Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and tennis legend Serena Williams are among the celebrities named in a class-action lawsuit against the creators of the NFT company Bored Ape Yacht Club. The complaint filed earlier this week in California alleges that celebrity endorsement artificially increased the interest and value of the BAYC NFTs and Yuga Labs' Apecoin crypto tokens, which resulted in "staggering losses" for buyers.
"Defendants' promotional campaign was wildly successful, generating billions of dollars in sales and re-sales," reads the complaint. "The manufactured celebrity endorsements and misleading promotions regarding the launch of an entire BAYC ecosystem (the so-called Otherside metaverse) were able to artificially increase the interest in and price of the BAYC NFTs during the Relevant Period, causing investors to purchase these losing investments at drastically inflated prices."
The lawsuit claims the brand relied "heavily on the perception that 'joining the club' (i.e., buying a BAYC NFT)" would bring buyers status and provide them with benefits, access to events and "other lucrative investment opportunities exclusive to BAYC holders."
Justin Bieber, Madonna, Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Fallon are some other "highly influential celebrities" listed in the lawsuit. The complaint claims that most of them were recruited by talent manager Guy Oseary, and that the celebrities were discreetly paid for their endorsements through the crypto firm Moonpay.
"In truth, the Executive Defendants and Oseary used their connections to MoonPay and its service as a covert way to compensate the Promoter Defendants for their promotions of the BAYC NFTs without disclosing it to unsuspecting investors," reads the complaint.