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Sotheby’s Faces BAYC Lawsuit Over Alleged NFT Legitimacy

In an unfolding legal saga, Sotheby’s is embroiled in a class action lawsuit and has caused huge debate in the global digital art community. Investors in the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection claim that the creators of the collection (Yuga Labs) and the auction house (Sotheby’s) gave them false information regarding their investments.

Including Sotheby’s In The Lawsuit

Initially, the investors’ lawsuit against Yuga Labs included various high-profile celebrities, but the lawsuit has expanded to include Sotheby’s. The plaintiffs assert that the auction house lent the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection unwarranted legitimacy.

The primary reason for the lawsuit was a high-profile auction Sotheby’s hosted in September 2021. This auction, which featured a collection of 101 BAYC NFTs, drew massive attention after resulting in over $24.3 million, exceeding initial estimates of $12-18 million.


While the auction was celebrated as a significant achievement within the NFT community, the lawsuit contends that Yuga Labs made false claims about the collection to promote it. The lawsuit further alleged that Sotheby’s collaborated with Yuga Labs to make false claims and promotions.

One of the claims in the lawsuit was that Max Moore, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art auctions, inaccurately portrayed the buyer of the NFT collection as a ‘traditional’ collector. The plaintiffs further argued that it was the defunct crypto exchange FTX that acquired the collection that referenced this misrepresentation.

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This legal development takes place against the backdrop of declining interest in the NFT market. After reaching its highest levels in 2022, NFT trading volumes have dropped by nearly 40% in the first two quarters of this year.

Among the collections significantly affected by this downturn is the Bored Ape Yacht Club, whose floor prices have plummeted from their previous peaks.

Celebrities And BAYC

As expected, some celebrities initially associated with the Bored Ape Yacht Club have distanced themselves from the project since the lawsuit’s commencement. Lawyers acting on behalf of Jimmy Fallon, the renowned talk show host, have firmly stated that Fallon’s involvement with the BAYC is limited to owning a Bored Ape NFT, which he playfully mentioned in two episodes of the Tonight Show.

Furthermore, the massive celebrity hype surrounding the BAYC has subsided, and the value of NFTs owned by notable figures has decreased significantly. Also, Justin Bieber, who purchased a Bored Ape NFT for $1.3 million in January 2022, would be making a huge loss if he chooses to sell his NFT collection now.

The NFT’s value has plummeted by as much as 95% to a mere fraction of its original worth; this collection is currently valued at approximately $60,000. As the legal proceedings unfold, the relevance of celebrity endorsements, institutional involvement, and the NFT market’s volatility raises questions about the evolving dynamics of digital asset investments.

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Hence, analysts predict that a court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would raise doubts about the integrity of Sotheby’s operations, even though it is one of the oldest and largest digital art auction houses globally. They also opine that the outcome of this lawsuit could shape the future landscape of NFT transactions and the responsibilities of those participating in this ever-evolving marketplace.

DappRadar data shows that the number of NFT sales in July 2023 was 23% less than in June 2023.

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Bradley Nelson

Bradley Nelson is a US based cryptocurrency news writer for Tokenhell, he helps readers stay up to date with the latest trends and news from the blockchain and crypto world. Bradley has been a crypto enthusiast since 2018.

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