The Art Wars Collection, a series of NFTs depicting painted Stormtrooper helmets from the Star Wars franchise, has come under fire for launching without the consent of the artists who created the original works.
The series comprises 1,138 images chosen by curator Ben Moore and was launched on Nov. 6 in partnership with NFT minting platform Dropspace. The drop reportedly sold out within five seconds at 0.6 Ether each, garnering 682.8 ETH (worth $3.03M at the time) for the Moore and Dropspace.
However, the legal team representing around 30 artists whose work was included in the NFT drop, alleges that roughly 100 of the tokens are unauthorized reproductions that were sold without the artists’ consent.
Since 2013, Moore has held Art Wars as an inaugural event that exhibits Stormtrooper helmets featuring paintings from renowned artists.
After connecting with other artists who felt their work was being sold without permission, the group’s ranks grew to more than two dozen working together to take action against Moore. Their legal team, which was interviewed by The Defiant, claims Moore does not have IP rights to the work.
Moore did not immediately respond to questions sent by The Defiant to his email accounts.
While OpeaSea and Rarible have since removed listings for Art Wars NFTs, the series drove nearly 1,000 ETH worth of secondary trade, with The Financial Times estimating that 1,600 Ether ($6.58M at current prices) had interacted with the contract after OpenSea’s listings were taken down on Nov. 22.
The artists’ legal team argues Moore had the right to photograph the work but not to utilize the photographs for any commercial use.
Instead of suing immediately, the artists are hoping to “kill” the unauthorized project by launching an authorized nonfungible token series in partnership with NFT platform DoinGud.
Artists plan to reward community members who had lost their money from the fraudulent initial drop by airdropping them NFTs from the new project.
Details relating to the upcoming authorized drop are also being discussed, with artists able to select any image for their contribution to the collection.
Mel Vera of DoinGud emphasized the authorized drop provides the opportunity for the artists to “have a positive experience” with web 3.0 despite the incident with Moore, rather than having them left with a “sour taste to the [crypto] community.”
“The point is not to have anyone going away from this with a really negative experience,” Vera added.