The incredibly strange story behind the man who made millions selling "fake" BAYC NFTs calling the creators Nazis.
One of the main selling points, if not THE main selling point, of NFTs is their immutable and “non-fungible” nature. There’s essentially a code attached to each one, and that code distinguishes one as “real” and the other as “fake.” The issue, however, is most people, even those in the crypto space, really have no idea what they're doing. People may or may not actually verify if it’s “real,” and it can actually be incredibly difficult to actually verify it.
Each NFT has a code that looks something like this:
If BAYC had a giant list of every token address under their project, you could simply go there and cross-check it… but they don’t. Since NFTs are minted on the buyer side, it’s not even really possible. This means you essentially need to look through an endless list of transactions or look at every trade from beginning to end to make sure it was minted from BAYC. This is assuming you know how to look through Etherscan, what to look for, and how any of this actually works. The overwhelming majority of people, even those that are buying these NFTs, aren’t going to do this, don’t know how, and don’t care (fair).
The information isn’t easily attainable because most of the education out there is put out by people who also have no idea, also don’t care, or are just trying to scam you. The best way, without a doubt, is to check etherscan and verify authenticity there. That’s the “source,” but when you google it, you get advice like this:
So, if I do a reverse image search for a picture (the scam picture… is still gonna show up?), spend lots of money, and buy on OpenSea… I’m good? I’m guessing this is the logic the thousands of people that spent millions of dollars on fake BAYC NFTs used. There are lots of issues with NFTs, and the ‘non-fungible’ nature of NFTs is actually kind of made up since it’s actually pretty difficult to determine authenticity, and you can make endless copies of the same monkey picture link.
So, let’s say you see something like “RR/BAYC” blowing up on OpenSea. You think, “Oh wow, a new BAYC collection!” So, you go ask your rich parents for money to buy monkey pictures and go to down buying up monkey pictures. You go to Etherscan, you see this was minted in a collection, and this is from the same “RR/BAYC” that everyone else is buying. After a few hours, you verified the authenticity that this is the same RR/BAYC that everyone else is buying. The floor price is about $2500, and you think, “What a steal!” You start buying them up, thinking, “No way EVERYONE is getting scammed!” You can’t find anything from Yuga labs or the rest of the internet about it, but its volume is up 20,000%, so you don’t want to miss out!
So, you buy yours up only to find out it wasn’t the real deal!
Instead, it was… an artist making a fake collection of BAYC, calling the real creators Nazis…
That is the incredibly strange story behind RR/BAYC and the creator known Ryder Ripps. He does have a bit of a following on social media, so he likely drove some of the demand himself, then FOMO and misinformation probably kicked in. Various culminating factors likely drove this volume to the point where his ‘fake’ NFT collection actually outsold the real BAYC collection for a day.
This further shows the absolute ridiculousness of this whole scenario. You could “verify” the authenticity of a collection by searching through etherscan for a few hours, but it’s not even really possible to know if it’s the real Yuga Labs minting because the mint address is attached to a nameless wallet. Yuga Labs social media has been hacked several times, and
the hackers could simply tweet “New Launch” with a =link from the hacked Twitter account. To clarify, similar things to that have happened several times. Since things are “decentralized” and exclusively sold through third parties, it’s hard to tell when things are legit, even given the best indicators.
Ryder Ripps & RR/BAYC
Now, the RR/BAYC is even more interesting. The man, Ryder Ripps, is an artist who is highly critical of Yuga labs and the BAYC specifically. While Ryder Ripps isn’t necessarily outspoken about NFTs being bad technology in general, he has some of the best satire about the industry I have seen. He, frankly, blurs the lines between being an NFT fan and satire. For example, here is his Twitter:
He has the “.ETH” and NFT picture, but… that’s an rr/bayc. He has also made millions selling fake BAYC NFTs and crypto punks… and they’re actually more popular than the originals in many instances. He was the person that ultimately doxxed the creators of Yuga Labs and BAYC and called them Nazis and created many of the theories behind them being Nazis you see today. Despite being an artist, and a highly regarded one, he doesn’t sell ANY of his own art as NFTs. Rather he now has one of the most popular NFT collections of all time, but it's literally a satirical rip-off of the ‘original.’ The question then remains… Does that make his collection the “real” ones? The satire here is truly impressive because he has dedicated hundreds of hours and years of his life to this. Fortunately, it has paid off, making him millions of dollars, but still.
I’ll leave you with this: