A controversy surrounded the famous collection of NFT Bored Ape Yatch Club (BAYC) in the last week. According to the “theory” that circulated on the Internet, the creators of the collection were secret defenders of Nazi ideology, and the BAYC logo contained evidence of this.
At first, a YouTuber named Philion posted an hour-long video containing an alleged 6-month investigation. In the video, the person presents what would be evidence of a link between BAYC’s corporate image and Nazi symbolism.
The video generated such a repercussion that it made Wylie Aronow, co-founder of Yuga Labs, speak out. Known on the networks as Gordon Goner, the executive classified the speculation as “incredibly unbalanced”.
“We do not respond in more detail to these claims because, frankly, they are completely absurd. That said, we woke up this morning to a podcaster we respect talking about this conspiracy theory and it was pretty surreal.”
The video has nearly 900,000 views and caused quite a bit of debate among those who watched it. Because of the backlash, Goner wrote a long text which clarifies the main points.
Diversity as a BAYC brand
Goner began the text by explaining the origin of the collection’s logo, which has a monkey skull next to the name.
As explained by the youtuber, this logo would refer to the Waffen SS, the main extermination force for Jews in Nazi Germany. The SS division logo is also formed by a skull and, in fact, bears similarities to BAYC.
Alleged similarity between BAYC and Waffen SS logo. Source: Philion/YouTube.
Goner, however, discarded this explanation and provided another. “We used a monkey skull to help convey how bored these monkeys are – they are ‘bored to death’,” he said.
The Yuga Labs co-founder explained that his partners are a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani and Cuban friends. Goner also made it clear that his wife is of Mexican descent and therefore Philion’s claims are nonsense.
Conspiracy of competitors?
Goner said all of these accusations are a “lie” promoted by Ryder Ripps, an alleged anti-BAYC activist. On his twitter in fact shared a photo that associates the BAYC logo with the SS.
Ripps is accused of creating a copy of BAYC under another name and selling nearly $3.5 million on OpenSea. However, the platform took the collection offline on charges of intellectual property infringement.
Later, BAYC advocates created a collection of NFTs called Fuck Ryder Ripps, which has 4,000 copies. The collection leads to a website that accuses the artist of being a fraud and of lying to defame BAYC and its creators.
Ripps currently has 29,000 followers on Twitter and defines himself as an artist, satirist and fanatic. A topic with his accusations about Goner was pinned to his account.
Creator explains company name
Goner also talked about his company name Yuga Labs, associated with the term Kali Yuga. Originally derived from Hindu and representing “new age”, the term is associated with right-wing and supremacist groups abroad.
Again, Goner provides a more prosaic origin. According to the executive, Yuga is the name of a villain in the video game Zelda who can turn himself and his friends into 2D art.
We’re nerds, and Yuga is the name of a villain in Zelda who has the ability to turn himself and others into 2D art. It makes perfect sense for an NFT company. “Yuga” also means “age” in Sanskrit, and Gordon spent a decade practicing Hinduism. “Kali Yuga” is the current era in which we are according to Hinduism. As such, the suggestion that Kali Yuga has anything to do with white supremacy is ridiculous.
Finally, Goner reinforces that the company has never taken the BAYC logo so seriously, which is why the look itself is “disorganized”, symbolizing the irreverence and absurdity of the collection.
The executive shares an email he sent to the designer who created the logo, showing the inspirations. According to the message, the logo appears to have been inspired by Goner’s taste for punk, skateboarding, and even Nike sneakers. But nothing related to the regime created by Adolf Hitler.