Imagine you’re a non-fungible token artist at the height of the NFT bull run when an art company run by a billionaire slaps you with a lawsuit, alleging you had entered into an agreement that never existed, for the sole purpose of stealing your profits.
For the last year and half, that has been the situation of artist Danny Casale, known as Coolman Coffeedan. He produces artwork meant to inspire, pieces that convey the messages of love, hope, and self-acceptance. Among his work is Coolman’s Universe, a set of NFTs that has done over $41 million in trading volume.
During that bull run, he had been in “incredibly light” talks with DigiART LLC, a company co-founded by Robert Earl, a billionaire and founder of Planet Hollywood. Those talks fell through with no papers signed, but in March 2022 came the news: DigiART was suing Casale for millions of dollars, alleging he had breached an agreement to split the profit of his NFT sales 50-50.
The news shocked Casale, who said he nearly fainted in his kitchen. Fortunately, truth won in the end. Last month, a U.S. District Court in Florida ruled in Casale’s favor, saying that no contract had ever been signed. Due to the ruling, the case was ultimately dismissed, setting a precedent for future cases and body-slamming another predatory art company in the process.
Casale said he hopes the ruling will empower more artists to stand up for themselves and their work, adding that this type of situation isn’t exactly unusual in the art world. He noted that the lawsuit tested his beliefs, but that he emerged stronger and will double down his message that the world is a good place.
As for DigiART, it hasn’t responded to media requests for comment.
Lawsuits in the NFT Space Make News
Controversy always makes news, and in the NFT space that has come through a new, unusual form in the bear market: lawsuits. Here are three stories involving legal (or threatened legal) battles between various members of the NFT community, one of which may set precedent in the space for years to come.
First, two months ago, ex-OpenSea employee Nate Chastain was sentenced to three months of home confinement for insider trading. Chastain was found guilty of purchasing NFTs before they were listed on OpenSea’s homepage, then capitalizing on the exposure and dumping them. The case may set a regulatory framework for the NFT world, a necessary step for the maturation of the space.
Next, also two months ago, NFT whale Machi Big Brother dropped a lawsuit against crypto investigator ZachXBT that alleged the latter had defamed Machi’s character. The resolution was a win for Web3 and its well-loved sleuth, who has exposed countless rug pullers and scammers in the past.
Lastly, five months ago, Ben.eth was threatened with a lawsuit following the drops of his meme coins. The influencer came under fire after the tokens dropped in value and failed to live up to his promises, causing a stir in the Web3 space. Ultimately, the individual did not file the suit for unknown reasons.
Lawsuits are fairly common practice in the business world and more are making their way into the NFT space. While some are frivolous and others petty, some are setting precedent that can be used in cases to come. We hope that Casale’s will as well, for all artists in the space.