The Bored Ape Yacht Club’s former Social Lead, Shpend Salihu, has resigned after the resurfacing of racist and antisemitic posts from his past.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a high-profile NFT project, has confirmed that its former Social Lead, Shpend Salihu, stepped down from his position following the public outcry over offensive posts from his past. Yuga Labs, the $4 billion startup behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club and other NFT collections, had introduced Salihu as its Social Lead in a LinkedIn post in June.
Salihu, who went by the username NGBxShpend, took to X to announce his resignation and addressed the resurfaced posts.
The posts contained derogatory comments about members of various races and ethnoreligious groups. In his statement, Salihu expressed remorse and acknowledged that the posts did not align with his true beliefs.
“It has been an amazing experience getting to know all of you over the last years, and I am proud of everything I’ve done with BAYC and Yuga. I want to apologize to anyone who I may have let down with posts I made in poor taste.”
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a prominent NFT project that features 10,000 unique Ethereum profile pictures (PFPs) serving as access passes to a private club with various exclusive benefits, including access to events and NFT drops, along with ApeCoin tokens. Since its launch in early 2021, the project has witnessed substantial trading volume, accumulating nearly $3 billion in transactions, according to data from CryptoSlam. The project’s success has expanded with the introduction of follow-up projects like the Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Otherside.
Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club, received $450 million in funding in 2022, valuing the startup at $4 billion.
Additionally, Yuga Labs acquired the intellectual property rights for CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs.
The timing of Salihu’s resignation coincided with ApeFest, the annual real-world gathering for Bored Ape Yacht Club members, held in Hong Kong.
However, the event was marred by reports of attendees experiencing discomfort in their eyes, potentially due to overexposure to UV light, previously reported on Coinlive
Before and after Salihu’s resignation, some Bored Ape NFT owners and collectors had expressed concerns about his past posts.
Moreover, Yuga Labs and its co-founders had previously faced allegations of incorporating antisemitic and racist imagery in the creation of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
In response to these allegations, the company strongly refuted the claims, emphasizing the diverse backgrounds of its co-founders while denying any specific instances of racist imagery or references.
Notably, artist Ryder Ripps had been one of the individuals making such allegations against Yuga Labs. This led to a legal dispute, with Yuga Labs filing a lawsuit against Ryder Ripps and collaborator Jeremy Cahen over a copycat Bored Ape collection.
The legal battle culminated in a U.S. district judge ruling in favor of Yuga Labs, ordering the defendants to pay $1.575 million in damages and transfer the smart contract powering the knockoff collection to Yuga Labs in late October.