Someone Right-Clicked Every NFT In The Heist Of The Century

Someone Right-Clicked Every NFT In The Heist Of The Century

Hours ago, a website appeared online with the express purpose of hosting a nearly 20TB torrent (that’s terabytes, folks, the big boys of digital data measurement) containing every NFT available through the Ethereum and Solana blockchains. It is the NFT heist of the century.

This article first appeared on Kotaku Australia on November 19, 2021. It has been retimed as a weekend read.

The NFT Bay, whose name and overall design riff on iconic torrent database The Pirate Bay, is the work of one Geoffrey Huntley, an Australian software and dev ops engineer. In a frequently asked questions document written up for annoying reporters like me, Huntley describes The NFT Bay as an “educational art project” designed to teach the public about what NFTs are and aren’t, in the hopes that fewer folks get swindled by the technology’s innumerable grifters.

Image: Geoffrey Huntley
Image: Geoffrey Huntley

“Fundamentally, I hope people learn to understand what people are buying when purchasing NFT art right now is nothing more than directions on how to access or download an image,” Huntley explained. “The image is not stored on the blockchain and the majority of images I’ve seen are hosted on web 2.0 storage, which is likely to end up as 404, meaning the NFT has even less value.”

Huntley’s main inspiration for The NFT Bay was Pauline Pantsdown, the drag persona of Australian satirist Simon Hunt, who in the past parodied controversial politician Pauline Hanson due to Hanson’s right-wing policies.

“Sometimes the wrong things get airtime and the only way to cut right through to the core is with art,” Huntley added on Twitter alongside a link to a short Pauline Pantsdown documentary.

NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) have been the talk of the town over the last year, rapidly accruing supporters even as the technology’s reputation tanked. And while most of the backlash is confined to social media jokes about “stealing” NFTs by way of right-clicking and saving the (usually terrible) artwork associated with the blockchain-minted (and thus incredibly harmful to the environment) tokens, major figures in the gaming industry have also taken notice.

Last month, Steam banned games that had anything to do with NFTs or cryptocurrency, prompting 26 developers to send Valve what my colleague Luke Plunkett aptly described as “a very sad letter” whining about the company’s decision. Xbox boss Phil Spencer more recently called NFTs “exploitative” during an interview with Axios. But sadly, for every Valve, Xbox, and independent dev turning down NFTs, there’s also an Ubisoft, Sega, and Square Enix happily getting in on the grift. One wonders how long it will take for an NFT heist to strike those publishers too.

“[NFTs] are only valuable as tools for money laundering, tax evasion, and greater fool investment fraud,” wrote computer scientist Antsstyle in a scathing criticism of the technology, the long version of which is perhaps the most comprehensive breakdown of the ills posed by NFTs, cryptocurrency, and the blockchain on which they operate. “There is zero actual value to NFTs. Their sole purpose is to create artificial scarcity of an artwork to supposedly increase its value.”


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