Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Six months after Yuga Labs first responded to accusations that its NFT collection, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, contained racist imagery, its founders have published a blog post addressing the issue in further detail.
“We’ve become the target of a crazy disinformation campaign accusing us—a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani, and Cuban friends—of being super-secret Nazis,” Yuga Labs co-founder Gordon Goner (whose real name is Wylie Aronow) wrote on Medium on Friday.
He called the accusations “insanely far-fetched” and “bullshit,” and shared that in his view, it was time to “put an end to all this.”
As you may have heard, we’ve become the target of a crazy disinformation campaign accusing us - a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani, and Cuban friends - of being super-secret Nazis. 🧵
— GordonGoner.eth (@GordonGoner) June 24, 2022
Goner pointed out that Yuga Labs has already explained much of its origins in previous posts, but went on to provide further context on the origin of the BAYC logo, the name “Yuga Labs,” and the founding teams’ pseudonyms, among other things.
“There’s a long history of people affectionately referring to themselves as apes in crypto,” Goner explained regarding the team’s decision to create Ape avatars.
He also shared a private email that provides insight into the creation of the BAYC logo, which was inspired by skateboard culture, hip hop, Japanese anime, and streetwear culture, according to the message.
Goner called anti-BAYC activist Ryder Ripps a “troll” who is “spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories online and using them to sell knockoff NFTs.”
Ripps, a creative director who created the website gordongoner.com to detail his theories on why the BAYC is “racist” and “contains Nazi dog whistles,” created an Ethereum NFT collection, RR/BAYC, that directly swiped BAYC art. Ripps’s profile picture on Twitter is his RR/BAYC avatar.
Ripps’s collection has since been removed from OpenSea due to “a claim of intellectual property infringement.”
Before it was removed from OpenSea, Ripps’s collection saw roughly 2,900 ETH in total volume traded ($3.48 million). When asked on Tuesday what he planned to do with the funds from the collection, Ripps told Decrypt that he is "going to use it to pay Neil Strauss to write a book on me."
In a May Instagram post, Ripps said he created the RR/BAYC NFTs in an effort to “take down” Yuga Labs. “The work is a provocation and its [sic] working to take down this company."
Ripps did not respond to Decrypt’s further request for comment on Friday.
The racism claims against BAYC are months old and rely primarily on obscure references to minute details in the NFT collection’s artwork, the pseudonyms chosen by the founders, and even seemingly inconsequential mentions in social media posts from either the founders or their family members. For instance, Ripps claims a reference to the word “cowabunga” in the Instagram bio of co-founder Garga’s wife is evidence of a coded nod to the “alt-right.”
“Garga’s wife is Mexican-American, and she likes the Ninja Turtles, like millions of people,” Goner’s blog post today responded.
Nevertheless, the accusations were resurrected this week after a YouTuber named Philion published an hour-long video called “BORED APE NAZI CLUB” which dove into Ripps’s claims in detail. The video now has nearly 850,000 views.
Goner and Yuga Labs today dismissed both the video and Ripps’s original blog post as an elaborate troll. “Overall, we think it’s crazy these conspiracy theories have been able to proliferate. It really shows the power that a demented troll on the internet can have,” Goner said.