Published on: 11/01/2023
Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg to auction collaborative NFT artwork
Infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden and American political activist Daniel Ellsberg will auction their collaborative Ethereum NFT-based artwork via PleasrHouse, a new interactive live stream from PleasrDAO, a Web3 collective of DeFi enthusiasts.
Snowden and Ellsberg — both board members of the Freedom of the Press Foundation — got the inspiration to co-create a collectible artwork from Ellsberg’s publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, entitled “Wouldn’t You Go to Prison to Help End This War?”
The NFT includes archival footage of Ellsberg’s 1971 interview at the Boston courthouse, where the political activist surrendered himself. They created the video with the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s custom software.
PleasrDAO marketing chief Chris Eberle said the company had previously acquired Snowden’s Stay Free NFT.
Eberle added that money obtained from the new collectible would go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation — to cover the operational costs for more than a year — and the Daniel Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy.
PleasrHouse is a live late-night talk show that “culminates” in infamous collectible art auctions. Eberle described the show as a mix of PBS documentaries, funny SNL skits, Adult Swim’s experimental energy and podcasts.
This new show aims to engage and educate viewers about arts, the internet, culture and society through Q&As, interviews and other original content. PleasrDAO described PleasrHouse as an experiment that would disrupt traditional live art auctions.
PleasrHouse’s first episode, set to air on January 12, will highlight the Ethereum NFT and feature an interview with Snowden and Ellsberg. PleasrDAO will also show clips of its in-house documentary.
“We had been working on a Web3 auction house, and this piece ([with] these whistleblowers) was a perfect fit for the inaugural episode,” Eberle said.
Eberle added that although the first episode would center around political activists and whistleblowers, viewers could expect more diverse themes and online experiences in the show going forward.
Launched in March 2021, PleasrDAO was originally created to purchase an NFT by renowned digital artist Emily “pplpleasr” Yang. In April 2021, PleasrDAO won an auction for an NFT artwork created by Snowden, paying $5.4 million worth of ETH for the piece.
PleasrDAO said it had participated in the bid to support the concept of transparency in the NFT market. The company added that Snowden had changed the common convention for NFT sales for that deal.
Later in October 2021, PleasrDAO purchased Wu-Tang Clan’s 2015 album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” with a winning bid of $4 million.
The U.S. government confiscated the digital piece from the previous owner, pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of securities fraud.
PleasrDAO also provided aid to Ukraine in February 2022 as the country faced invasion by Russia. Its Ukraine DAO initiative raised millions in crypto to help the Ukrainian government and various NGOs.
Snowden, Web3, DeFi
Over the years, Snowden has shown an interest in Web3. He explained that blockchain’s decentralized and censorship-resistant characteristics had sparked his interest. Meanwhile, the Web3 community also sympathizes with him for his high-profile whistleblowing case.
Snowden is also supportive of cryptocurrency, saying he sees more value in its use than as an investment instrument.
“Generally, I don’t encourage people to put their money in cryptocurrencies as a technology, and this is what distances me from a lot of people in the community,” Snowden said.
Last year, the whistleblower defended the crypto industry from a group of tech experts who tried to prevent U.S. lawmakers from caving into the lobbying efforts of crypto advocates. Snowden said it displayed the misunderstanding of the crypto industry.