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CryptoPunks Project Put on Hold by Yuga Labs Due to ‘Woke’ Community Outcry

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
cryptoPunks Project Put on Hold by Yuga Labs

Yuga Labs, the company behind of the iconic and influential NFT collection CryptoPunks, has faced significant backlash and controversy over its latest venture.

After introducing CryptoPunks into museums, Yuga Labs revealed plans to allow notable artists to contribute to the project with the official Punks stamp.

The first effort involved artist Nina Chanel Abney, who was initially chosen as the inaugural selection for the Punk in Residence program.

Abney’s Super Punk World Prompts Controversy


She unveiled her new collection, “Super Punk World,” over the weekend at The School at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.

The planned NFTs for the collection were revealed on Monday

The collection featured her hand-selected avatars, which drew inspiration from the iconic CryptoPunks traits and her previous work.

Each avatar was meticulously curated and digitized to create 195 unique 3D-sculpted attributes, reflecting Abney’s aesthetic while paying homage to the irreverent roots of the CryptoPunks project.

Yuga Labs intended to introduce wallets, generative art, Web3, and NFTs to a more traditional art crowd and collectors.

“We’re trying to bring CryptoPunks to the masses here, in a way,” Nathalie Stone, General Manager and Brand Lead of CryptoPunks, said, “but also have them understand why digital ownership matters.”

Abney’s collection also addressed pricing disparities in NFT collections based on gender and skin tone, challenging societal perceptions of value and implicit biases.

However, once Abney’s interpretation of CryptoPunks was revealed, the project faced a wave of backlash on social media.

“Woke” Artwork


Critics attacked the art style, the attempt to reimagine an iconic project, and accusations of being “woke” due to the emphasis on race and gender.

The project also received negative attention for diluting the original CryptoPunks collection, with some collectors expressing their dissatisfaction with Yuga Labs’ attempt to expand a project that is considered a valuable “blue chip” Ethereum NFT set.

Initially, Yuga Labs chose not to comment on the backlash.

However, CEO Greg “Garga” Solano later tweeted a statement clarifying their stance.

He said that the NFTs, originally planned for auction, will now be distributed in some way to Super Cool World NFT holders, possibly through a randomized airdrop.

Additionally, there will be no follow-up artist residency initiative in the same manner.

“Yuga will no longer touch Punks… The only thing we intend to do is support a few museums and institutions in their quest to acquire a Punk and help educate their audience about them.”

Back in March, Starbucks, the renowned multinational coffee chain, made the decision to terminate its NFT rewards program.

The move by Starbucks follows a trend of companies discontinuing their involvement in the NFT space.

In January, gaming retailer GameStop announced the closure of its NFT marketplace after scaling back its crypto services over the past two years.

More recently, X (formerly Twitter), under the ownership of Elon Musk, discontinued a feature that allowed premium users to use NFT images as their profile pictures.