Edward Snowden’s NFT Self-Portrait Raises $5.4 Million for Charity

Edward Snowden
Marco Garcia/AP

An NFT self-portait of the intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden reportedly sold for $5.4 million at a charity auction last week. The proceeds of the sale benefit the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is a non-profit that works on the development of open-source tools for whistleblowers.

Gizmodo reports that an NFT self-portrait of the former intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden was sold for $5.4 million in a charity auction last Friday. The piece, titled “Stay Free” is a digital self-portrait made from the pages of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that ruled that the NSA’s widespread surveillance of phone records violated the law.

Snowden brought this issue to light in 2013 by leaking classified NSA info to journalists. Snowden’s portrait was originally photographed by the photographer Platon, who then granted permission for the work to be used as part of the NFT. The piece was sold on the online art marketplace Foundation.

The piece’s listing stated that is is “the only known NFT produced by Snowden.” The NFT sold for 2,224 Ether which is worth approximately $5.4 million currently. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is a non-profit that works on the development of open-source tools for whistleblowers. The group also helps shield journalists from state-sponsored hackers and government surveillance.

Snowden has been the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation since 2017. Snowden tweeted on Friday: “I want to extend a very special thanks to everyone who followed this over the last 24 hours, and the deepest gratitude from EVERYONE at our @FreedomofPress to those who bid on our charity event. You help us make a better world. Stay free!”

Snowden is still facing several felony charges in the United States under the Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking classified information about the NSA’s global and domestic surveillance programs. This includes the NSA’s “bulk collection” of billions of domestic phone calls and text messages in the United States. This was later ruled unconstitutional in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

To escape prosecution, Snowder fled to Russia in 2013 where he currently resides. Russian authorities initially granted him temporary asylum and last year he was granted permanent residency. 

Breitbart News recently reported that data from NonFungible.com, an NFT marketplace tracker, showed that the value of NFTs has collapsed by almost 70 percent from its peak in February.

The blockchain-based digital certificates that provide individuals with exclusive ownership over a piece of digital art rose to popularity earlier this year, with some works being sold for millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency.

The most famous person to benefit from the NFT craze is a digital artist known as Beeple who sold a collection of his artwork as an NFT for $69 million at the internationally renowned auction house Christie’s.

But since then, the market for NFTs has slowed significantly with individual NFTs now being sold for an average of $1,400 in comparison to $4,300 during the peak of their popularity in mid-February, according to NonFungible’s report.

When examined with a wider scope, NFT tokens still made huge gains this year, surging by almost ten times their value in just six months, according to NonFungible’s analysis. Whether the current prices represent a dip or a steady decline remains to be seen.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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