Artist Danny Casale, who often operates under the pseudonym Coolman Coffeedan, is being sued by the Florida-based company DigiArt, which claims that Casale has repeatedly breached an agreement he and the company entered into that “expressly gave DigiART the exclusive right to market and offer for sale all non-fungible tokens” (NFTs) and in which all proceeds were to be split between the parties evenly, according to the legal complaint. According to sales listed in the complaint, this amounts to millions of dollars owed to the company, which the artist had hired “to take steps to promote Casale’s digital and physical art and raise his public profile and exposure to an international art collector base”.
The agreement, which was signed in May of 2021 and expires in May 2022, details the ways in which DigiArt, along with the digital art dealer Marcel Katz, were enlisted to help drive sales of Casale’s work, and the complaint notes that their public relations efforts included “Casale’s official debut at Miami Art Week”, for which Katz organised a pop-up show called Ur Special Coffee at a bagel shop in Miami that for one day sold paper cups of coffee for $1,000 on which Casale had drawn.
The complaint details a number of works that Casale “began marketing and offering for sale online”, allegedly in breach of the agreement, including a collection he refers to as Coolman's Universe that contains more than 10,000 NFTs. According to the complaint, the Coolman Universe collection sold for $3.6m on the NFT platform Metalink, and “has now generated a secondary trading volume of over 18,000 Ethereum, or over $50 million on OpenSea, with a 5.6% royalty to Casale on all secondary trading, which converts to over $3 million in royalties for secondary trading alone”. The OpenSea listing for the Coolman's Universe NFTs puts the value of trading of Casale's series, as of this writing, at around ETH20,800 ($53.4m). If the complaint’s allegations are true, and if these sales figures are accurate, that alone would represent millions of unpaid dollars due to DigiArt.
Casale allegedly claims that an agreement was never reached, as the complaint states that he argued that there was never a “meeting of the minds” between him and DigiArt, and that the lawsuit was brought about solely because “success breeds litigation”. A spokesperson for Casale told The Art Newspaper that “this lawsuit is completely meritless and it will not impact Coolman's Universe”.