The Legal Nightmare of Seth Green’s Stolen Ape

Seth Green
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
May 31, 2022

At a time when war is raging, Covid endures, kids are being shot in schools, and inflation threatens a new recession, what is it that America’s brightest legal minds are obsessing over? For some, it’s Seth Green and his Bored Ape, a tale about ownership in the crypto age that exploded into public this week.

For those not familiar, there’s a series of 10,000 ape N.F.T.s known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club—highly-prized digital collectables living on the Ethereum blockchain. Green, best known for Austin Powers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, purchased one of the apes (#8398), named Fred, and then planned on having this ape star in a new animated series. But then, Green fell victim to a phishing scam. “Days before he’s set to make his world debut, he’s literally kidnapped,” Green said at a recent N.F.T. conference. 

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first Bored Ape to be, um, kidnapped, and the N.F.T. marketplace OpenSea is facing a few negligence lawsuits for not doing more to impede hacks and scams. (OpenSea is pushing for arbitration in those cases and didn’t respond to a request for comment.) Yet this story isn’t about lax security in crypto, but rather about what happens now? Can Green move forward with his new show? The concerned actor/producer is now pleading with the individual who subsequently bought #8398—a collector known as “DarkWing84”—for Fred’s safe return, and some news sites are sending lawyers into a tizzy by dragging in copyright law, a subject that will forever be mangled in the popular press.