Nirvana NFTs face fan backlash again

By Raffaele Redi
• Updated

The troubled story of the Nirvana non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Detail of the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind CD, the band's second studio album released on September 24, 1991 by Geffen Records                                 
Yet another Nirvana NFT is expected to launch amid fan disapproval – Photo: Shutterstock

As Nirvana’s non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are expected to launch shortly on the date of what would have been Kurt Cobain’s 55th birthday, fans of iconic American rock band have been in an uproar again. 

Another platform, created by author and phographer Jesse Frohman, previously attempted to launch a Nirvana NFT in late April 2021, receiving the same reaction from fans as the current launch – which has been put together by Pop Legendz – is now.

The Frohman NFT platform was created using his photoshoots of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, billed as "The Last Session”. Some Nirvana fans found it quite distasteful, but Frohman eventually managed to sell some of the NFTs on sale priced at around ETH1 – or $2,440 at the current rate – after receiving some backlash from fans.

However, this time Nirvana fans were surprised by the photographer as the author of the shoots that will be auctioned off as NFTs replying to criticism directly.

The NFT auction

The troubled story of the second Nirvana NFT drop goes back to November 2021, when the Californian photographer who created the catalogue of images – Keith West – claimed to be the only one to have taken pictures during a 1991 exhibition of the band in a club in Philadelphia.

At the time, West announced his intentions to drop 29 pictures as NFTs on the OpenSea platform, the largest NFT marketplace.

Recently the pictures, which cannot be found on OpenSea, were instead announced as intended to be minted as tokens on the platform, run by Keith West.

The announcement stated that: “On 02.20.2022, which would have been Kurt Cobain's 55th birthday, at 2:20pm EST, Pop Legendz holds an auction of four unique NFTs of GIF artworks. Each artwork is crafted from five never-before-seen images.

“Additionally, 10 still images in both black and white and colour will be included in this auction. Each winner of an auction will receive a unique, framed, fine-art 16"x24" print of one image, signed by the photographer.

“[The] auction for moving-image composites starts at ETH67, which is about a quarter of a million USD; for still images, [the] auction starts at ETH1, or about $3,000.”

The announcement further stated that: “Nirvana Fan Club Sale: A sale of limited-edition NFTs for fans: 100 lucky fans will be able to purchase 10 artworks crafted from three images at USD$499 each, plus 100 copies of each of 31 still images, which will be sold for USD$99 each.

“The sale will begin right here on 02.20.2022. Payments in cryptocurrency or by credit card.

“Half of all proceeds from both the auction and the sale benefit The Trevor Project, a non-profit assisting at-risk LGBTQ+ youth to prevent suicides.”

The photographer’s response to the backlash

However, West didn’t find the success he had hoped for in response to the project. On the contrary, some Nirvana fans started posting negative comments in reaction to the news, forcing the photographer to make a further response.

One fan, Ian Morris, commented: “It’s worse EVEN than that, because to achieve all this pointlessness they have to chew through ungodly amounts of electricity. For absolutely nothing.” 

Remonstrations from fans prompted the photographer to reply to fans with an interrogative stance: “I'm the photographer. For all their considerable downsides, NFTs restore proof of ownership to artists.

“We make so little for our labour. Right-clicking and copying makes a slave of the artist. For what its worth, I'm researching the environmentally sensitive blockchains for future.

“I do get a very modest royalty of 2.5% as the NFTs are sold on to others from the auction – a little higher royalty for the less-expensive ‘fans sale’. I set a low royalty for the more expensive NFTs since people are paying a lot initially. I'm trying to be fair to everyone.

“One thing I learned in my long career as a professional photographer was to never tell your client how they should spend their money. Purchases that I wouldn't make myself make my clients happy, so who am I to judge?”

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