As the NFT — or nonfungible tokens — marketplace has found its footing among the crypto rich, spurring the digital collectibles to reach sales highs of over $2 billion in the first quarter of 2021, per CNBC, Hollywood has increasingly looked to the emerging sector as a space ripe for representation. Jumping in with both feet is Guy Oseary, founder of the management firm Maverick, whose clients include Madonna, U2, and — newly signed — the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Yuga Labs are the creators of the NFT collection, known colloquially as BAYC, which was first released as a set of 10,000 computer-generated cartoon ape avatars in April. A second set of Mutant Apes followed, selling out in less than an hour and generating more than $90 million in gross receipts. In September, a bundle of 101 Bored Apes went for $24 million at auction. Individual apes are sold on the Ethereum blockchain — the current minimum price for a single ape: 39.69 ETH, or nearly $140,000 — and have drawn such notable collectors as Steph Curry and Marshmello.
Joining the likes of Larva Labs’ four-year-old CryptoPunks, which crossed the billion-dollar all-time sales threshold in August with its own series of 10,000 unique 24×24 pixel collectible characters (rare punks with unique features and accessories can fetch over $1 million), Yuga Labs’ collections saw trading value of $1.5 billion in just five months.
Oseary, whose own ape appears above, credits the dedicated BAYC community for establishing its place in the NFT marketplace. “Many people still have not heard of Yuga, yet they are one of the highest-grossing talents of the year from any artform, including music and film,” says Oseary in announcing the deal, which will see opportunities across media platforms, including film, TV, music, gaming and more. “They are originals, empowering their community of NFT holders by giving them IP rights to their purchased ape, and continually creating ways to add benefits and utility to the purchased artwork. The Apes at Yuga Labs and I have a lot of exciting initiatives for the community and we look forward to sharing them soon.”
“We’re excited to work with Guy Oseary to bring the Bored Ape Yacht Club to a broader sphere,” added Yuga Labs, whose creator-partners’ identity is unknown publicly. “We have many ambitious projects in the works and we’re thankful to have Guy’s expertise as we move the club into this new chapter, for the benefit of the entire BAYC community.”
Oseary is no stranger to all sides of the investing spectrum having been partnered with Ashton Kutcher for nearly two decades in their own VC firm, Sound Ventures. From seed funding to longterm bets, the two are stakeholders in several technology companies including Airbnb, Uber, Spotify, Robinhood and Calm. Via a blockchain fund, Oseary and Kutcher have also invested in Dapper Labs, OpenSea, SupeRare and a number of other NFT-adjacent platforms. Adding to his NFT bonafides, Oseary is also partnered with Beeple (seller of a record-making $64 million NFT to Sotheby’s in March) in NFT platform WENEW.
In April, Oseary announced an investment of $1 million in “NFTs: The Pitch,” a “Shark Tank”-like competition featuring a judging panel that includes such “crypto and NFT heavyweights” as Whale Shark, collector and founder of $WHALE, Metakovan, founder of Metapurse, musician 3LAU, and Linda Xie, co-founder of Scalar Capital.
In music, Oseary’s professional affiliation with Madonna began nearly 30 years ago; he started representing U2 in 2013, succeeding the band’s longtime manager Paul McGuinness. In 2014, Oseary founded Maverick, a collective of managers spanning genres that was home to Wassim “Sal” Slaiby (The Weeknd, Doja Cat), Larry Rudolph (Aerosmith, Kim Petras), Scott Rodger (Paul McCartney, Andrea Bocelli) and Lee Anne Callahan-Longo (Ricky Martin), among others. In May 2020, Oseary announced he was stepping down from the day-to-day running of Maverick and segueing to a consulting role with Live Nation through 2023 while still concentrating on his entrepreneurial and investment interests.
Hollywood’s entry into the world of NFTs has been cautious, with talent agencies CAA, UTA and WME helping launch the NFT sales venture Notables, DC Comics offering NFT enticements for its FanDome program and an NFT track set to make its CES debut in January. Personalities who’ve attached their names to NFT offerings in the last year include Paris Hilton, Jack Dorsey and Lil Nas X.
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