Convicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht stirs up controversy with NFT Auction announcement

  • Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the now-defunct Silk Road dark web marketplace, has announced the sale of his hand-drawn artwork as an NFTs.
  • The news has sparked off a debate on his use of NFTs, and his disputable contribution to Bitcoin’s massive adoption.

Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the now-defunct Darknet marketplace Silk Road, has kicked up a fuss after announcing an auction for his NFTs.

Dubbed “the Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection,” the sale was announced on his supporter-operated Twitter account on Dec. 1. The set will be available on the Superare NFT marketplace between Dec. 2-8. It consists of 11 pieces of Ulbricht’s handmade art, depicting different stages of his life from childhood until imprisonment. Early works portray comic book characters and animals. The later works depict scenes of his court trial and personal emotions since being incarcerated.

Part of the proceeds of the auction will fund a trust supporting Ulbricht’s efforts to get free. The rest will be used to launch Art4Giving, a donor-advised charitable fund “dedicated to relieving the suffering of the incarcerated and their families.”

Ross Ulbricht and the crypto industry

In Oct. 2015, Ulbricht was sentenced to two life terms and 40 years in federal prison for creating and developing the infamous Silk Road marketplace. Founded in 2011, the free market allowed anonymous purchases of almost anything in Bitcoin (BTC), including weapons and illicit drugs. In 2013, Ulbricht was busted by authorities and the website was consecutively shut down. In its two years of operations, Silk Road facilitated a total of $1.2 billion in transactions.

Read More: Ross Ulbricht discusses Silk Road for the first time since arrest, appeals to community

Ulbricht’s supporters believe his sentencing was too harsh for a non-violent crime, and have been campaigning for his release for years. His fans even rallied for a presidential pardon from former POTUS Donald Trump.

Now, his latest endeavor has sparked a flurry of conflicting reactions on social media. Some people are against his latest move – especially NFT critics, but the majority are in full support of it.

One skeptic, the founder of @francispouliot said he supports Ulbricht. However, “the fact that the insane and immoral NFT Ponzi has now become fully normalized is deeply troubling.” Similar commentaries followed, with @vladenhawk tweeting,

I can tolerate the creation of international drug and weapons markets. But NFTS is where I draw the line.

Others said the path could potentially dent his fanbase.

One cheerleader, Twitter user Crypto Cobain and the high-profile host of UpOnly TV, said that even though a couple of Bitcoin maximalists disapprove of Ulbricht minting NFTs, the convict was instrumental in promoting early Bitcoin adoption.

This man is in jail for life and did more for Bitcoin than all of the laser eye cult combined.

The use of Bitcoin on the Darknet gave the digital currency early traction and propelled it onto mainstream media. This kind of use, however, painted it as a crime facilitator.

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