Believing it to be a genuine Banksy, a UK-based collector — who trades digital collectibles under the username Pranksy, and described himself as a “huge fan” of the street artist — offered the equivalent of over $335,500 in the cryptocurrency Ethereum. But when his bid was immediately accepted, ending the auction days ahead of schedule, he became “99% sure” that he had become the victim of fraud.
“As soon as (the bid) was accepted I felt it was fake/hacked,” the collector said over email.
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The collector, who suggested that Banksy’s website had been hacked, said on Twitter that the scam may have been the work of “an ethical hacker proving a point.”
“Perhaps (the seller was) spooked by the amount of media coverage the hack received,” he later told CNN. “I’m really not sure, but very grateful to have received the majority of my Ethereum back.”
Some social media users have since accused the collector of orchestrating the incident for publicity, though he said he has “no desire or need to pull a stunt like this for coverage.”
“I aspire to be able to work with artists like Banksy in the future and (to help) them learn more about NFTs,” he added. “Hacking their website and purchasing an NFT from myself would not be the best way to do that!”
Banksy recently produced a series of artworks in British seaside towns. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Despite nearly losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the collector defended OpenSea and said he should have waited for “official verification” from Banksy before bidding. “I hope to own some of his real work one day,” he added.