Gonzo Crypto Blog — Week 17: Celebrities & Crypto, it’s Toxic
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Nov. 2, 2018

I’m a big fan of the Wu-Tang Clan. No, actually, let me rephrase that. I’m a big fan of the music Wu-Tang Clan used to make, keyword being - used. Their promotional and business practices are nothing short of ridiculous lately, culminating in the compilation album The Wu — Once Upon A Time In Shaolin being released in a single copy, touring museums and galleries and then being sold to the highest bidder. It just so happened that Martin Shkreli, a person whose picture you can find in the dictionary next to the word ‘d*ckhead’, was that highest bidder.

Well, this week, it was confirmed that the Ol’ Dirty Bastard Coin (ODB) will be launched on December, 1st. For those of you who don’t know, Ol’ Dirty Bastard is one of the founding members of Wu-Tang Clan, now deceased. This thing is done by TAO and they like to refer to the impending token sale as IAO, short for Initial Artist Offering. They can call it whatever they bloody well desire, but it is still going to be an ICO speculating on a deceased rapper’s name.

They apparently have the rights assigned letters for the artist’s intellectual property. It’s an exclusive right to use the artists’ name in the cryptocurrency space. This speaks levels about whoever owned the rights to ODB’s name. Still, this is just the beginning. They’re also going to be doing the same thing with Digital Underground and, subsequently, more big-name artists.

Here’s a question: does a project named ‘AltMarket’ sounds dodgy to you?. Well, that’s how TAO’s platform is called. Apparently, it’s ‘A Cryptocurrency Exchange for Artistic Patronage’. I might be dumb, but I just don’t understand how one can patronize a dead artist. But, it turns out, you can patronize a dead artists’ son, who decided to capitalize on his dad’s name.

Here’s a little fun fact for you: according to their CEO, the guys behind TAO and AltMarket took their inspiration from Kanye West. More specifically, his legal team that took down an altcoin named ‘Coinye’ that used his image all the way back in 2014.

Clearly, this is nothing but an attempt of creating a new source of revenue and, obviously, this isn’t the first time the music industry has done this. One of the first people to tokenize their music was Gramatik, who released a digital token GRMTK almost a year ago today. Somehow he managed to make $9 million, saying that the fans who bought the token automatically become co-owners of his intellectual property. Here’s how much his tokenized intellectual property is worth now:

Yet, the music industry praised him as a ‘pioneer’. From the standpoint of one of the ugliest and most corrupt industries, he is indeed a pioneer, in a sense that he managed to shake off $9 million from his gullible fans, well done there. From my standpoint, he is nothing but a money-grabbing scammy leech.

There’s another reason why I’m diving into this topic. Just a couple of days ago, the world-famous pirate and domestic abuser Johnny Depp partnered up with TaTaTu, ‘a blockchain based content sharing platform’. The guy clearly has no idea what most of those words even mean. Here’s what he said about the partnership:

“In this era of democratized entertainment, I admire the imaginative ethos of [TaTaTu CEO] Andrea and look forward to collaborating in a liberating, progressive manner that will befit the principals of our respective entities.”

Just one word: WHAT?

To me, any kind of a celebrity endorsement of blockchain-based project is a clear indicator of 1) the project is a scam, 2) the celebrity endorsing it is a money-grabbing idiot. And I can back that up.

Just a couple of weeks ago, former investors of Centra Tech have filed a lawsuit against DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather because of their endorsements. The three co-founders of Centra Tech were arrested back in April, and are currently facing a combined 65 years in jail after selling $60 millions worth of CTR tokens in their crowdsale. Those posts from the Mayweather and Khaled certainly played their part:

Another one of the celebs making a fool of themselves trying to promote a cryptocurrency was, surprise-surprise, Paris Hilton. Some time ago, she posted this tweet, now obviously deleted:

“Looking forward to participating in the new @LydianCoinLtd Token! #ThisIsNotAnAd #CryptoCurrency #BitCoin #ETH #BlockChain.”

How’s LydianCoin doing at the moment? Well…

Also, LydiaCoin’s CEO has apparently pleaded guilty to domestic abuse charges some time ago. Him and Johnny Depp would certainly get along just fine.

This parade of stupidity is finished off by Steven Seagal, an American actor with a Russian passport, who was appointed as Russian Special Envoy to the United States by none other than Vladimir Putin. Honestly, if you think that the examples above were funny, wait till i tell you about this one. Seagal was a brand ambassador for a cryptocurrency called bitcoiin. It sounds that the creators of this thing took their inspiration from a phishing schemes. Should’ve called it bltcoin or something. Instead someone’s finger just slipped on the keyboard, typed in a double ‘i’ and then thought: ah, f*ck it, this will do...

Do I even need to say that the project folded after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the New Jersey regulators, you probably could have guessed something like that yourself? They were actually well into their ICO campaign and they claimed to have successfully reached the soft cap of $75 million. The problem is - no one really knows who was behind this project, with Seagal being the only known figure involved. Just WOW.

Of course, there have been other cryptocurrencies endorsed by famous people, such as Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx, Mel B of Spice Girls, and football superstars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, Jamez Rodriguez and so on. I think at this point you understand the general trend of how those endorsements usually go.

To be honest, I’ve only managed to track down one single project endorsed by a famous person that might not be a scam. And still, I’ve never actually heard of that famous person before. Her name is Imogen Heap, she’s a two-time Grammy winner and she’s been involved in the blockchain space since 2015.

A couple of weeks back, I paid about 0.005 ETH to download a weird song from a blockchain project called Ujo. Turns out, back in 2015, Heap collaborated with them to release her track Tiny Human on the ethereum blockchain. It didn’t go that well - the tune was only downloaded 222 times since then. So can it still be counted as a successful endorsement or just crappy marketing?

Still, she went on to create a project called Mycelia with a ‘Creative Passport’ feature at its core. This thing should include an artist’s portfolio, credits, contributions, contact and payment information and so on. She’s now touring the world promoting this thing. It’s still in development, but it genuinely seems that it could potentially be useful.

There was also 50 Cent, an unexpected financial genius, who accepted bitcoin as payment for his 2014 album, making over 700 bitcoin at the time. Legend has it, Fifty forgot all about his bitcoins until the January 2018 rally, when his 700 BTC were worth over $12 million at some point.

But those are nothing more than mere exceptions, only reaffirming the rule. Celebrities and cryptocurrencies are a toxic relationship.

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