In a Medium post on Friday, the founders of the Bored Ape Yacht Club called Ryder Ripps and Philion’s claims that they are Nazis “bullshit.”
“We’ve become the target of a crazy disinformation campaign accusing us — a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani, and Cuban friends — of being super-secret Nazis. Even though the @ADL, which exists to protect Jewish people around the world from just this sort of hatred and slander, has confirmed this isn’t true, trolls are still spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories online and using them to sell knockoff NFTs (surprise!),” said the group.
This week, Philion posted an hour-long YouTube video on his channel that made a number of claims about the founders’ ties to Nazism. It also asked Twitter users to use the hashtag #BURNBAYC to organize a campaign against the organization. The goal was to get famous Ape owners to get rid of their NFTs.
Ryder Ripps, a US-based artist who has been “investigating substantial ties between BAYC and subversive online Nazi troll culture” since December, has been at the forefront of the recent wave of criticism against BAYC.
In the middle of May, he brought out RR/BAYC, a group of NFTs that looked like the original BAYC NFTs.
Ripps and Philion’s main claim is that the BAYC collection is full of subtle references to Nazi ideas that can only be seen by people who are familiar with online subculture. They use a variety of “evidence” to back up their claims, such as the supposed similarities between the BAYC logo and the Nazi Totenkopf (a skull and crossbones image), the founders’ online names, phrases from family members’ social media profiles, and numbers that may be important to right-wing extremist communities.
In their answer, BAYC explained why they chose the names and logos they did. They sent emails that talked about how to design a logo and gave examples from punk, streetwear, skate, nautical flags, and old yacht club flags, among other things.
“We never wanted to take ourselves too seriously, so the look of the club is ramshackle and divey. Everything about the BAYC was meant to convey a spirit of irreverence and absurdity… Overall, we think it’s crazy that these conspiracy theories have been able to proliferate. It really shows the power that a demented troll on the internet can have,” the founders said.