Justin Bieber has seemingly lost more than 1.2 million real, fungible U.S. dollars on a single digital image of a sad chimpanzee. The multihyphenate pop sensation and mega-star joined in on the crypto/NFT celeb-endorsement hype train in January 2022, when he purchased one of Yuga Labs’ notoriously shitty-looking Bored Apes.
The Canadian singer bought into the Bored Ape Yacht Club to the tune of $1.29 million (500 ETH) early last year. Even at the time, that purchase price seemed ludicrously high. Bieber dropped 5X more on the ape than its estimated value, according to Page Six. What was an inexplicable decision then, has revealed itself to be tragically stupid in retrospect. The musician’s ape cartoon (#3001) is now valued at less than $59,000, according to the OpenSea listing and as first reported by crypto news sites, Watcher Guru and Cryptonews.
As of writing, BAYC’s #3001 is specifically worth ~$56,293, based on the most recent best offer— that’s greater than a 95% value loss in less than 18 months. Which is, honestly, an incredibly inefficient way to burn money. If Bieber wanted to offload currency so badly, he could’ve just set one million dollars on fire in the comfort and privacy of his own mansion.
Granted, it’s quite possible Bieber, and every other celebrity NFT investor, didn’t spend a dime of their own funds on their ape cartoons. The singer may have been “gifted” his Ape through a convoluted promo tactic with Moonpay, or through undisclosed compensation from Yuga Labs.
Gizmodo reached out to the singer’s representatives for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Popstars aside, it’s a bad time for anyone to be a Bored Ape owner. The crypto creations, arguably the most well-known emblems of the flailing non-fungible token (NFT) trend, have been precipitously sliding in value over the past week. ApeCoin, the digital currency associated with BAYC has been trending steadily downward for months.
Other celebrities who notoriously shilled for BAYC have also seen their purported purchases decline in value. Paris Hilton’s hat-wearing ape is hovering around 20% of the price the heiress spent on it (about $287,000 in January 2022— now around $56,480). Jimmy Fallon’s ape is down to about one-quarter of what it was once valued.
The rich and famous, from Serena Williams to DJ Khaled to Gwyneth Paltrow, were eager to show off their apes in 2021 and early 2022. Many of them engaged in some deeply embarrassing promotional stunts, including social media posts and talk show chats, that were undoubtedly meant to inflate the worth of their own “investments.”
Yet even with all the celeb support, the NFT fad has flailed—failing to achieve stability or consistent growth. Trading volume of the illustrated tokens fell 97% over the first 9 months of 2022. Though the market for encrypted jpeg files had resurged some since then, it didn’t reach nearly its previous highs before contracting again in May 2023.
For the celebrities who used their massive influence to pump up shoddy financial choices, the Bored Ape blunders will probably easily be forgotten. After all, Justin Bieber’s estimated net worth is somewhere between $285 million and $300 million, if sites like CelebrityNetWorth.com and Style Caster are to be believed. Yet, for those who didn’t begin their ventures into digital assets with millions to spare, BAYC’s struggle could be a real bummer.
Regular people have been known to lose big in other versions of the blockchain boom/bust cycle, sometimes disappearing their whole live savings. Hopefully nobody pegged their retirement on a drawing of a stoned chimp, but you never know. Yuga Labs and a laundry list of celebrities (Bieber included) are currently facing a class action lawsuit in a U.S. District Court over their questionable endorsements of BAYC and the front operation MoonPay— which helped funnel Apes to famous people. In response, Yuga Labs has called the lawsuit claims “opportunistic and parasitic,” saying in public statements that the case is “without merit.”