Helped

An NFT Marketplace Exec’s CryptoPunk Avatar Helped Web Sleuths Bust Him for Insider Trading


This week, a top executive at OpenSea, the largest marketplace for crypto collectibles, was revealed to have profited by using insider information to buy NFTs in advance of his company publicly promoting them. 

The platform’s head of product, Nate Chastain, used secret crypto wallets to purchase digital artworks before they were set to be featured on OpenSea’s home page—a form of promotion known to drive up the price of pieces. After the initial pop of interest, Chastain then sold the NFTs, funneling the earnings into a personal account.

In other words, he exploited his position to game the market in his favor. 

The dodgy activity was first called out on Twitter by user @ZuwuTVwho himself both buys NFTs and sells purposely pixelated images of landscapes as the “Pixelated Beauty” collection on OpenSea. The news spread online like wildfire. 

It was the fact that Chastain used a unique CryptoPunk as his Twitter avatar that allowed online sleuths to identify his wallet, which also contains the CryptoPunk. (It is CryptoPunk #3501, with a blue bandana and small sunglasses, purchased for 26.98 Ether—$43,842 at the time—on February 25, 2021.)

Screenshot of Nate Chastain's Twitter, featuring CryptoPunk #3501 as his avatar.

Screenshot of Nate Chastain’s Twitter, featuring CryptoPunk #3501 as his avatar.

OpenSea’s chief executive and co-founder, Devin Finzer, confirmed the report in a blog post this week. “This is incredibly disappointing,” he wrote. “We are taking this very seriously and are conducting an immediate and thorough third party review of this incident so that we have a full understanding of the facts and additional steps we need to take.” 

Chastain has since resigned, Finzer said. 

Technically speaking, the head of product’s actions weren’t illegal. The buying and selling of NFTs is not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Prior to the incident, OpenSea had no rules in place preventing such behavior. 

The latter point has since changed, though. In his post, Finzer said his company has now implemented policies that forbid employees from both exchanging NFTs while the site is featuring or promoting them and using confidential information to purchase or sell any collectibles, “whether available on the OpenSea platform or not.”

Still, the intense response to Chastain’s market machinations might come to be recognized as a turning point in the way we think about NFTs vis-à-vis traditional art.

“In the art world, if someone who worked at a gallery bought up an artist’s art before a big public opening, that would be… a normal Monday,” tweeted Felix Salmon, Axios’s Chief financial correspondent (and a previous Midnight Publishing Group News contributor, this week). 

“The fact that this kind of behavior is genuinely scandalous in the NFT world is a very good indication that NFTs are much closer to being securities than they are to being art,” he added.

Founded in 2017, OpenSea was valued at $1.5 billion this summer, following a $100 million Series B fundraising campaign. Representatives from the company did not immediately respond to Midnight Publishing Group News’s request for comment about the incident regarding Chastain.

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The Art Angle Podcast: How a Tech Giant Helped Helsinki Create the Biennial of the Future


Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Midnight Publishing Group News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join us every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

 

 

Some of the most impactful stories to surface this past year have revolved around three major issues affecting the world as a whole: there’s a worsening climate emergency, a global health crisis and—in the fold—a breakneck acceleration of technology that’s increasingly entangling itself into every aspect of our lives.

When it comes to the art world, we can probably agree it’s time to ask some hard questions. Should there be so many art events? How should we gather? Do we need to experience art in person to understand it?

During lockdowns around the world over the last 18 months, we’ve been learning just how fluidly art can transition into the digital realm—and how clumsy a failed attempt can be.

Among the art events that managed to pull off successful ventures this year is the first edition of the Helsinki Biennial, which took on these questions. Taking place on an island off the coast of the capital of Finland, the exhibition, called “The Same Sea,” meets our collective moment, exploring concerns around our interconnectedness, nature, and sustainability. And it’s not just in theme: the Helsinki Biennial is calculating and trimming its climate footprint every step of the way with a goal of becoming the first carbon neutral biennial by 2035.

In the middle of a pandemic and rising temperatures, 41 artists are presenting works that carefully consider the surroundings of Vallisaari Island and the array of plants and creatures that populate it. To reach a wider audience when travel is both restricted and carbon-intensive, the biennale, which is on view until September 26, has partnered with Facebook Open Arts to explore how technology might help connect audiences with artworks peppered on the island.

This week, we’re thrilled to welcome Maija Tanninen, director of the forward-thinking Helsinki Biennial and the Helsinki Art Museum, and Tina Vaz, Head of Facebook Open Arts, to discuss the Helsinki Biennial’s unique approaches to greening a biennial, and how technology can be used to bring us closer to nature in meaningful ways.

If you enjoy this conversation, please join our panel conversation, “Helsinki Biennial and Facebook Open Arts – Future Visions / Art & Tech”—which will be available to watch on our Facebook page on September 22.

 

Listen to Other Episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: Artists in Residence at the World Trade Center Reflect on 9/11

The Art Angle Podcast: Genesis Tramaine on How Faith Inspires Her Art

The Art Angle Podcast: The Bitter Battle Over Bob Ross’s Empire of Joy

The Art Angle Podcast: How Britney Spears’s Image Inspired Millennial Artists

The Art Angle Podcast: How the Medicis Became Art History’s First Influencers

The Art Angle Podcast: How Two Painters Helped Spark the Modern Conservation Movement

The Art Angle Podcast: The Hunter Biden Controversy, Explained

The Art Angle Podcast: Legendary Auctioneer Simon de Pury on Monaco, Hip Hop, and the Art Market’s New Reality

The Art Angle Podcast: 18-Year-Old NFT Star Fewocious on How Art Saved His Life, and Crashed Christie’s Website

The Art Angle Podcast (Re-Air): How Photographer Dawoud Bey Makes Black America Visible

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The Art Angle Podcast: How Two Painters Helped Spark the Modern Conservation Movement


Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Midnight Publishing Group News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

Right now there is a powerful, highly ambitious, and deeply relevant art show in New York that weaves together the histories of conservation and American art in a way most people haven’t seen before.

It’s a quick jag from the city across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into Catskill, New York, but light years away from the bustling metropolis, where on either side of the river are the historic homes of the famed Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Frederic Church in New York’s Hudson River Skywalk Region.

Inside those homes—the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and Olana State Historic Site—sprawls the show titled “Cross-pollination: Head, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment,” with art that spans the mid-19th century to today, the exhibition is built around a suite of 16 bravura paintings of hummingbirds titled “The Gems of Brazil” by the little known Hudson River School artists, Martin Johnson Heade, and it takes flight from there exploring a network of interconnections between art, science, and the natural world.

It also provides rich insight into the story of the relationships at the heart of the show between Heade, Thomas Cole, and Frederic Church, three of the greatest visionary artists America has ever known.

This week on the podcast, Andrew Goldstein is joined by Thomas Cole National Historic Site curator Kate Menconeri to discuss how these historic artists first began thinking about ideas of conservation and preservation, and how contemporary artists have taken up the mantle to encourage a new generation not only to appreciate nature, but how to give back what for years we’ve been taking from it.

 

Listen to Other Episodes:

The Art Angle Podcast: The Hunter Biden Controversy, Explained

The Art Angle Podcast: Legendary Auctioneer Simon de Pury on Monaco, Hip Hop, and the Art Market’s New Reality

The Art Angle Podcast: 18-Year-Old NFT Star Fewocious on How Art Saved His Life, and Crashed Christie’s Website

The Art Angle Podcast (Re-Air): How Photographer Dawoud Bey Makes Black America Visible

The Art Angle Podcast: Tyler Mitchell and Helen Molesworth on Why Great Art Requires Trust

The Art Angle Podcast: How High-Tech Van Gogh Became the Biggest Art Phenomenon Ever

The Art Angle Podcast: How Much Money Do Art Dealers Actually Make?

The Art Angle Podcast: What Does the Sci-Fi Art Fair of the Future Look Like?

The Art Angle Podcast: How Kenny Schachter Became an NFT Evangelist Overnight

The Art Angle Podcast: How Breonna Taylor’s Life Inspired an Unforgettable Museum Exhibition

Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Art Dealer Mariane Ibrahim on the Power of the Right Relationships

The Art Angle Podcast:‘Art Detective’ Katya Kazakina on How She Lands Her Epic Scoops

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Rainstorms in Greece Helped Archaeologists Uncover a 3,000-Year-Old Bronze Idol of a Bull That May Have Been an Offering to Zeus


Torrential downpours in the small town of Olympia, Greece, have yielded an incredible discovery: a fully intact 3,000-year-old bronze bull figurine.

The Greek culture ministry announced the remarkable find on March 19, calling it an “accidental” discovery that occurred while archaeologists were surveying the site, where the ancient Olympic Games were held.

The small sculpture, measuring about two inches in length, was found by Zacharoula Leventouris, an archaeologist who saw “one of its horns protruded from the ground,” according to the ministry. The object was later taken to a laboratory, where conservators have been studying it more thoroughly.

The bronze figurine of a bull, discovered in Olympia, Greece. Courtesy Greek Culture Ministry, copyright: ΥΠΠΟΑ

The bronze figurine of a bull, discovered in Olympia, Greece. Courtesy Greek Culture Ministry, copyright: ΥΠΠΟΑ

Preliminary results indicate that the bronze sculpture dates to the Geometric period of Greek art, from around 1050–700 BCE, and would have been presented as an offering to Zeus along with thousands of other votive offerings at a sanctuary. The sculpture was uncovered near the Altis, the sacred grove of Zeus, according to the Guardian.

Bulls and horses were important animals in Ancient Greece, as they “acquired a special role in the worship of the gods of antiquity,” according to the Greek ministry.

In Greek mythology, Zeus was enamored with a woman named Europa, and transformed himself into a bull and took her to the island of Crete, where she bore his sons.

Other symbols associated with Zeus include oak trees, thunderbolts, and eagles.

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