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Assange-Pak NFT raises over $40 million ahead of auction today

The much-anticipated auction of NFT collection ‘Censored’, a collaboration between political prisoner Julian Assange and renowned artist Pak will launch today, the same day set by the UK Supreme Court for Julian Assange to file his application to appeal against US extradition.

The collection consists of two parts: an auction of a single artwork ‘Clock’ (1 of 1) and a separate pay-what-you-like Open Edition.

The proceeds from the auctioned single artwork Clock will raise funds for Julian Assange’s legal battle.

The auction site is censored.art.

Both the auction for Clock and the sale of the Open Edition start today at 14:00 London, 09:00 New York, 17:00 Moscow, 19:30 New Delhi, 22:00 Hong Kong, 01:00 (8th February) Sydney.

The auction for Clock and the sale of the Open Edition will run for 48 hours.

The Open Edition artwork generates a customized NFT based on the message entered by each collector.

Proceeds from the Open Edition will go to organizations chosen by Julian Assange and Pak that fight censorship, champion press freedom, or defend fundamental rights.

One of the bidders on Clock, AssangeDAO, has raised more than $40 million worth of ethereum (ETH) and counting to deploy at the auction.

The Collaboration: ‘Censored’

Censored‘ is a digital art collection exploring the concept of freedom, and is a collaboration between Julian Assange and record-breaking NFT artist Pak. It was unveiled over the weekend.

‘Censored’ is a two-part collection.

The first part of the collaboration is a one of a kind generative interactive blockchain artwork titled Clock. AssangeDAO, one of the bidders, has raised over $40 million and counting to deploy at the auction.

Pak tweeted: “Clock (1/1) [Auction] A muted timer. It currently counts Julian Assange’s days in prison.”

Clock changes daily as it displays the number of days that Julian Assange has been imprisoned. All proceeds from Clock will go to support Julian Assange’s defense.

Pak has described the artwork as “dynamic and generative”. “Dynamic” means that the digital art piece changes over time. “Generative” means that the artwork is generated directly from the artist’s instructions on the blockchain. ‘Clock’ is expected to attract major collectors and NFT-world cooperative funds known as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).

The second part of the collection is an interactive Open Edition, which will also run for 48 hours. All proceeds from the Open Edition will go to organizations chosen by Julian Assange and Pak to fight censorship, champion press freedom, or defend fundamental rights.

The Open Edition artworks are generated by anyone who wants to participate and can be acquired “at any price you desire, even free.” Pak’s record-breaking collection ‘Merge’ set the record for open editions with 30,000 collectors and grossing US $91.8 million.

Both Clock and the Open Edition artworks are interlinked and transform in response to Julian Assange’s imprisonment or liberation.

The collaboration between Julian Assange and Pak was kept under wraps for months. On January 5th, Pak’s Twitter account @muratpak tweeted “nine hundred ninety nine”, signifying the number of days that Julian Assange had spent in prison. The following day, @muratpak tweeted “define freedom”, followed by “freedom as a medium” and linked to a WikiLeaks tweet.

Battle of the DAOs

The auction for the single edition is expected to bring about a major bidding war between DAOs.

One of the DAOs planning to bid on the NFT has already broken records. AssangeDAO (@AssangeDAO) launched at 22:32 GMT on 3 February. By Sunday night, it had surpassed the previous most successful NFT-buying DAO, ConstitutionDAO, which was formed to buy a rare copy of the US Constitution. To date, AssangeDAO has raised over $40 million and counting from over 7000 contributors. Contributions range from many small transactions of under US $10 to US $2 million at current Ethereum exchange rates. The median contribution is approximately US $600 (0.2 ETH). The DAO is still open for contributions and each contributor gets a share of the NFTs purchased by the DAO.

AssangeDAO’s mission statement is to “raise funds to help with his legal fees and campaigns to increase public awareness on the systemic failure of our justice systems” and “to inspire a powerful solidarity network and fight for the freedom of Julian Assange”.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The Assange NFT is doing real numbers. Very much looks like a protest vote against the White House’s abuse of the Espionage Act.”

AssangeDAO was loosely modeled on FreeRossDAO, which raised over US $12 million to bid on the Ross Ulbricht NFT collection. More details about AssangeDAO can be found at the following links:

What are DAOs?

DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, are organizations whose “articles of incorporation” run on the blockchain. They have proven to be extraordinarily effective fundraising vehicles, especially in short time frames. A DAO is a collective of people who organize online to pool their resources, skills, and time to achieve the stated goals of the DAO. The structure and objectives are determined by its members. The management of a DAO is then automated on the blockchain, allowing people from around the world to come together for a common purpose without having to trust each other.

The Creators

Renowned digital artist Pak is one of the highest grossing artists alive, known for pushing conceptual and stylistic boundaries. Pak became a household name in the traditional art world after Sotheby’s auctioned his collection ‘The “Fungible’ in April 2021, selling for US $16.8 million. In December 2021, Pak again made headlines as his collection ‘The Merge’ set a new record for an artwork sold publicly by a living artist at US $91.8 million, surpassing Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit”.

Australian award-winning author and publisher Julian Assange is the world’s most famous living political prisoner and freedom of speech campaigner. The US government is seeking his extradition to put him on trial for publishing documents evidencing war crimes against civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as torture in Guantanamo Bay. Julian Assange faces a 175-year prison sentence if the US government gets its way. Press freedom organizations warn that the legal precedent will cripple free speech protections worldwide. WikiLeaks specializes in publishing censored documents of diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance. WikiLeaks is credited for sparking democratic revolutions, exposing corruption, war crimes, big pharma, the banks, and environmental disasters, and of bringing evidence of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial killings onto the public record. Julian Assange, who has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, has been imprisoned in London’s notorious Belmarsh prison for over one thousand days.

How will it work?

Both the auction of Clock and the sale of the Open Edition will take place on censored.art.

NFTs are typically auctioned over a period of 24 to 48 hours. NFTs are traded using blockchain technology and are usually sold on the Ethereum network. The currency is ETH.

The code for the NFTs will be contained within the Ethereum blockchain itself. This means that the computer code that generates the artwork exists on the blockchain and can therefore not be manipulated, corrupted, removed, or censored. This ensures data permanence and avoids the problems associated with some so-called ‘JPEG’ NFTs that rely on links to external servers.

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