iconic torrent database The Pirate Bay, is the work of one Geoffrey Huntley, an Australian software and dev ops engineer. In a frequently asked questions document written up for annoying reporters like me, Huntley describes The NFT Bay as an “educational art project” designed to teach the public about what NFTs are and aren’t, in the hopes that fewer folks get swindled by the technology’s innumerable grifters.
“Fundamentally, I hope people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image,” Huntley explained. “The image is not stored on the blockchain and the majority of images I’ve seen are hosted on web 2.0 storage, which is likely to end up as 404, meaning the NFT has even less value.”
Huntley’s main inspiration for The NFT Bay was Pauline Pantsdown, the drag persona of Australian satirist Simon Hunt, who in the past parodied controversial politician Pauline Hanson due to Hanson’s right-wing policies.
“Sometimes the wrong things get airtime and the only way to cut right through to the core is with art,” Huntley added on Twitter alongside a link to a short Pauline Pantsdown documentary.
NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) have been the talk of the town over the last year, rapidly accruing supporters even as the technology’s reputation tanked. And while most of the backlash is confined to social media jokes about “stealing” NFTs by way of right-clicking and saving the (usually terrible) artwork associated with the blockchain-minted (and thus incredibly harmful to the environment) tokens, major figures in the gaming industry have also taken notice.
Last month, Steam banned games that had anything to do with NFTs or cryptocurrency, prompting 26 developers to send Valve what my colleague Luke Plunkett aptly described as “a very sad letter” whining about the company’s decision. Xbox boss Phil Spencer more recently called NFTs “exploitative” during an interview with Axios. But sadly, for every Valve, Xbox, and independent dev turning down NFTs, there’s also an Ubisoft, Sega, and Square Enix happily getting in on the grift. One wonders how long it will take for an NFT heist to strike those publishers too.
“[NFTs] are only valuable as tools for money laundering, tax evasion, and greater fool investment fraud,” wrote computer scientist Antsstyle in a scathing criticism of the technology, the long version of which is perhaps the most comprehensive breakdown of the ills posed by NFTs, cryptocurrency, and the blockchain on which they operate. “There is zero actual value to NFTs. Their sole purpose is to create artificial scarcity of an artwork to supposedly increase its value.”
This is pretty funny. The sooner NFTs die, the better.
Mad lad lol. What are the nft owners gonna do lol. They can’t submit a DMCA takedown since they don’t own the copyright.
What a hero.
Looking at those monkeys in the header, why on earth would anyone pay for them? They’re all awful
The funniest part is that the actual images are meaningless. They are a label for a unit of speculation. A lot of the owners seem to have a similar vibe to hat/sneaker guys, collectors. And crypto guys, so much of their identity is wrapped in the coins they support. They all have vastly different motivations and ideas of what the value actually is. Some just want to be rich because they are better than other people, and some have an anti-establishment free internet ideology behind it. Though I’m not sure how that fits in with claiming individual ownership of images.
The main saving grace of the price of these units seems to be that value does actually exist in laundering, tax evasion, black markets, fraud etc. Speculation is a big part, but how much? We really have no idea what is going on.
This situation isn’t sustainable forever. Governments are likely to regulate these markets a lot more, for one thing. At some point someone is going to be holding a lot of worthless crap.
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