Members of the crypto art community have accused Buzzfeed News of doxxing the founders of the world's most expensive NFT collection, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), following a report from the news website that revealed their previously hidden identities.
In the article, published on Friday, New York tech journalist Katie Notopoulos named the two men behind the online pseudonyms "Gordon Goner” and “Gargamel” as Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow respectively, both from Florida. BuzzFeed says it found Solano and Aronow’s information by searching public business records for Yuga Labs, the company behind the BAYC. It discovered that Yuga Labs was incorporated at a Delaware address affiliated with Solano and then uncovered other public records that connected Solano with Aronow. Yuga Labs chief executive confirmed to Buzzfeed that Solano and Aronow were indeed founders of the company.
A series of 10,000 simian NFTs launched in April 2021, BAYC has a current trading volume of over $750m and claims a growing legion of celebrity owners including Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber.
The Buzzfeed article came three days after it was reported that Yuga Labs was in financing talks with the US tech investment firm Andresseen Horowitz, which would value the start up at between $4bn and $5bn.
Within hours of Buzzfeed's report, both Solano and Aronow took to their Twitter accounts—run under their pseudonyms—to claim they had been "doxxed", a term that denotes publicly revealing previously private personal information of an individual or organisation, typically with malicious intent. This has led to hundreds of BAYC supporters and other members of the crypto world decrying Buzzfeed and Notopoulos of violating tenets of anonymity that they claim their community depends on.
"F**k Buzzfeed for doxing you," writes one user in reply Solano's tweet. "Absolutely irresponsible journalism and not their choice to make."
"Normies 'doxx' but journalists 'investigate', writes NFT investor Joe McCann on Twitter, adding that Notopoulos should "be held accountable for such reckless behaviour, err, reporting".
Tweeting from her personal account, Notopoulos shared a screenshot of a private exchange with an anonymous user, who threatens to reveal personal information such as her parents' address in retaliation to her journalism.
However, as many have pointed out, Notopoulos merely revealed the names of Solano and Aronow, and did not disclose other personal information about them. Moreover, defenders of Buzzfeed's article stress the importance of investigative journalism to the functioning of a healthy democracy.
Some Twitter users also argue that BAYC's massive revenue and potential multi-billion dollar valuation make them worthy of considerable scrutiny, as would befit any individual or company of such stature. "This is a brand raising millions of dollars [...] Yet, people believe they are just like them", writes tech journalist Maxwell Strachan.
"Nothing says legitimate business like attacking the press for reporting who is doing the business," writes another user.
Two more unidentified individuals are also thought to be co-founders of YugaLabs.