A scammer has hacked the website of street artist Banksy to sell a fake non-fungible token (NFT) for around $467,000.
On Tuesday night, an anonymous Discord user alerted NFT collector Pranksy to an auction of what appeared to be Banksy’s first ever NFT sale.
The NFT, titled ‘Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster’, is a picture of a CryptoPunk smoking a cigarette in front of an industrial site and appears to be a commentary on the heavy use of fossil fuels for proof-of-work cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin.
Everything about the NFT suggested it was a real Banksy, from the ham-fisted social commentary to the fact it was linked on the artist’s official website.
Pranksy checked and double-checked the links before bidding on the image through NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Pranksy’s bid of 100 Ethereum (ETH) – currently worth around $467,000 – was immediately accepted.
“So, my bid of 100 ETH was accepted for the potential Banksy first NFT on OpenSea,” he said on Twitter.
“The link was removed from his website so it could have been a very elaborate hoax. My guess is that is what it will be, only time will tell!”
So my bid of 100 ETH was accepted for the potential #Banksy first #NFT on @opensea.— Pranksy 📦 (@pranksy) August 31, 2021
The link was removed from his website so it could have been a very elaborate hoax, my guess is that is what it will be, only time will tell!https://t.co/EEmElqIvBZ pic.twitter.com/Pbs5zrht05
Quietly minting and launching an NFT sale does fit Banksy’s profile as the artist, whose real identity is unknown, is renowned for his practice of leaving valuable street art sitting around for people to discover.
Banksy is also an artworld prankster, famously causing one of his paintings to shred itself immediately after it sold for $1.86 million.
But within a few hours, the BBC confirmed with the artist’s representatives that ‘Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster’ was not a genuine Banksy NFT, that the artist’s website had likely been hacked, and that Pranksy had been scammed.
“Hopefully I can get in touch with the team who represents [Banksy], if not it was fun entertainment for us all today,” Pranksy said.
“Onwards and upwards!”
Shortly after the scammer’s deception was revealed, they mysteriously sent Pranksy back the Ethereum, causing speculation that the scammer was a white-hat hacker looking to make a statement about Banksy’s website security and NFTs, or that they were concerned about the sudden attention.
Since rising to prominence earlier this year, NFTs have become a major speculative asset for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and advocates for a blockchain-based Web 3.0.
The digital assets are continuing to gain mainstream attention with payments company Visa announcing last week it had bought a CryptoPunk NFT for 49.5 ETH (around $231,000).
Online marketplace eBay also began allowing merchants to sell NFTs on its platform earlier this year.