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Yuga Labs CEO Halts CryptoPunks Changes Amid Community Backlash

2 mins
Updated by Daria Krasnova
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In Brief

  • Yuga Labs aims to educate traditional art collectors on Web3, NFTs, and digital ownership.
  • The new collection features 195 unique 3D avatars inspired by CryptoPunks and Abney's work.
  • Project faced backlash for its art style and focus on race and gender, sparking controversy.
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Yuga Labs CEO Greg Solano announced the company will cease changes to the CryptoPunks project following intense community backlash.

On May 20, the official CryptoPunks account revealed Super Punk World, a new NFT collection featuring 500 hybridized 3D sculptures created by New York-based painter Nina Abney.

Community Reaction and Backlash

The collection featured hand-picked avatars inspired by CryptoPunks traits and Abney’s previous work, curated to create 195 unique 3D attributes. These avatars reflected Abney’s aesthetic while honoring CryptoPunks’ irreverent spirit. By collaborating with artist, Yuga Labs aimed to introduce traditional art collectors to digital ownership through wallets, generative art, Web3, and NFTs.

“We’re trying to bring CryptoPunks to the masses but also help them understand the importance of digital ownership,” Nathalie Stone, General Manager and Brand Lead of CryptoPunks, said.

But things didn’t turn out as planned. The main reason for this was Abney’s focus on price disparities in the NFTs based on gender and color, challenging public perceptions of value and implicit bias.

Read more: What are CryptoPunks? The Complete Guide

Super Punk World NFT
Super Punk World NFTs. Source: Cryptopunks

The crypto community, passionate about CryptoPunks, reacted strongly against the Super Punk World collection. Critics attacked the art style, the attempt to reimagine an iconic project, and its emphasis on race and gender. Some members claimed Yuga Labs had destroyed CryptoPunks, while others threatened to sell their NFTs. A pseudonymous influencer sarcastically asked if the account had been hacked. Another NFT trader urged the community to block Yuga Labs and move on.

“Iconic collections must maintain their integrity to preserve their value. While new derivative collections can bring innovation, there’s always a risk of diluting the value of the originals. However, by adding something new and unique, a derivative collection can establish its own value. The DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) elements in ‘Super Punks World’, for instance, add personal meaning from the artist and offer something distinct. A Punk will always be a Punk, and new collections will always be viewed as derivatives. If you know, you know,” Alex Casassovici, CEO & Founder, told BeInCrypto.

Yuga Labs Halts Super Punk World Project

In response to severe criticism, Solano announced Yuga Labs will no longer alter the CryptoPunks collection. The project will remain decentralized and preserved on the blockchain. He shared a plan for future action in a social media post.

“Our plan is to get Nina’s latest collection into the hands of those who have been supporting her work in this space by making it available only to SuperCoolWorld holders. Current thinking is via randomized airdrop. What about punks? Yuga will no longer touch punks,” Solano stated.

The company plans to support museums and institutions acquiring CryptoPunk NFTs and educating their audiences about the collection. Additionally, Abney’s collection may be airdropped to SuperCoolWorld holders.

Read more: Where To Buy NFTs: The Top 15 NFT Marketplaces

CryptoPunks Trading Volume.
CryptoPunks Trading Volume. Source: Opensea

Despite declining NFT trading volumes, the collection saw a resurgence in March with two record-breaking sales. On March 4, a rare alien CryptoPunk sold for 4,500 Ether (ETH), around $16 million, marking the second-highest sale price for a CryptoPunk. This record was surpassed on March 20, when another CryptoPunk sold for 4,850 ETH, worth about $16.4 million.

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Shota Oba
After interning at a domestic blockchain media company while enrolled at a university in international relations, he worked as an intern trainee at two foreign crypto asset exchanges. Currently, as a journalist, he focuses on the Japanese crypto asset market, both technical and fundamental analysis. He has been trading crypto assets since 2021 and is interested in economic and social affairs.