Well-known NFT collector Pranksy has been the victim of an elaborate hoax that cost him more than $300,000.
Twitter was ablaze with rumors of an official Banksy NFT being posted for sale on OpenSea on Tuesday. The listing caught the eye of famous British NFT collector and Co-Founder of NFTBoxes, Pranksy.
Pranksy currently owns more than 39,000 NFTs on OpenSea. The listing gained further traction when it was discovered that a subpage on Banksy’s official website appeared with NFT information on it earlier in the day. The page featured a URL that led back to the OpenSea auction listing. The page on Banksy’s website has since disappeared.
The NFT in question is titled “Great Redistribution of the Climate Change Disaster” and aligns with Banksy’s focus on climate change and other environmental issues.
The work features an edited version of CryptoPunk #7804 that has him standing in the foreground of a pixelated factory. The original Punk #7804 sold for more than $7 million. Banksy is one of the more elusive figures in pop culture, and to this day, nobody is certain of his or her true identity.
While all of the signs pointed toward this being a genuine Banksy artwork, it was not to be. As it turns out, the NFT that was minted early Tuesday morning is, in fact, a fake.
Banksy alerted to fake NFT
Despite being listed as an auction, the sale was ended after one user offered 90% more than rival bidders. That man was Pranksy.
It was not until after the sale was finalized that the world realized what had happened. Banksy’s website had been hacked, and the page linking to the OpenSea listing was added to legitimize the fake art.
Banksy said he was first made aware of the fake via a Discord community of which he is a member. After Pranksy’s huge bid, the scammer decided to end the auction immediately and transfer all the funds to themselves.
In a tweet not long after the sale, Pranksy notes that the webpage had disappeared, and he was becoming suspicious.
“So my bid of 100 ETH was accepted for the potential #Banksy first #NFT on @opensea. 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!”
As it turns out, he was exactly right, and this was part of a very elaborate hoax. In a separate tweet, Pranksy stated that a BBC reporter had contacted him to break the news on the fake NFT art.
“Hopefully, I can get in touch with the team who represents him. If not, it was fun entertainment for us all today,” the collector added.
Pranksy now believes that the person who gave him the heads-up on the auction was likely the scammer themselves. He says he has tried to contact them but has not managed to get through.