Possibly hidden racist message in Bored Ape Yacht Club collection

Last Updated: 22 June 2022

A new video from YouTuber Philip Rusnack revives rumours of a possible racist and supremacist message in Bored Ape Yach Club (BAYC) collection. Rusnack claims that BAYC is one big right-wing extremist joke that incorporates all sorts of references, symbols, and memes from the anonymous internet forum 4Chan.

Racist caricatures of black and Asian people

According to Rusnack, the BAYC’s popular images are full of racist caricatures of black and Asian people. The YouTuber even goes so far as to compare the language used by Yuga Labs and the BAYC to that of the Nazis. A good example is the comparison between the BAYC’s logo and the Nazi Totenkopf symbol used by the SS in the Panzer Division in World War II.

At the end of the video, Rusnack calls his viewers to action. “I want every actor, athlete, and influencer to burn their “fucking” monkey. I want to create such a shitstorm that everyone from Steph Curry to Post Malone to Jimmy Fallon come under pressure to take action,” Rusnack said in no uncertain terms about the BAYC.

Similarities are no longer coincidence

Rusnack claims in the video that we are at a point where similarities are no longer coincidental. “If I can find one image with references to Nazi, fascist or right-wing extremist ideologies, you can still argue that it’s a coincidence. So I ask you: How many examples do you need? At what point do all these examples become crystal clear to you?,” Rusnack continued.

The allegations before the BAYC began in the early months of 2022. At that time, Ryder Ripps published a compilation of comparisons that he calls evidence of Nazi and anti-Semitic thinking. Ryder Ripps also bought the domain gordongoner.com to archive all examples on a website. Yuga Labs responded to the allegations in January by claiming that many people recognise themselves in the images.

The reaction of Yuga Labs

Yuga Labs, of course, came up with a more extensive defence of the choices made. As for the logo, they state that the choice of a skull refers to the ethos of the BAYC. “We chose a skull to convey how bored the monkeys are,” Yuga Labs says. By which they mean that the monkeys are bored to death.

Mark Pitcavage, an expert on these kinds of images, says he does not recognise any forms of extremism in the BAYC. “The Nazi Totenkopf is a very specific design of a skull and crossbones; the monkey skull has nothing to do with this, except that all skulls look somewhat alike,” Pitcavage said in his reaction.

Pitcavage’s general conclusion is that Ripps’ research does not point to a specific group of extremists. There have also been allegations made against Ripps that his witch hunt is only to promote his own RR/BAYC collection of over 6,000 NFTs. Ripps responded by saying that his collection is only meant as satire and is a protest against the BAYC.

  • Florian Feidenfelder

    Florian Feidenfelder is a seasoned cryptocurrency trader and technical analyst with over 10 years of hands-on experience analyzing and investing in digital asset markets. After obtaining his bachelor's degree in Finance from the London School of Economics, he worked for major investment banks like JP Morgan, helping build trading systems and risk models for blockchain assets.

    Florian later founded Crypto Insights, a leading research firm providing actionable intelligence on crypto investments to hedge funds and family offices worldwide. He is the author of the bestseller "Mastering Bitcoin Trading" and has been featured in prominent publications like the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Barron's for his insights on blockchain technologies.

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