Last Monday, the Spanish artist Aldo Comas, better known as “CryptofuxkBoy” on OpenSea, sat down for some eggs with his wife, read the paper and started his car. He returned five days later with almost 70 refugees from the war in Ukraine.
“All the people we brought back to Spain now have families, they now have papers and some are working. It’s changed their life,” he says in an interview from his studio in northern Spain.
What had started as a small fundraiser on Facebook quickly spiraled into a 20-vehicle convoy, which drove from the village of Capmany in the north of Spain to Red Cross refugee camps in Poland, loaded with around $40,000 worth of materials.
Aside from donations from friends and family, Comas’s trip was funded, in part, by an ETH from The Infinite Machine Movie & Collection, the NFT project that’s helping fund the movie based on the book by the same name authored by The Defiant founder Camila Russo. Comas was among the 50 artists who’d contributed NFT art to the project.
Comas’s convoy is the latest example of how crypto is helping activists and volunteers in the war effort. While sanctions prevent the free flow of money, crypto can reach anyone, anywhere anytime – and can draw on a wide pool of recently-minted investors.
After Ukraine has opened the floodgates to crypto last month, the country raised more than $60 million in cryptocurrencies. Crypto exchanges like Binance and FTX helped the cause, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin donated $5 million, and Ukraine DAO raised $6.6 million for a single NFT of the Ukrainian flag.
Comas has been involved in crypto for the past eight years. Well – he’d forgotten about seven or eight ETH he’d bought years ago, and quickly rejoined the fray as an NFT artist last year. Aside from The Infinite Machine NFTs, collections so far include a postmodern reimagining of Spanish ham (no buyers yet).
He says the hardest moment of the trip was witnessing refugees understanding what they had lost, clutching belongings from their old lives – often no more than a plastic bag filled with clothes. “They were accepting [their new life] at the same time. And they were crying and crying in the car,” he says. “Those were the hardest times.”
“We’ve heard pretty tough stories,” he says. Comas re-tells the story of an artist in the group who says a missile destroyed her apartment block in Bucha, crushing her neighbors as it crumbled in its foundations. Had another taken the same train a day later, she’d likely have been caught by a Russian bomb, says Comas. One was the only survivor in a car shot apart by Russian soldiers.
One of the refugees, Lena Cupina, speaks to us through a translator. “Since I got into his car, I realized I was finally safe, and that this was probably the start of something new,” she says.
“If your country is f#@ked, you have to get the [email protected]#k away from that,” she says. “I understand that not everyone can do that. Psychologically, it’s very hard for the people there – even though their houses have been destroyed – to accept the fact that they have lost, and that they’re in the worst situation.”
She plans to stay with Comas for a couple of months, working as an artist to help fund friends and family stuck in Ukraine.
He wants to get her into NFTs.