At the beginning of this year, many, including us, asked the question: are celebrities getting paid to shill NFTs? Well, it turns out the answer might be yes.
Suspicions were initially raised in January during a cursed segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In an exchange that proved so unbearably forced even by the standards of US late-night TV, Fallon and his guest Paris Hilton began ever so casually discussing their recent NFT investments. The pair then both went on to showcase their own hideous NFTs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection, for which they paid in excess of six figures.
A class action lawsuit filed on December 8 2022 in California, has accused Fallon, Hilton and a coterie of other A-listers of involvement in a scheme that privately compensates them for flogging Bored Apes, an operation more commonly known as fraud. Yuga Labs, the company that created the BAYC collection, are also named in the lawsuit, as are Justin Bieber, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Serena Williams, Post Malone, Future, DJ Khaled, The Weeknd, Diplo, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart and The Chainsmokers.
So, how did all these celebrities get involved in the first place? Well, it seems they may have been recruited by Hollywood talent manager Guy Oseary. Famous for his top-tier list of clientele including U2 and Madonna, the lawsuit claims Oseary enlisted his celebrity friends to take part in shilling the NFTs and would then discreetly pay them through the crypto payment service Moonpay, of which his company is an investor.
Back in October 2021, it was announced that Yuga Labs, the creators of BAYC, had been signed to Guy Oseary’s management company, further muddying the relationship between the two entities. And to complicate matters even further, some of the celebs, including Hilton, had also invested tens of millions of dollars into Moonpay. (Dazed)