NFT sales drop 92% from peak, says Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal reported that "the NFT market is collapsing", citing data from NonFungible that showed daily average sales of NFTs had dropped 92% from their September peak. They also reported that active wallets had dropped 88% from their November peak, suggesting fewer people were regularly trading NFTs. This may reflect growing disillusionment with a sector that's increasingly earned its reputation as full of scams and opportunities to lose money.

However, the article must be taken with a grain of salt. It's very difficult to determine in the moment what's simply a temporary lull rather than a death spiral, and notoriously inconsistent NFT and crypto data sources can tell wildly different stories.

The Vatican plans a metaverse NFT gallery

A grid of four rendered humanoid figures with very shiny skin. The women have large breasts and tiny waists, the man is muscular and slim. The top left woman is wearing a shiny white bodysuit and an iridescent complex harness around her breasts and midsection. The top right woman is wearing a translucent pink bra with large nipple rings, and fishnet pantyhose under purple pants. The bottom left man is wearing no shirt but an iridescent chest harness, and ashiny blue bottoms. The bottom right woman is wearing a very small orange crop top that reveals the bottom half of her breasts, tiny orange underwear, and a translucent pink waist harness.Can't wait to roll up to the Vatican museum in my metaverse avatar (attribution)
A press release from metaverse developer Sensorium announced a "VR and NFT gallery" that would host art and content for the Vatican. The project will allow VR, PC, and mobile interactions, and enable people to "build unique NPCs and communicate with them". That part is a promising prospect for anyone interested in watching the Roman Catholic Church try to deal with the challenges of moderating metaverse shenanigans, and made altogether more amusing by the fact that Sensorium's current collection of example metaverse avatars are all hypersexualized, apparently covered in oil, and wear skimpy or sheer outfits apparently made from mesh, latex, and various harnesses.

For now it sounds like the project doesn't involve selling NFTs, which raises the question of why NFTs are required at all when the goal seems to just be to display artwork online—something the Vatican already does. Personally, until I can own the Popemobile in the metaverse, I'm not interested.

Juno whale threatens to sue network validators if community confiscates his tokens

The Juno community has officially voted to confiscate over 2.95 million $JUNO owned by one whale who they believe gamed the airdrop to obtain more than his fair share. This follows a long community discussion about his actions, and formalized a previous community poll on what to do. When the discussions began, the 2.95 million $JUNO to potentially be confiscated were worth a combined $121 million. However, the $JUNO price has dropped from the then all-time-high of around $40 to $11.30, putting the value of the tokens to be confiscated closer to $33 million.

The whale has repeatedly appealed to the community not to revoke his tokens, even trying to claim that the Juno developers had been secretly selling off $JUNO and damaging the community. Unfortunately for him, he didn't succeed in swaying the community, who voted on April 29 to confiscate his tokens.

The whale has threatened to take "legal action against each validator" if the community burns or locks the tokens that previously belonged to him, and which he claims to have been managing on behalf of clients in an investment scheme.

Wikimedia Foundation stops accepting cryptocurrency donations

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that owns and operates Wikipedia and related projects, announced that they would no longer accept donations in cryptocurrency. The announcement followed a formal request from the community that the WMF no longer accept such donations, a request that came from three months of discussion among members of the community.

The Wikimedia Foundation has accepted cryptocurrency donations since 2014, accepting donations in cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Ripple (XRP), Litecoin, Dogecoin, and the DAI and USDC stablecoins. However, it has made up a small portion of the non-profit's donation revenue—they received only $130,000 worth of crypto donations in the last fiscal year, which made up 0.08% of their revenue.

There has been strong pressure from crypto advocates on the WMF to accept crypto donations—both in 2014 when it was initially implemented, but also via brigading of the recent community discussion.

Phishing sites appearing to be the "Otherside" Bored Ape land project steal NFTs valued at $6 million

In what should surprise nobody, some of the historically phishing-prone fans of the pricey Bored Apes project fell for scams that pretended to be the Bored Apes' new land project, called "Otherside". In collectors' hurry to mint the metaverse land NFTs, some fell for phishing sites pretending to be the real deal.

Blockchain sleuth zachxbt found one such address that had netted around $1 million in NFTs just today, and tracing its transactions led to two other scammer wallets containing $5.1 million of other stolen NFTs.

Popular NFT mint spikes Ethereum gas prices; OpenSea transaction fees exceed $3,500

A pixel-art image of a blue goat sitting in a red bowlGoat Soup #3672: $275 for the NFT, $3,850 for the fee (attribution)
The much-awaited Bored Ape Yacht Club "Otherside" metaverse land sale began, and its popularity just about wrecked Ethereum for everyone else. Gas fees, which increase based on network congestion, spiked to shocking levels, with an average OpenSea sale costing more than 1.25 ETH ($3,500) in gas.

Most trading on OpenSea during this period was for the much-anticipated Otherside land deeds, which sell for around 5 ETH ($13,500) plus gas. However, some people oddly continued to buy and sell cheaper NFTs, including one person who bought a 0.1 ETH ($275) NFT and paid $3,850 in transaction fees.

Solana goes down again

On April 30, NFT minting bots began flooding the Solana network with 4 million transactions per second, causing the network to lose consensus. The project tweeted that "Engineers are still investigating why the network was unable to recover, and validator operators prepare for a restart." The network was offline for seven hours.

This is hardly the first instability the network has demonstrated, much to the chagrin of its users. Transaction flooding is an issue on Solana in part because of the low transaction fees compared to networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which have relatively high gas fees that would make flooding extremely expensive.

"Official" Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NFT project buys a fake IP rights contract

Illustration of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle holding a boombox to its earTMNT NFT Twitter profile picture (attribution)
A project to create Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NFTs stirred up a lot of excitement, garnering more than 100,000 Twitter followers on a verified Twitter account that described itself as "The Official TMNT NFT". Crypto research project "Rug Pull Finder" wrote on March 29 that they didn't believe the project owned the IP rights they needed. The TMNT project posted later that day same day, "Let's make it clear: we own the NFT digital rights of the Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987". Rug Pull Finder followed up with a detailed thread in late March outlining their belief that the project didn't own the proper rights to create the NFTs, writing that, "unless they can get cooperation from Viacom for the release of their collection, it will absolutely be a rugpull".

In late April, the Twitter account was suddenly suspended. On April 30, the TMNT project announced in their Discord that they had discovered that they had been sold a "fake IP rights contract", which they learned after communication from Paramount. They, probably overly optimistically, wrote that they would be pausing the project but they were hoping to "continue the project hand in hand" with Paramount.

Saddle Finance loses more than $11 million to hack

An exploiter used a flash loan attack to pull 3,933 ETH (~$11 million) from the "decentralized automated market maker" Saddle Finance. Shortly after the attack, the hacker began moving the stolen funds through the Tornado Cash tumbler to launder the money.

Saddle Finance had lost money once before, right after it launched in January 2021. An individual was able to arbitrage Saddle Finance pools for a profit of around $275,000.

$80 million stolen from Fei Protocol and Rari

A hacker attacked multiple Rari liquidity pools relating to the Fei Protocol, exploiting a known re-entrancy vulnerability that exists on forks of the Compound protocol. The attacker stole more than $80 million from the projects.

Fei Protocol tweeted that they had paused borrowing to avoid further thefts, and offered a $10 million bug bounty if the hacker returned the money.

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