How Bored Ape NFT Jenkins the Valet Became a Star With Support From Hollywood


Before Jenkins was named, he was sold.

Prior to that, he existed on an auction site as a monkey with an overbite, pitcher ears, hat, vest, and number: 1798.

He was an unknown avatar in a collection of 10,000 cartoon monkey brothers called the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

It was in May 2021.

Monkey number 1798 has been given a name and a story: Jenkins the Jack(Provided: BAYC)

A Toronto man with a background in creative writing once took him off the auction house list for about half an Ethereum coin, which at the time was worth around C $ 1,300 ( $ 1,400).

Specifically, the man purchased the unique crypto digital asset (called an NFT or non-fungible token) which singularly represented the image and which conferred ownership beyond that man (or someone else) simply by right clicking and saving a copy to their hard drive. to drive.

“We knew we had the valet. He just looks like a valet,” says the man, posing as Jenkins on that Zoom call (video off).

And that’s how Jenkins was born.

Seven months later, Jenkins has a Hollywood agent, a devoted fan club, and the ear of a famous writer who penned the Monkey’s “eye-opening” memoir.

The writer is Neil Strauss, the bestselling author of The Game, the 2005 book that popularized the term “pick-up artist”.

That’s right: Neil Strauss is writing the memoir of a fictional comic book monkey.

How did the world get there?

And what does that say about the future of NFTs?

The boom, bust and boom of NFTs

Go back to early 2021 and think back to a simpler age when most people hadn’t heard of DFTs.

Then, in February, the boom started.

A series of works of art sold for millions of dollars in the form of NFT.

NFT digital artwork.
In March, the artist known as Beeple sold an NFT digital collage for $ 70 million ($ 90 million).(Christie’s via AP)

It started a gold rush, and very soon people realized that gold was lying around waiting to be picked up.

To make money with NFTs, you don’t necessarily have to be an artist. Any old meme could be “tokenized” and sold to willing buyers.

Or you can just symbolize other people’s art and sell it whether or not the artist has given their consent.

And why stop at art? You can symbolize a single tweet (sold for $ 2.9 million or $ 4 million) or the audio of a far-away man (sold for $ 85 or $ 120).

It was a bubble of hype and speculation that would soon burst: In May, the value of NFT trades fell 90%.

This could have sounded the death knell for crypto tokens, which had now become synonymous with cynical “pump and dump” financial speculation.

But NFTs have not disappeared. They continued. To evolve. Spread art and sports collectibles to new industries namely games and the nebulous world of entertainment including the characters who inhabit our movies, TV shows and other creative spinoffs.

Building Disney from scratch

One of the innovations was to give NFT holders commercial use rights, which meant that a person who owned a particular NFT character could earn money by selling prints, t-shirts, etc.

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It’s a bit like Disney selling an R2D2 figure from Star Wars which also gives the owner the right to sell R2D2 merchandise.

The big difference is that the Star Wars universe has already been imagined and marketed (and therefore worth a lot of money), while the NFT characters are brand new and relatively unknown.

Owning commercial rights is a strong incentive for NFT owners to expand the imaginative universe in which they have joined.

Indeed, these owners can try to build the next Disney.

And that is exactly what is happening.

One of the first NFT collections to offer to commercial rights owners was the Bored Apes Yacht Club (BAYC) – that line of 10,000 cartoon monkeys.

BAYC launched in April 2021, and in May, “Jenkins the Valet” (aka monkey number 1798, aka this man in Toronto) tweeted its story.

“I’ve learned that the most important skill for a valet at #BAYC is discretion,” Jenkins tweeted.

“I excelled at my job and never said a word of what I saw. Now there is so much intrigue around BAYC that I decided to go wrong and tell the stories. of the most fascinating monkeys I have worked for. “

Jenkins launches NFT series, makes bank

By August, Jenkins the Valet had won over $ 1 million.

Its creators (they expanded to a team of two) were selling access to the “writers room” that created Jenkins’ story.

This included the ability to vote on details and plot points that would be included in the revealing memoir written by Neil Strauss.

Reading in a box "What is the most important rule within the club" and list the possible answers
A screenshot of the interior of the Jenkins the Valet Writers’ Room.(Provided: Jenkins the Servant)

Of course, access required having an NFT “key” which was sold by Jenkins.

So now the NFT character had his own NFTs.

“The first night we ditched NFTs, we made 480 Ethereum, which at the time I believe was around $ 1.2 million,” Jenkins said.

And because they’re NFT, the manufacturer (Jenkins) gets a share every time they’re resold.

A single NFT key giving premier access to the Writers’ Room has sold for up to US $ 125,000 ($ 175,000)

“Which basically ensures that your character will be written into the book by name,” says Jenkins’ best friend SAFA.

SAFA is the other person on the Jenkins team, and also on the call (video off).

In the BAYC universe, her avatar is Jenkins’ best friend.

A cartoon monkey in a striped shirt and 3d glasses
Jenkins’ best friend, SAFA.(Provided: BAYC)

“If any of our NFT holders have a BAYC avatar, they may in fact allow that IP to appear in the book for various purposes.

“And it’s that license that allows them to earn a percentage of the book’s profits.”

It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward. To use the Star Wars analogy, it’s as if the owner of the commercial rights to R2D2 then grants a license for the use of the R2D2 character in a spinoff TV series.

The character license effectively expands the imaginative universe of BAYC and Jenkins the Valet, making that character more visible, which means the NFT is worth even more.

“The richness, the characters and the lore around the NFT communities that are appearing are really, really interesting,” said SAFA, who is in New York City.

“It’s like breeding ground for creatives. It will be something very common in the future.”

Jenkins goes to Hollywood

In September, a major Hollywood talent agency signed Jenkins the Valet.

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CAA, which represents famous Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and others, will work with the four-month-old NFT monkey avatar on opportunities in film, television, podcasting and book publishing. .

“What excites us the most is that they also represent producers, writers and directors,” SAFA said.

Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon have flocked to BAYC.

By November, when they made the cover of Rolling Stone, BAYC avatar tokens had generated around $ 1 billion ($ 1.4 billion).

In mid-November, Universal signed Kingship, a group of four BAYC virtual avatars who have yet to release any music.

It’s a bit like Gorillaz, the virtual band created by Blur’s Damon Albarn in the late 90s, except this one will be mostly backstory.

“Before you even hear a single note, you’ll know what they’re eating for breakfast,” the record label founder said at the launch of Kingship.

Four cartoon monkeys each with distinctive features
Royalty may not be able to hold an instrument, but they can certainly strike a pose.(Provided: Universal)

If that sounds awful, then sorry, but expect to see all kinds of content being promoted by Kingship in 2022.

Jenkins’ memoir, meanwhile, will be released around March or April.

Other storytelling projects generated by the BAYC community have emerged.

SAFA and Jenkins see these groups as a counterweight to the more cynical use of NFTs for pure financial speculation.

“It was supposed to be anything but a lucrative adventure,” Jenkins says.

A grid of many cartoon faces each with distinctive features
In August, Hollywood talent agency UTA signed the popular CryptoPunks (pictured), Meebits and Autoglyphs NFT collections.(Provided: UTA)

SAFA agrees. It’s not about the money.

“The truth is, any NFT could go zero tomorrow,” he says.

“And if so, what do you have left?” Is it the community? Is it useful? Is it the fun you have along the way?

“I think we have all of these things. We have the most amazing, dedicated group of people who just want to write a book together.

“I think it’s really cool.”

About Shelley Hales

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