Jimmy Fallon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Justin Bieber, Madonna, and other celebrities who spent a fairly embarrassing chunk of the last few years trying to convince fans that ugly pictures of monkeys were both a) cool and b) a lucrative investment opportunity, are now getting hit with a lawsuit. Specifically—and per THR—a number of famouses have found themselves defendants in a new suit this week that accuses at least some of them of, among other things, failing to disclose a financial stake in a company that facilitates purchases of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, even as they were publicly promoting the brand.
Said suit is being put forward by Adonis Real and Adam Titcher, two Ape buyers who lost money on their purchases, and who are hoping to develop a class-action suit against all involved. Their targets include BAYC parent company Yuga Labs, a number of celebrity promoters who endorsed the brand (Paris Hilton, Diplo, Post Malone, Snoop Dogg, Stephen Curry, Kevin Hart, DJ Khaled, and more are also named as “Promoter Defendants”), and well known music industry manager Guy Oseary, who’s being accused of setting up low-key payments through a company called Moonpay (which many of the named celebs are purportedly investors in) to pay them for their endorsements.
Much of the lawsuit’s focus rests on Oseary, the long-time manager for Madonna (as well as U2, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more), who’s referred to in the legal docs as “the Fifth Ape.” (Alongside the four founders of Yuga Labs, all also defendants.) Oseary is accused of leveraging his considerable network of contacts—the lawsuit specifically calls out his help in Fallon booking U2 in the first days of the host’s tenure on The Tonight Show—to rope in celebrity investors and promoters to build up the Bored Ape brand.
Highlighting a November 2021 Tonight Show interview with web artist Matt “Beeple” Winkelmann (who’s allegedly in business with Oseary, and also a named defendant in the suit), the lawsuit accuses Fallon of being paid to promote the brand when he talked about getting his own ugly monkey picture through Moonpay, writing that, “Fallon did not disclose that he had a financial interest in MoonPay or that he was likewise financially interested, directly or indirectly, in the increased saleand popularity of Yuga securities.” The lawsuit goes on to allegedly detail a number of other transactions in which celebrities appear to have been paid, either in cryptocurrency or NFTs, in exchange for their endorsements.
A Yuga Labs spokesperson responded to the suit this week, calling the claims “Opportunistic and parasitic. We strongly believe that they are without merit, and look forward to proving as much.” This isn’t the first celebrity-focused NFT/crypto lawsuit to crop up in recent months, as the entire market continues to rest comfortably in the toilet. (Trading of the Bored Ape NFTs has reportedly dropped by 93 percent since its launch.) A number of paid promoters (including Larry David) were recently named as defendants in a suit for promoting crypto exchange FTX.
You can read the full text of the Bored Ape suit over at THR.