Silk Road Founder Drops NFT, Causing a Stir Among Bitcoiners

December 03, 2021, 10:30 AM AEST - 1 month ago

Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted six years ago on conspiracy charges of money laundering, computer hacking, fraud and drug trafficking, is auctioning his own non-fungible token (NFT) for charity.

In May 2015, Ulbricht was handed two life sentences plus 40 years without the possibility of parole. After two unsuccessful appeals in 2017 and 2018, he remains in a US Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona.

“Decades of incarceration stretch out in front of me,” Ulbricht writes in his prison blog, titled My NFT:

As I face that future – my eventual old age and death in this cage – I find myself looking for meaning and purpose. Why am I here? What good can I do with the time I have left and from where I am?

Ross Ulbricht, My NFT

Aged 29 when he was arrested and with time on his hands, Ulbricht reconnected with his art, producing illustrations that told the story of what he was going through. “Then someone said, ‘You should sell your art as an NFT. The community will love it’.”

Life in a Box, graphite pencil drawing, one of 10 artworks in the Genesis Collection NFT. It depicts Ulbricht’s shared cell in New York City, before he was moved to the Federal Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, where he remains. Ulbricht was 32 at the time he completed this drawing.

Hence the Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection NFT, an assembly of writings and 10 artworks with an original animation by Seattle-based audiovisual artist Levitate. The singular NFT is being auctioned on the SuperRare platform, with bids closing December 8.

Proceeds Will Support Prisoners and Families and Fund Further Legal Efforts

As well as supporting other prisoners and their families, proceeds from the NFT sale will fund a trust dedicated to efforts to free Ulbricht from a life in prison. These include new legal proceedings.

At the time of Ulbricht’s arrest in 2013, Bitcoin was the only means of exchange on the Silk Road platform. While some devotees of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies recognise Ulbricht’s vision as an original catalyst for blockchain adoption, just as many have greeted news of his NFT offering with derision:

Among Ulbricht’s supporters, however, @CryptoCobain possibly pleaded his case most articulately:

Just over a year ago, Crypto News Australia reported on a police seizure of nearly US$1 billion in bitcoin from Silk Road‘s hoard.

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