The Jungle Freaks NFT collection’s price plummeted early this week after racist cartoons created by the project’s artist resurfaced online. Jungle Freaks is an NFT collection by acclaimed Hustler magazine cartoonist, George Trosley, and his son George III. The project was endorsed by high-profile celebrities such as ‘Lord of the Rings’ actor Elijah Wood.
However, as the project reached a wider audience, Trosley’s racist cartoons from the ’70s began circulating on social media. This led to many investors dropping the project and its floor price fell around 80%, reported CNET.
Jungle Freaks’ NFT Artist controversy explained
Late last month, Wood, who owned several Jungle Freaks NFTs, had tweeted (now deleted) about his ‘Golden Zombie’ NFT from the project. Soon after, many Twitter users began posting Trosley’s old works featuring racist imagery. This led to the project’s floor price dropping from 1.3 ETH ($5,614) to between 0.2 and 0.3 ($865 and $1,300, respectively) on November 1. At the time of writing, the floor was at 0.31 ETH.
Furthermore, as the controversy unfolded, many of the project’s owners, including Wood, started selling the NFTs. “I was made aware of some of the artist’s prior disturbing cartoons,” Wood tweeted on November 1. “Upon learning this, I immediately sold the NFTs as I wholly denounce any form of racism. I have donated the funds from the sale of the NFTs to LDF and Black Lives Matter.”
Trosleys put out statements
Early morning yesterday, the father-son duo published a video on YouTube, stating that the cartoons were meant to “call attention” to “social injustices in America.”
“The illustrations that I was contracted to draw, some over 40 years ago, have been taken out of context,” Trosley added in a statement on Twitter. “Today’s generation may not have an understanding of what was taking place in journalism and the world during my time at Hustler magazine.”
In a separate statement, his son called his father’s cartoons “horrible”, adding that Jungle Freaks “do not support or condone racism in any way.”
While some Twitter users said the Tresleys’ statement was “not an apology”, some others claimed that Jungle Freaks designed a Nazi General’s hat as a trait. On the other hand, some rose to their support as well.
“I think the cartoons […] were simply drawn to stir the pot and not meant to be brought up in today’s day and age,” WaffleHouseKidd told Decrypt. “It was what Trosley had to do to keep his job and feed his family.”
Controversies in the NFT industry
Jungle Freaks NFT collection is not the first to stir up a controversy in the NFT world. Mid last month, the Mekaverse team was accused of insider trading and offering unoriginal artwork. Similarly, in September, the leading NFT marketplace, OpenSea, admitted to an insider trading scheme. More recently, Squid Game, the unofficial play to earn game, turned out to be a scam, leaving token holders empty-handed.