(They're) Not Okay Bears
Dear Bankless Nation,
Directly below is an NFT from a Bored Ape-inspired collection on Solana called Okay Bears:
This, on the other hand, is an NFT from a “flipped” derivative collection on Ethereum dubbed Not Okay Bears:
By now, it seems there’s Bored Ape and CryptoPunks derivatives on every alt-L1 and L2 chain of note, for example. Yet Not Okay Bears is the first time I’ve seen the reverse, i.e. a NFT derivative leaping from another chain’s project and then gaining non-trivial traction on Ethereum.
On the heels of an incredible volume surge overnight, Not Okay Bears trading halted on OpenSea this morning undoubtedly as the result of a DMCA takedown request. Let’s get you caught up to speed on this clash of the bears for today’s Metaversal.
NFT bear market drama 🐻
What is Okay Bears
Okay Bears is a profile picture (PFP) project composed of 10k illustrated bear NFTs. The collection launched on April 26th, 2022, on Solana’s NFT marketplace Magic Eden with a mint price of 1.5 SOL (~$150 USD at the time) per NFT. Less than one month later, Okay Bears floor NFTs are currently trading for 235 SOL (~$13k USD) and the project’s become Solana’s most traded NFT collection, facilitating +1.4M SOL worth of trade volume to date.
What is Not Okay Bears
Not Okay Bears is a PFP parody project deployed on Ethereum whose 10k NFTs look indistinguishable from Okay Bears NFTs except for how their characters face leftward as opposed to the original collection’s rightward-facing illustrations. The project’s motto? “Bears on Eth because we’re not okay on Solana.”
That said, Not Okay Bears launched yesterday, May 16th, and over the ensuing 24-hour period the project facilitated nearly 3k ETH worth of trade volume and became the most traded NFT collection on Ethereum on the day.
The floor price of Not Okay Bears reached 0.33 ETH at the height of the collection’s initial trading frenzy before leading NFT marketplace OpenSea delisted the collection, presumably due to a takedown request from the Okay Bears team. In the immediate aftermath of the delisting, the floor price of the parody NFTs cratered as low as 0.03 ETH on OpenSea competitor LooksRare before recovering to ~0.06 ETH at press time.
Derivatives drama continues
OpenSea delisting low-effort derivative collections isn’t anything new. For example, last week when the Azuki rugpull connection revelations came out, “flipped Azuki” protest projects popped up and, again, presumably per the Azuki team’s takedown requests, OpenSea set to work in the whack-a-mole process in delisting these spinoff collections. Going back further, other high-profile examples are the CryptoPunks V1 and Phunks delistings, which were done at Larva Labs’s requests.
What is new about this Okay Bears-Not Okay Bears flashpoint, then, is that it comes as something of a combinatory clash of chains, cultures, and ideas about art all at once.
There’s no love lost between many elements of the Ethereum and Solana communities over differing technical visions. Culturally, many Ethereum NFTers see the Solana NFT ecosystem as mostly derivative of Ethereum’s own NFT ecosystem. And as another layer, many people think flipping images is enough of an artistic statement conceptually speaking to create new works. Add all these realities to the fact that Okay Bears is surging right now (the collection’s currently doing more 24-hour volume than BAYC), and you certainly have the makings for fireworks and hot takes.
Some community chatter I’ve seen, paraphrased
- Not Okay Bears was yet another lazy derivative ripoff whose delisting could be seen from a mile a way, so the project took advantage of its minters and collectors.
- Folks should do better about staying away from these low-effort collections.
- The DMCA takedown system is very inadequate and OpenSea’s hands are essentially legally tied by this system, but the leading NFT marketplace could handle delistings more gracefully too.
- OpenSea should refund associated royalties to the buyers of NFT collections they delist.
- It’s hypocritical to delist Not Okay Bears when other ripoff collections like Bored Ape Solana Club are still featured prominently on OpenSea on the Solana side of things.
These sorts of delisting battles likely aren’t going anywhere any time soon in the NFT ecosystem considering how easy it is to quickly spin up derivative collections and how much pressure there is on OpenSea when pressed to respond. Of course, it’s also possible for projects to appeal with DMCA counter-notices, but many derivative collections teams probably won’t care to fight that process in favor of focusing on alternative marketplaces or even simply just moving on.
For this particular Not Okay Bears episode, the dust is far from settled since the project literally just launched and could find a second wind on LooksRare and beyond. Whether the project should live on is another question, but there are intriguing possible scenarios ahead.
For example, could the Not Okay Bears go on to have more success on Ethereum in spite of the OpenSea delisting than Okay Bears on Solana? I think “unlikely,” albeit now it is in the realms of possibility. If that scenario did pan out, I reckon it’d say more about the dominance of the Ethereum NFT ecosystem than anything else. Conversely, I can envision Okay Bears going on to soar further from here and becoming like Solana’s BAYC, never to come back down to earth, while Not Okay Bears steadily die off.
Only time will tell. But if nothing else, at least from all this silliness and strangeness came a 35.8 ETH donation from the Not Okay Bears project to The Giving Block’s Mental Health Impact Index Fund. That’s definitely something of a silver lining, right.