Want To "Own" A Bored Ape?

in Deep Dives2 months ago (edited)

This article is going to contain a step-by-step instruction on how you, and anyone else, can get the Bored Ape from Paris Hilton, or any other NFT "art" on your own computer. And along the way I'll once again try to explain what an NFT actually is (and what it is not).


source: OpenSea

Are NFTs stupid? I'll leave it to you to answer that question for yourself, and share my opinion for you to consider; that's how it's supposed to work in the "marketplace of ideas," isn't it. I personally think that NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) can and ultimately will become very useful for society, but that the present predominant use-case of buying and selling digital art is nonsense. Non Fungible means that it's not interchangeable. One bitcoin is just as good as any other bitcoin. One dollar has the same value as any other dollar. But a rare Magic: The Gathering card is not the same as any other Magic: The Gathering card. NFTs claim to be, in popular parlance, the digital equivalent of those cards.

But they're not. When you buy an NFT, you only buy a receipt. You are now the owner of a digital token that acts as proof that you've bought... Yeah, what have you acquired exactly by transferring your precious ETH to the seller? As you may have heard, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sort of started the hype around NFTs in March 2021 by selling his NFT titled "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" for 69.3 million dollars. In an article on CNBC he himself tried to clear up some misconceptions about NFTs:

“I think that people don’t understand that when you buy, you have the token [or NFT]. You can display the token and show you own the token, but, you don’t own the copyright” to the art that is represented by the token, Winkelmann, 39, says.
source: CNBC

That's one mystery solved: you own the token, you can display the token, and nothing else. You do not own the copyright to the art represented by the token. For you to obtain any other rights, you'll have to resort to traditional laws and legislation, sign real-world contracts as opposed to a smart-contract. "But surely I now have an exclusive right to look at or display the artwork," you might think. Well, yes, but so does anyone else; the blockchain in its very essence is public, for everyone to see and study. And we're going to use that to track down the Bored Ape bought by Paris Hilton, which she showed off in January 2022 on the Jimmy Fallon late night show; that broadcast is linked below this article for you all to see.

What follows is by no means unique or new: there are hundreds, maybe thousands of articles and YouTube videos making the same point and showing the same instructions. It's just that in our circles there still seem to be a lot of misunderstandings about NFTs. Like I said: there surely are plenty of use-cases for NFTs that do make sense, like using them to buy, sell and prove digital ownership of tickets to concerts and other events. This would have many advantages for sellers and buyers alike; sellers can track sales in real time and buyers don't have to worry that their ticket is copied or lost. Any jpeg that comes with the ticket CAN be copied though...

And that's where using NFTs to sell jpegs is nonsensical and even dishonest; there's no jpeg sold or bought, the NFT contains a pointer to the jpeg which sits on the internet somewhere, free for anyone to see and download. Even if it were possible to incorporate the jpeg into the token itself, it would still be publicly available due to the public nature of the blockchain.

So let's track down Paris Hilton's Bored Ape, using only publicly available platforms and addresses. First we go to OpenSea, still the largest NFT exchange platform. We then search for "Bored Ape" and click on the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection. We then click on any of the Bored Apes and on "Details" to show the smart-contract address:


source: OpenSea

Clicking the address opens up the contract on Etherscan.io for us to dive in deeper. To interact with the contract, we click on "Contract":


source: Etherscan

This opens up this page, where we click on "Read Contract" to search for any particular Bored Ape:

source: Etherscan

We can now query the contract. I've already looked up which Ape belongs to Paris Hilton; it's Ape #1294. So we fill in 1294 on the line for the "tokenURI" and click on "Query"; this yields the tokenURI:


source: Etherscan

As you can see, the URI is not an http address but an ipfs (InterPlanetary File System) address; I know that Brave Browser can read these directly, but on other browsers you can use an IPFS Explorer like this one. I use Brave browser, so after putting in the address (ipfs://QmeSjSinHpPnmXmspMjwiXyN6zS4E9zccariGR3jxcaWtq/1294) I'm presented with the full JSON textfile, which reads: {"image":"ipfs://QmbBJWeUhbNYqdSK1dMUMTygwEGCwNJtmuQr29HP1hN9fg","attributes":[{"trait_type":"Mouth","value":"Bored"},{"trait_type":"Background","value":"Purple"},{"trait_type":"Hat","value":"S&m Hat"},{"trait_type":"Eyes","value":"Sunglasses"},{"trait_type":"Fur","value":"Red"}]}

And when I then enter the image address from the JSON file, I've arrived at the image.

Alternatively I can insert the image-path (QmeSjSinHpPnmXmspMjwiXyN6zS4E9zccariGR3jxcaWtq/1294) in the IPFS Explorer to get the image-hash (QmbBJWeUhbNYqdSK1dMUMTygwEGCwNJtmuQr29HP1hN9fg); insert that in the IPFS Explorer and right-click the image there to save it on your computer:


source: Stibits IPFS Explorer

Jimmy Fallon's ape is Bored Ape #599 by the way. This information is available at "THE BORED APE GAZETTE" in the article That's Hot: Paris Hilton Joined The Bored Ape Yacht Club, among other places. So there you have it. You can do this for any NFT, even the $69.3 million NFT from Beeple. In fact, here's a video with a step-by-step instruction much like this one on how to do just that. And all this is just to get to the original file (you can't simply right-click and save the image shown on the OpenSea website); there's nothing stopping you from simply making a screenshot instead ;-)

Why go through all this trouble? Well, no reason other than showing you what an NFT really is. To show you that it's not the artwork that's for sale here, unlike most fanboys would have you believe. If the file is taken down by the real owners, you own a string of text containing a URI that points to nothing. You have no copyrights. "Your" image is freely accessible by anyone. So be careful when spending your money on NFTs, and know what you're spending it on. The NFTs on Loop Market seem to be sound, just like the ones used for ticket-sales, as the image isn't their main selling point nor their source of value. NFTs linked to games also have a real use-case and can therefore be valuable to some. An online jpeg or png however is bereft of all exclusivity, no matter how many NFTs point to that online image.

Paris Hilton's Ape currently has a highest bid of 73 ETH or $174,910.79 and maybe she'll sell, but I don't think so; maybe she isn't even aware of how easy it is for anyone to get a hold of "her" ape. Maybe she doesn't even care; there's a suspicious cloud of opportunism surrounding the celebrity endorsement of NFTs:

There’s a long history of fly-by-night fintech companies using celebrities to promote crypto. A rising tide lifts all boats, goes the thinking: If celebrities get the public on board, the industry expands and bag holders get richer. Creating the illusion of an NFT gold rush inevitably inspires FOMO (the fear of missing out).
source: Coindesk

That's it. That's my opinion and a quick hands-on tour to the reason why I hold that opinion. I hope this has helped your understanding about NFTs relating to online art.

Paris Hilton Surprises Tonight Show Audience Members By Giving Them Their Own NFTs | Tonight Show

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NFT value is not the artwork, it’s the provenance.

If I possessed the technical means to produce an exact copy of the Mona Lisa, brush stroke by brush stroke and pigment by pigment, it would still be worth only a fraction of what the true Mona Lisa is worth.

The Mona Lisa’s value is inextricably tied to its creator and its history.

NFTs provide irrefutable provenance regarding a digital image’s creator, time of creation, ownership history, etc. Nothing more and nothing less. But there can be great value in that.

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