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Spice DAO to Dissolve After Infamous ‘Dune’ Book Auction

Closing the deal for Alejandro Jodorowsky's storyboards was only the start of the DAO's problems.

4 min read

The Spice has ceased to flow. Spice DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization formed to buy Alejandro Jodorowsky's storyboard collection known as the "Dune Bible," announced its plan to dissolve today and pay out holders of the Spice token in ETH.

Spice DAO, originally named Dune DAO, was co-founded by Soban “Soby” Saqib to win the auction of a rare copy of the Jodorowsky production manual for a failed earlier production of Dune.

A DAO is essentially an online community that uses Web3 tools to organize and spread group control among its members. DAOs often use a cryptocurrency or token to incentivize their members and govern decision-making.

The group quickly raised $750,000 in ETH, far more than the book’s estimated value of $25,000 to $35,000, to bid at Christie's. By the time the auction neared its end, the “Dune Bible” had an asking price of $3 million.

Unfortunately for Spice DAO, the auctioneer was not accepting offers in crypto.

To keep from losing the book, Soby put up about $3,010,750, not including fees, to win the auction.

"No one wants to fail, no one wants to raise all this money and not win, so I did it," he told Decrypt at the time, saying that he knew the community would support him.

After months of debate, proposals, and unrealized goals, including a planned animated series, distributing copies of the book to its members, and public displays, Spice DAO is shutting down.

Earlier this month, Spice DAO core member, Kortelin, posted to the DAO's forum that the DAO will be implementing a three-stage redemption phase for the DAO and its treasury:

  • Stage I: In lieu of a free NFT airdrop, compile a whitelist of DAO members who want to redeem their $SPICE for $ETH that they can use to purchase FMP NFTs in advance of the public sale (currently scheduled for Aug. 15).
  • Stage II: Sell out the FMP NFT collection in four weeks or less. This should top off the Spice DAO Treasury with maximum $ETH. Take a snapshot of all $SPICE holders in advance of the public sale to combat potential arbitrage.
  • Stage III: To be determined. The Core Team is contemplating a sale of the “Dune Bible” in Q4 2023 to capitalize on the $250M Hollywood marketing campaign for Dune: Part II, which opens in theaters on November 17.

"We are currently executing Redemption Phase One," Kortelin posted on the DAO’s Discord server on Tuesday. Holders of $SPICE were able to burn their tokens to claim ETH from the DAO Treasury at a rate of 1M $SPICE = 0.3 ETH.

The next day, Soby says, Kortelin resigned from the DAO.

"So it's been an interesting journey," Soby wrote on the Spice DAO Discord server, adding that core member Kortelin resigned after "being at odds."

"Although I helped crowdraise for Spice DAO, it was never my intention to be an operator,” Soby wrote. “I opened many doors for the core team over the months and due to differences nothing really got done."

Soby said that while the DAO achieved most of its goals, like a scheduled NFT drop with Frank Miller, things did not align well for token holders and went on to say that the “Dune Bible” would be transferred to “something that makes sense.”

Soby says the plan now is to return to where things started, auctioning the “Dune Bible” with proceeds going to the DAO's treasury and then claimable by members along with the $SPICE tokens held by the multisig, which will be redeemable in ETH.

"After that the DAO will cease to exist," he wrote.

The cracks in Spice DAO and Soby's plan began to show almost immediately after the auction.

The issue included who owned the "Dune Bible," Spice DAO or Soby, who won the auction using his own money. How would the book be transferred from Soby to the DAO, where would the DAO store it, and does owning that book give the buyer the right to use it in commercial ventures?

The DAO quickly found out it did not and plans to produce Dune-related media dried up almost as fast. Citing copyright concerns, Dune DAO rebranded as Spice DAO earlier this year.

Fast forward to today’s harsh crypto winter, and the group is looking to auction the "Dune Bible," reimburse token holders and cease operations.

"It's embarrassing how things worked out," Soby said.

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