A British crypto art collector who paid almost half a million dollars for a non-existent NFT by graffiti artist Banksy was most likely the victim of a hacker, as it turns out.
A link to an online auction for the purported NFT was posted on a since-deleted page of the artist’s website, banksy.co.uk, a week ago. The only item on the page was a JPEG (below) of Banksy’s impression of a CryptoPunk, the NFT craze that’s already generated more than A$1.5 billion.
The artwork, evidently Banksy’s comment on the substantial carbon footprint NFTs generate, was titled “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster”.
Soon after an image of the artwork was listed yesterday on the OpenSea NFT marketplace, furious bidding broke out for what people assumed was a “genuine” Banksy NFT.
100 ETH For an NFT That Never Was
The winning bid, fully 90 percent higher than any other, was made by an otherwise anonymous crypto art collector who calls himself “Pranksy”. It ran to a gobsmacking 100 ETH, or just over A$465,120, according to blockchain records.
Meanwhile, the page on Banksy’s website was quietly taken down, with no word about how it had appeared on the site in the first place. The buyer told the BBC that he suspected Banksy’s site had been hacked, and that some random scam artist put up the seemingly legitimate webpage.
No Such Thing as a Banksy NFT
Banksy’s PR team also denied that any NFT existed in the artist’s name. But in a happy ending to a bizarre story, the hacker has since refunded the 100 ETH to Pranksy’s bank account, less the transaction fee of around A$10,000.
Pranksy says he’s planning on keeping the artwork, for now at least.
The refund was totally unexpected. I think the press coverage of the hack plus the fact that I had found the hacker and followed him on Twitter may have pushed him into a refund. I feel very lucky when a lot of others in a similar situation with less reach would not have had the same outcome.Pranksy, duped NFT art collector
Just a fortnight ago, Crypto News warned Australians about the prevalence of fake crypto trading websites. Pranksy, for one, seems to have missed the memo.
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