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Wealthy owners cashing in on ApeCoin are the perfect example of why Web3 financiers are bashing NFTs

Crypto is often touted as the great equalizer, a more egalitarian way to invest and buy things. But the launch of Bored Ape Yacht Club-linked ApeCoin cryptocurrency last week showed something different: the biggest winners were big companies and people who are already heavily invested in the crypto space.

Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, created by Yuga Labs that feature apes with varying characteristics like different fur color, accessories, or background color. Last week, a decentralized autonomous organization called ApeCoin DAO released ApeCoin crypto tokens bearing the Bored Ape Yacht Club logo.

People can now buy ApeCoins on crypto exchanges like Binance and Coinbase. ApeCoins, which were trading up 24% at $12.32 on Tuesday, hit a high of $17.75 the day after the crypto launched, giving some investors a window to make a net profit, depending on their timing. The catch: Those who already owned Bored Apes benefited the most.

Each Bored Ape owner received 10,904 “free” tokens, worth around $111,904 on Tuesday, and each Mutant Ape owner received 2,042 tokens, worth around $21,971, according to the ApeCoin website. And although the entire collection contains 10,000 NFTs, around 6,362 wallets have them. According to data from DappRadar, 532 wallets have more than two Bored Apes, and at least five wallets have more than 50 Bored Apes.

Of the 1 billion tokens created this week (some of which are locked, to be released later), existing holders of Bored Ape and Mutant Ape received 15%, or 150 million tokens, with a cumulative value of 1, $8 billion on Tuesday. Andreessen Horowitz, Animoca Brands and other partners who helped launch ApeCoin received 14% of the total tokens airdropped, worth around $1.7 billion on Tuesday.

Bored Ape NFTs are becoming synonymous with crypto wealth and exclusivity, so much so that Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin specifically called them out in a recent interview with Timeduring which he said the NFT speculation involved “a lot of people just buying yachts and Lambos”.

“[U]Ultimately, the point of crypto isn’t to play games with pictures of million dollar monkeys, it’s to do things that produce meaningful effects in the real world,” he said. he declared.

A Yuga Labs spokesperson said in a statement to Fortune that ApeCoin is a governance and utility token and that it made sense to airdrop the tokens into the community to ensure that the currency, through its DAO, is controlled by the community.

“The Bored Ape Yacht Club was started less than a year ago, and the cost to make a Bored Ape was around $220. Many BAYC members are teachers, writers, and everyday people. “Wrote the spokesperson in a press release.

Bored Apes is already worth a minimum of 101 Ether, or around $303,960, according to NFT exchange OpenSea. And thanks to the airdrop, existing Bored Ape NFT owners essentially got an asset potentially worth tens of thousands to millions of dollars for free, minus gas fees charged by the Ethereum network.

A lot owned by a few

Like more traditional economies, wealth in the crypto space is often consolidated within a small group of players.

Last December, the the wall street journal reported that 0.01% of Bitcoin holders controlled 27% of the 19 million tokens in circulation.

The trend extends to NFTs.

When NFTs entered the mainstream last year, particularly after Beeple sold an NFT artwork for $69 million, prices for the most famous NFT collections skyrocketed.

Early adopters who quickly hit some early NFTs, or purchased multiple NFTs when they were relatively cheap, saw their investments increase dramatically. For a short time in April 2021, Bored Ape NFTs could be minted for 0.08 Ether, or around $235 at the time. Today, their value is up 100,000% based on the Bored Ape minimum price of $277,000.

But as the prices of the top 10 NFTs soar into the six figures and beyond, digital collectibles are now out of reach for the common investor. On Tuesday, the lowest prices for an NFT in the top five collections, according to CoinMarketCap, were in the range of tens of thousands of dollars or more. This includes Bored Apes and Mutant Apes, as well as the Azuki and CryptoPunks collections.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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