2021 has been a profitable year for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as the market has grown exponentially, allowing anything to be tokenized on the blockchain.
The decentralized nature of the industry also allows anyone to create, mint, and issue their NFTs from any part of the world, including those in prison.
Ross Ulbricht Launches NFT
Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the infamous and defunct dark web marketplace Silk Road, recently announced that he is auctioning his line of NFTs.
The Ethereum-based digital collection, dubbed the Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection, details various points of Ulbricht’s life, from his childhood to his nine years in prison.
The NFT drop is a unique collection of writings and handmade art, including comic books, artworks depicting scenes from his court trial, an original animation made by the digital artist, Levitate, with a voiceover by Ulbricht himself, which his supporters had minted into NFTs.
Funds generated from the auction, which is scheduled to end on Dec. 8, will be used to support prisoners and their families via the charitable fund Art4Giving.
Additionally, the proceeds will fund a trust dedicated to efforts geared toward freeing Ross Ulbricht from life in prison.
Ulbricht added, “My own future may look bleak, but I can still do a little something to heal the damage I see all around me. Prison shatters families. It shatters communities. And the kids are the ones who suffer…
With this NFT, I see a chance to make a difference where it really counts: in the lives of kids who did not ask for any of this. There is a lot we can do with the proceeds of this auction, but one idea I am committed to is to help kids travel to visit their moms and dads in prison.”
Crypto Twitter Reacts
The announcement of Ulbricht’s NFT collection was met with mixed reactions across Crypto Twitter. While his supporters accepted it wholeheartedly, other industry participants did not.
Ulbricht has been a controversial figure within the crypto space ever since his incarceration about eight years ago.
He launched Silk Road in 2011, a dark web marketplace that was used for trading all sorts of illegal items, including drugs, weapons, and more, using bitcoin and other digital assets. In 2013, however, Ulbricht was arrested, and Silk Road was subsequently shut down. He was later convicted of conspiracy to launder money, computer hacking, narcotics trafficking, and running a criminal enterprise. Although he received two life sentences plus 40 years and was denied a presidential pardon earlier this year, his supporters have continued to rally for his release.
While some Bitcoin enthusiasts are completely against the idea of a criminal selling NFTs, the use of ETH to mint the tokens, among other things, Ulbricht has received immense support too.
Crypto Cobain, the host of UpOnly, slammed Bitcoin maximalists for their unwelcoming response to Ulbricht’s NFT drop, noting that he had pioneered the early adoption of Bitcoin.