From Hong Kong to Hollywood, Bored Ape Yacht Club members span the globe. But what’s the real story behind this group of blasé simians that’s driven BAYC to become one of the most recognized and valuable NFT projects in the world?
BAYC – Generative art and innovative technology.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club broke onto the NFT (non-fungible token) scene in April 2021, the brainchild of four founders of Yuga Labs, known only by their pseudonyms at the time. NFTs are data units stored on a cryptocurrency blockchain that allow holders to own and transfer digital items memorialized on a public ledger. BAYC is built on a blockchain known as Ethereum.
BAYC was one of the first NFT projects to combine collectible art with community membership and perks, giving NFT owners enhanced utility beyond a simple profile picture (PFP). The innovative use of the Ethereum blockchain’s smart contract features sprung the project to the forefront of the NFT marketplace.
BAYC’s artwork is more elaborate than the 8-bit pixel style common in earlier NFT collections, and the apes have become popular avatars for use on Twitter and other social platforms. Plus, the apes had a creative backstory – they’re so rich from crypto investments, they have nothing to do but hang out with like-minded apes in a swamp clubhouse.
Scarcity and Evolving Value – the Apes’ meteoric rise.
Entering the market at roughly $300 USD (.8 ETH), prices for the BAYC NFT have soared, the most expensive ape nearing $4 million USD. There are only 10,000 apes, each one with a unique combination of facial features, fur colors, clothes, hats, and accessories. A high-demand/low-supply paradigm drives up the price, while the rarity of an ape’s attributes helps dictate the value of a particular ape NFT.
Yuga Labs continues to deliver new features and upgrades to BAYC holders that have boosted the NFTs’ value even further. In June 2021, every Bored Ape owner was given the right to adopt a four-legged canine companion NFT for free, paying only for “gas” – the processing fee for a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain. The dogs, which will “curl up at your feet,” “bring you a beer,” or “fire a missile launcher at that bastard Jimmy the Monkey,” are known as the Bored Ape Kennel Club. A kennel club dog, currently worth over $10,000 USD, can be sold on a secondary market with proceeds going to the owner and royalties donated to animal shelters.
Additionally, in August 2021, Yuga Labs created 20,000 Mutant Apes, bringing new members on board and generating $96 million in a one-hour sellout. But original Bored Ape holders weren’t left behind. Each one received a free airdrop of a mutant serum allowing the holder to mint a mutant ape from their existing Bored Ape. The holder could choose to sell the mutant on the secondary market for a profit, or to hold it along with the original.
In March 2022, Ape holders were given 10,000 APE Coin, the club’s newly created cryptocurrency, an asset tradeable on cryptocurrency markets for oftentimes significant profit. BAYC has also previewed a decentralized Metaverse project called Otherside, with gaming elements for BAYC holders.
BAYC – An Elite Online and In Real Life (IRL) Community.
BAYC members include athletes like Tom Brady and Serena Williams, musicians like Madonna, Eminem and Snoop Dogg, along with businesspeople and tech innovators. Buying a BAYC NFT gives the holder access to an exclusive digital clubhouse, where they can interact and network with these and other ape holders in a Discord server.
Plus, BAYC hosts its club members at real-life, offline events. BAYC held its first annual Ape Fest in November 2021, treating members to concerts and immersive art experiences. The 2022 event, held during the NFT.NYC conference in June 2022, featured free food, drinks, and merch, plus live performances by Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Haim, Future, and more.
Intellectual Property and Commercial Use of the Bored Ape.
A BAYC NFT holder owns certain intellectual property rights in their particular Bored Ape image, and can use and profit from it as they choose. Some holders have licensed their rights for film, T.V. and books. One ape, named Jenkins by his owner, now has his own twitter account and a web3 novel called “Bored & Dangerous,” featuring a cast of over 3,000 other apes. The holders have more publishing opportunities in the works.
Bored Apes have shown up on t-shirts at major retailers, including Old Navy and Aeropostale. Brands including Arizona Iced Tea and Adidas have featured apes in their marketing campaigns.
And recently, a BAYC-themed burger restaurant opened in California. Dubbed “Bored & Hungry,” customers can pay for their food in Ethereum, Ape Coin or plain USD. Commercial potential for the apes is extensive.
BAYC – A permanent cultural icon?
The Bored Apes have faced obstacles, most recently in the form of a copycat NFT ape issued to challenge the extent of BAYC holders’ commercial rights in their official Bored Ape NFT artwork.
Nevertheless, BAYC owners continue to elevate the value of their NFT holdings by placing their Bored Apes in the public eye and making Bored Ape culture available to all of us. If a rising tide lifts all ships, BAYC will continue to flourish. Mickey Mouse, step aside.