NFTs are steadily becoming less niche and more mainstream — and with more exposure comes more responsibility. A major NFT project saw a huge price crash on Monday after the designer behind it was found to have drawn racist cartoons in the 70s.
The project in question is called Jungle Freaks, and is what’s known as a “profile pic collection”. It’s a set of 10,000 hand-drawn NFTs, each with different properties that, like Pokemon cards, make some more valuable than others. Launching on Oct. 16, it had a “floor price” of 1.45 Ether as of 24 hours ago. That means the cheapest, most common Jungle Freaks were selling for $6,260. Rarer NFTs were trading for much higher, like this Jungle Freak that sold for $95,000.
Much of the project’s success was tied to George Trosley, the designer of the NFTs. Trosley is a famous cartoonist, whose works have appeared in Hustler magazine since its inception in 1974. On Monday, some of those ’70s Hustler works were circulated on Twitter and on several Discord servers. Due to their confronting racist imagery, which includes but is not limited to depictions of the Ku Klux Klan, I won’t embed the cartoon in this story. You can find them here, but be warned. They are discomfortingly offensive.
Their online circulation caused the price of Jungle Freaks to drop precipitously. The floor price has been floating between 0.2 and 0.3 for the past few hours, or between $865 and $1,300, a drop of around 80%. Sales volume has gone up by over 10x from previous days, meaning more and more owners are willing to part with their NFT. One such owner is actor Elijah Wood, who was known to hold several Jungle Freaks. He tweeted a statement out calling the racist cartoons “disturbing”, adding that’ he’s sold his Jungle Freaks NFTs and donated the funds to Black Lives Matter.
While cryptocurrencies live or die based on hype or market sentiment, community involvement is a strong element of successful NFT collections. This is because a collection’s value is to a large extent determined by the lowest price one owner is willing to sell it for. The price fluctuations of Jungle Freaks in the coming weeks and months will indicate how a high-profile NFT weighs racism up with profit seeking.
Jungle Freaks is managed by Trosley’s son, George III. The younger Trosley put out a statement via Twitter apologizing for the cartoons. “The cartoons my father drew are horrible,” he wrote. “These images were brought to light recently and there hasn’t been a better time to accept responsibility, learn from it, and extend our sincerest apologies.”
“This was the culture Larry Flint and Hustler pushed, it was incorrect then and it’s incorrect now.”
Hustler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.