A crypto group spent $3 million on a ‘Dune’ book thinking it would get the rights to the story


If fear is the mind killer, then stupidity must be the wallet killer. Just ask the crypto brothers who made a three million dollar mistake by not reading the fine print.

An anonymous NFT group called Spice DAO (Decentralized Anonymous Organization) made waves when it triumphantly tweeted about its acquisition of a rare art book: Jodorowsky Dunethe guide to an ambitious but ill-fated film adaptation by Frank Herbert dune. These Spiceheads had big plans to convert the book to NFT, burn the physical copy, and adapt the story into an animated series. There’s just one problem: they didn’t know that buying it didn’t mean they actually owned the copyright to dune. All they have is a very, very expensive book.

Before we get too deep into this story of crypto madness, a bit of a primer on the book: In 1974 director Alexander Jodorowsky decided to make a film adaptation of dune. Two years into the process, the project was killed due to a lack of funding, but not before it became a cinematic legend. Jodorowsky imagined the film at two o’clock, with a score by Pink Floyd; meanwhile, Salvador Dalí signed on to play Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino, though his exorbitant salary may have been the project’s kiss of death. Determined to become the highest paid actor in history, Dalí demanded to be paid $100,000 per minute of screen time. Orson Welles was set to play the villainous Baron Harkonnen, and even Mick Jagger signed on for an unspecified role. Ironically, the unmade film was later made into a documentary in 2014.

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Before the project was finally canned, Jodorowsky present studio executives with a comprehensive concept art book, which included sets, character designs and a storyboard of the entire film drawn by Moebius, the legendary French cartoonist. It is estimated that between ten and twenty copies of Jodorowsky Dune still exist in the wild; periodically they come up for auction, fetching somewhere around $25,000. Last November, one of these copies has climbed at auction at Christie’s, where appraisers expected it to sell for around $40,000.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when Spice DAO stepped in with an offer that went down well, way above the asking price. Spice DAO paid more than a hundred times the modest estimate, winning the book for $3 million. According to a survey by BuzzFeed Newsthe money was crowdfunded dune-cryptocurrency enthusiasts Spice DAO, who have promised to vote on the future of the book. Spice DAO declared that its goal was “to release a collection of NFTs that are technically innovative and culturally disruptive”. Burning the book would be “an incredible marketing stunt that could be videotaped”; the video itself would then be sold as NFT. (Looks like these crypto bros got too much spice, right?)

When Spice DAO touted their purchase on Twitter, the internet was quick to set them straight. Purchase Jodorowsky Dune does not confer the copyright necessary to produce Jodorowsky’s vision; he only confers a very old and very expensive book. Spice DAO also intended to make the book public, which is a lofty goal – or it would be, if the book wasn’t already free and available on the Internet by Steve Jobs. Ultimately, Spice DAO made a very costly mistake, illustrating how some crypto brethren with millions to burn don’t even know what they’re buying.

But Spice DAO doesn’t want to hear it. In a post on Medium after the blowback, the group provided an update on its master plan: “After two months of outreach, conversations with former business partners and consultations with legal counsel, we were unable to reach an agreement with any of the rights holders involved in the creation of the content of the storyboards book collected from Jodorowsky DuneSounds like a dead end, right? But Spice DAO won’t be shut down. According to the post, they’re having “a whirlwind week of meetings with industry professionals,” including Drake’s attorney, a producer animation on Kill Billa writer on Netflix love death and robots, three Los Angeles animation studios, a science fiction publisher, and “Roble Ridge Productions, which has relationships with big-name Hollywood actors.” Spice and meetings must flow.

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According to trademark attorney Kirstey Stewart, Spice DAO is about to have a rude awakening every time they come to their senses. As Stewart said The Guardian“In order to produce or license derivative works as an animated series, Spice DOA would have to obtain licenses from the Herbert Estate, as well as potentially Jodorowsky (and any other authors such as Michel Seydoux) if the adaptation was based on the Similar Much like buying a Batman comic doesn’t give you inherent rights to produce a new Batman movie, buying that director’s bible doesn’t give Spice DOA any inherent rights to produce new material.

    In dune, Herbert envisions a world without computers; according to tradition, “thinking machines” were once humanity’s greatest adversary. Maybe Herbert was onto something there?

    UPDATE: Spice DAO would like us all to know that we misunderstood them. In a new report to The edgethe group aims to clarify its objectives and set the record straight, insisting that it does not seek to make dunebut rather a tribute for dune. “Dude, we don’t use Dunes IPs [intellectual property] to make the animated movie,” group founder Soban Saqib told a member in a chat room in December. Spice DAO has since posted an FAQ stating that Jodorowsky Dune and the animated series have “nothing to do with each other”; the latter is not an adaptation of the work of Jodorowsky or Herbert, but rather something new, with dune-y vibrations.

    In early February, Spice DAO held a vote to determine what this new project should be, allowing members to throw their cryptocurrencies behind any terrain they choose (the group trades in $SPICE, naturally). The winning pitch, called Dolkorothcame from a four-person team known as the Lorecrafter’s Group. Dolkoroth concerns the last member of a priesthood whose members are implanted with batteries powering starships; we meet him as he teams up with a young “space barbarian” to search for a long deserted Earth, convinced that he will find God there. Ring dunethere enough for you? Last week, Spice DAO announced that they were in “advanced negotiations with a premier Los Angeles animation studio and the writer of a hit Netflix show.” In early March, the group plans to vote on a potential Dolkoroth OK.

    As for the book itself? At this time, Spice DAO has not obtained the necessary approvals to publish the book online in its entirety, although they want to be very clear that they will. do not burn the book. Although things have stalled, the plan to bring Jodorowsky Dune to the masses remains the overriding concern for many members of the group. One member, Tyler Mincey, recounts The edge“It’s good that this group of people who came together for one main purpose ended up with more resources pooled together to do other projects like an anime series, but we would have to achieve that main purpose first. “

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