YEREVAN (CoinChapter.com) — Accusations calling Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) nazi racist persist. Its creators are having a tough time brushing off labels of being Nazi sympathizers.
As CoinChapter had earlier reported, Yuga Labs, the company behind the project, had come under the scanner. Some of the images used, including its logo, allegedly have hidden Nazi symbolism.
The controversy began when artist Ryder Ripps alleged in January that BAYC was bigoted, xenophobic, and racist. According to Ripps, who has collaborated with artists like Kanye West and brands like Gucci and Soylent, the team behind Yuga Labs are white supremacists.
As “proof” of his claims, he created a website called gordongoner.com, named after Yuga Labs co-founder Wylie Aronow’s Twitter pseudonym. On the website, he points out symbols and characters which supposedly show bored ape yacht club made Nazi references.
The logo, for instance, allegedly has a stark reference to Hitler’s SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-Death’s Head units). The special force originally came into existence to guard the concentration camps where the Nazis tortured and killed the Jews.
Moreover, he argued that BAYC contained biased, problematic caricatures targeting black, Jewish, and Asian people. Apparently, Yuga Labs also released Bored Ape Yacht Club and the more recent “The Otherside” NFT project on April 30th, the date of Hitler’s death.
Six months after Ryder Ripps kickstarted the “BAYC is racist” debate, the controversy has come back to haunt Yuga Labs. A new YouTube video by Philip Rusnack titled has reignited the entire discussion.
Stretching over one hour, Rusnack’s video titled “Bored Ape Nazi Club” relies heavily on Ryder Ripps’s website to label BAYC as “one massive alt-right inside joke”.
After going into detail about all the various supposed links and references to nazism and racism, he did something that wouldn’t go down well with Yuga Labs.
At the end of the video, Rusnack promoted a knock-off BAYC collection by Ripps. Dubbed the “Ryder Ribbs Bored Ape Yacht Club (RR BAYC), the collection uses the exact images of the original BAYC collection.
Although the entire collection sold out, both Looks Rare and Open Sea has since delisted from the collection. They claim infringement of copyright to back their decision.
However, it was enough to trigger Yuga Labs to deny the allegations.
Responding to the claims made in the video, Yuga Labs published a lengthy post on Medium. Going to almost every allegation, the team gives detailed clarifications, asking the community not to believe the “crazy disinformation campaign“.
Yuga Labs also quoted support from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to counter anti-Jewish allegations. ADL is an international Jewish NGO in the United States exposing extremism and racism.
“The Nazi Totenkopf is one very specific graphic design of a skull and crossbones, and the monkey skull resembles it in no way except insofar as all skulls resemble each other to a certain degree.”
Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the ADL’s Center on Extremism said.
Angered by Ryder Ripps as well as the recent video calling Bored Ape Yacht Club racist, Yuga Labs has moved to court.
Besides suing for defamation, the lawyers of BAYC accuse Ripps of false advertising, unjust enrichment, trademark infringement, and cybersquatting, amongst other similar claims.
The complaint also names Jeremy Cahen, the founder of NFT marketplace Not Larva Labs, and ten Does as defendants.
“In order to put a stop to the continuous infringement, and other illegal attempts to bring harm to us and the BAYC community, we have filed a lawsuit against the responsible parties. We will continue exploring and pursuing all legal options at our disposal,”
Ironically, just days earlier, Ripps had thrown an open challenge to Yuga Labs, douting that they would ever sue him.
His confidence came from the fact that he defeated a DMCA takedown request related to RR/BAYC in May. To him, that came as proof that one can copy NFTs without legal consequences.
However, Yuga Labs believes they can make a good case of it.
Meanwhile, Ryder Ripps is accusing the project of trying to silence him through the lawsuit.
As the debate rages on, the industry will have its eyes on the court case. Perhaps the outcome will reveal if Ripps is justified in calling Bored Ape Yacht Club racist. Moreover, it will set a precedence for future cases, should the court rule, that NFTs cannot be copied.
Yerevan-based Editor and writer focusing on topics about cryptocurrencies, NFTs, politics, and international relations. Having completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, he currently works as a reporter at CoinChapter.
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