Bored Ape

bored ape

Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a non-fungible token (NFT) collection built on the Ethereum blockchain. The collection features profile pictures of cartoon apes that are procedurally generated by an algorithm.

The parent company of Bored Ape Yacht Club is Yuga Labs. The project launched in April 2021. Owners of a Bored Ape NFT are granted access to a private online club, exclusive in-person events, and intellectual property rights for the image.

As of 2022, sales of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs have totaled over US$1 billion. Various celebrities have purchased these non-fungible tokens, including singer Justin Bieber, television host Jimmy Fallon, rapper Snoop Dogg, singer Madonna, Neymar, Paris Hilton, DJ Steve Aoki, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaquille O’Neal, Adidas, Mark Cuban, Post Malone, and Steph Curry.

Bored Ape NFTs owners are considered in possession of ‘a unique unit of data recorded in a digital blockchain, which permanently records its provenance or sales history.’ The collection exists on the Ethereum blockchain and contains 10,000 unique NFTs derived from 172 unique assets. The NFTs dually function as a membership card to Yacht Club. Membership to the club includes access to THE BATHROOM (stylized in all caps), a digital graffiti board. The NFTs were originally sold for 0.08 ether each, around $190 at the time of their launch and were sold out in 12 hours.

As BAYC ‘has made it clear that NFT holders have full commercialization rights to their ape,’ Bored Apes differ from other NFTs in that ‘whoever owns a Bored Ape can spin it into whatever film, music, TV, book, or media project they want.’

Two of the founders of BAYC, going by the pseudonyms ‘Gargamel’ and ‘Gordon Goner,’ describe themselves as ‘literary bros.’ The two told ‘The New Yorker’ they initially bonded by arguing about the work of David Foster Wallace. In an interview with ‘CoinDesk,’ ‘they evoked Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of the unutterable to describe [Bored Apes].’ The two of them grew up together in Miami. The other two founders go by the pseudonyms ‘No Sass’ and ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup.’ The latter derived his alias from the 1996 Stereolab album of the same name, itself named after the 1971 film.

In February 2022, Gargamel and Gordon Goner’s identities were revealed to be Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow, respectively, by ‘BuzzFeed News.’ Upon this reveal, Nicole Muniz, the CEO of Yuga Labs confirmed BuzzFeed’s report. Solano and Aronow went to Twitter, commenting they were doxxed and uploaded images of themselves next to their Bored Ape profile pictures. Solano is a writer and editor, while No Sass and Emperor Ketchup are programmers. Aronow has been documented as planning to attend an MFA program, before falling ill and becoming a cryptocurrency day trader.

Solano and Aronow came up with the concept of ‘a shared digital canvas’ which they likened to bathroom at a dive bar, and they created a science-fiction storyline centered around it. In an interview with ‘The New Yorker,’ Aronow elaborated on the concept, which centered on early cryptocurrency investors all becoming billionaires: ‘Now they’re just fucking bored. What do you do now that you’re wealthy beyond your wildest dreams? You’re going to hang out in a swamp club with a bunch of apes and get weird.’ Aronow clarified that apes were chosen as a mascot for the NFT because of the cryptocurrency phrase ‘aping in,’ meaning to buy into a new currency or NFT with abandon, risking a significant amount of money.

All Seeing Seneca, or simply Seneca, an Asian-American artist is credited as the lead designer of the artwork featured in Bored Ape NFTs. Gargamel stated that ‘Thomas Dagley, Migwashere, and a couple who chose to remain anonymous’ handled traits and environments. Seneca did however, ‘develop some of the major traits, like the grinning mouth, the popping eyes, and the beanie.’

After Bored Ape NFTs became popular, Yuga Labs hired artists, social media managers, Discord community managers, and a CFO. In response to the popularity surrounding Bored Ape, Aronow stated that BAYC was aiming to be a ‘Web3 lifestyle company.’ The company released secondary assets like Bored Ape Kennel Club, Mutant Serum, and Mutant Ape Yacht Club, which has increased BAYC’s worth, brought more users into the ecosystem and rewarded previous holders and investors. In March 2022, Yuga Labs acquired all of competing NFTs CryptoPunks and Meebits intellectual property for an undisclosed sum.

In March 2022, ApeCoin DAO launched its own token separate from Yuga Labs known as ‘ApeCoin’ ($APE).[21] ApeCoin is an ERC-20 (the most commonly used token on the Ethereum network) and utility token used for culture, gaming, and commerce within the Bored Ape ecosystem. NFT collectors can join ApeCoin DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization by owning $APE, ApeCoin.

In Aril 2022, the official Instagram account of the company was hacked and a phishing link was posted on it. As a result, four Bored Ape NFTs, along with ten more from related collections by Yuga Labs, were stolen with a total estimated worth of approximately $3 million. $1 million worth of funds were transferred into the hacker’s account. Later that month, Yuga Labs launched its metaverse Otherside, as a collaboration with Animoca Brands.

Bored Ape Yacht Club holds hosted events in New York, California, Hong Kong, and the UK for its owners. In November 2021, the company held a yacht party and a performance featuring Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari, and The Strokes as part of an entertainment weekend in New York.

Jonathan Jones of ‘The Guardian’ was critical of the Bored Apes NFTs’ impact on digital art. Jones opined that the NFT ‘should put an end to any romanticism about NFT art. It puts the consumer experience first and has absolutely nothing to do with empowering artists. It’s all about the collector’s ego.’ He also wrote that ‘The attitude says it all. Bored, emptied out, wrecked, and proud of it. That’s how the NFT art investors all feel, apparently. And so they should. NFTs are not good for art. They are not liberating for artists.’


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