Last week, an NFT artwork created by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden sold for a whopping $5.4 million (~2,224 ETH at the time).
“Stay Free” depicts Snowden with his hand on his chin, reminiscent of Rodin’s “The Thinker” statue. The unique signed work also combines the entirety of a US appeals court decision stating the Patriot Act didn’t permit the National Security Agency’s mass collection and surveillance of Americans’ phone records.
Although the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won the case, Snowden is still exiled from his home country for his role in bringing the NSA’s dodgy surveillance programme into the public eye.
A reminder that the symbolism of @Snowden minting his first NFT goes far beyond the price tag.
— kayvon🪐 (@saturnial) April 16, 2021
So who bought the artwork? Last month, a group of anonymous buyers formed a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) known as PleasrDAO. They’ve been using smart contracts to pool money together, effectively building a decentralised digital art empire.
According to group member and digital artist pplpleaser, the group has a strong philosophy around the intention of its purchases. She explained, “There are many NFT sellers who are just in for the capital; they just want to cash in on the NFT craze and sell back into fiat. That's not constructive for cryptocurrency as a whole.”
Another member remarked that “Snowden represents the cypherpunk ethos” and “transparency for all.”
FIVE POINT FIVE MILLION from @PleasrDAO. It feels like the whole staff of @FreedomOfPress is watching live, and we've never seen anything like this. This is more than a spectacle -- this is drama. All eyes turn to the dark horse. https://t.co/GOcrOiraXS
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 16, 2021
According to Snowden, the proceeds from the sale will go to Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit that develops open-source communication and encryption tools, and tracks press freedom. We love to see it!