Charlie Lee Isn’t a Fan of NFTs   

Full Stack

NFTs Easily Forged?     

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are everywhere, invading all aspects of popular culture. The latest round of NFT revelations include a Banksy piece being burned and an entire album issued by rock band Kings of Leon.   

Sales numbers continue to impress as collectors gobble up pieces considered scarce by virtue of a NFT’s nature. There’s something for sure going on, but is it little more than a cash grab with underlying structural problems being ignored? 

The creator of Litecoin (LTC), Charlie Lee, recently came out as an NFT skeptic. Lee defied common NFT wisdom, insisting digital collectibles act contrary to their physical counterparts in that they “can be easily, cheaply, and perfectly duplicated,” going so far as to call reproductions “indistinguishable” from originals. 

That’s the rub regarding NFTs, according to Lee. In the physical world we understand this flaw well. Lee uses an example of reprinting the Mona Lisa in the vein of an NFT. Every issuance “reduces the value of the original Mona Lisa because no one can prove that it’s the original.”

NFT proponents counter with certificates of authenticity. Even if one could be determined legitimate, Lee continued:

“Is the full value of the Mona Lisa transferred to this certificate? I argue definitely not. If everyone can have an exact duplicate of the Mona Lisa hanging on their walls, most wouldn't care much to own the certificate of authenticity.”

Lee uses iterations of NFTs which presently rely upon certificates of authenticity, some of which point to a distinct url. Immediately, the holder appears to have something like a string of numbers and letters holding all the value, while the digital asset itself is something anyone else can enjoy simultaneously, seemingly robbing NFTs of their supposed value. 

And what happens when/if the url no longer is operable?

He contrasts this fragility with traditional baseball card collecting.

“The manufacturer or even the league can cease to exist, but the physical card can still retain value. For example, the brand Fleer no longer exists, but the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card is still worth $500k+ today.”

At least one commenter shot back in defense of NFTs how “cardboard encased in plastic is worth 500k even though the parent company is no longer around but digital tokens who's records will be forever kept on blockchain even if the parent company fails is somehow worth nothing? Got it.”

Another wag teased Lee, “Imagine if we have technology that can perfectly clone a physical card to the last detail where it's indistinguishable to the original even by experts.”

Markets will ultimately solve this debate.

Quick Bytes

Arthur Hayes Waxes Cryptically 

Still technically wanted by US law enforcement, leading cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes continued to resurface in recent weeks online in the form of blog posts. They might be preludes to a pending agreement, according to court transcripts. Assistant US Attorney Jessica Greenwood revealed in her statement to a presiding judge on the matter, “We have discussed with counsel how to arrange for a voluntary surrender, and [Hayes] has proposed appearing within the United States in Hawaii and having his initial appearance there and then. The idea would be that he would appear initially in Hawaii, then appear before your Honor remotely, and then he would continue to reside abroad with travel to the United States for appearances as needed and, of course, if there is a trial, that he would appear within the United States for that trial in New York.”

Literary License

In two recent clips from the popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience (here and here), Rogan hosted filmmaker Tiller Russell to discuss his latest movie, Silk Road, released on February 19, 2021. It fictionalized the plight and saga of the notorious website and its co-founder, Ross Ulbricht. Critics are split on the film thus far, but Rogan praised it during his interview with Russell. While some of the movie’s dialogue and events are taken from public sources and transcripts, as well as consultation with a reported girlfriend of Ulbricht, the screenplay is largely based on the 2014 Rolling Stone profile, Dead End on Silk Road: Internet Crime Kingpin Ross Ulbricht’s Big Fall by David Kushner. It’s important to note Russell’s film is not a documentary. That fact is referred to many times in his discussion with Rogan, and it’s clear Russell has some sympathy for Ulbricht though the film apparently suggests Ulbricht ordered a Silk Road colleague murdered (a smear vehemently denied by Ulbricht, and something he was never actually charged with) in what turned out to be an elaborate government sting. Russell did, however, focus parts of the film’s story arc on the corrupt law enforcement investigators who eventually went to prison themselves for crimes committed during their operations against Ulbricht. 

(I wish people would learn more about what actually happened in the Silk Road hearings rather than basing their understanding on propaganda surround this travesty of justice. Unfortunately I presume many will instead take their facts from this fictionalized version. I am anxious about seeing it, considering the vast swaths of media smearing to date, and will post my own review of the film soon. - Naomi)

BitPay Teams With Mark Cuban to Offer Payment in Dogecoin

BitPay, provider of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency payment services, will offer users the ability to use meme coin Dogecoin in conjunction with National Basketball Association team the Dallas Mavericks. “An early adopter of cryptocurrency,” the presser reads, “the Dallas Mavericks will be the first to accept Dogecoin. Mavs Fans for Life (MFFLs) can now use Dogecoin to buy tickets and merchandise online, making Mavs merchandise more accessible to MFFLs everywhere. The Dallas Mavericks have been accepting Bitcoin as a method of payment for game tickets and merchandise for almost two years.”

Binance Will Not IPO

One of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, apparently will not seek going public through an initial public offering (IPO). CEO and co-founder Changpeng Zhao confirmed his feelings in a recent interview with financial outlet Bloomberg, insisting, “Bloomberg also never went for IPO. Multiple paths to growth.” IPOs, of course, are a hot topic for crypto exchanges, especially on the heels of the Coinbase SEC filing.  

Larimer Looks to Clarion

Serial entrepreneur Dan Larimer, more recently of EOS fame, announced a new project, Clarion. He described it as “a logically decentralized communication platform to replace centralized services (email, twitter, Facebook, YouTube, medium).” Admitting he’s “never used GitHub discussion before, so I hope it is effective for community collaboration until we can get our own independent forum that doesn't depend upon Microsoft/Reddit/Twitter/etc infrastructure.” Some commenters wondered aloud about Larimer’s ability to stay with a project, see it through, and if he’d use money raised from projects like EOS to fund this latest venture. Others see it as the next big thing for people to keep their eye on from this prolific entrepreneur.

By C. Edward Kelso, NBTV contributor.

Find more of Kelso’s work here: @coinfugazi /