Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO in the process of buying Twitter, appeared to change his profile picture on the social network to a composite image featuring multiple Bored Ape Yacht Club non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday morning, Musk's Twitter avatar featured a picture of dozens of Bored Apes, with Ape 5809 in the centre.
Shortly after Musk made the change, Michael Bouhanna, a contemporary art specialist at auction house Sotheby’s, took to Twitter to call him out for using the image. Bouhanna said he created the picture for Sotheby's $24 million sale of 101 Bored Apes in September, which included Ape 5809.
Musk, who has more than 90 million followers on Twitter, later appeared to joke about the nature of NFTs’ supposed uniqueness, posting “I dunno … seems kinda fungible.”
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the most popular NFT collections, with celebrities from Serena Williams to Jimmy Fallon and Snoop Dogg picking up a digital simian since the project’s launch last year. The wallet holding Ape 5809 also owns 41 other NFTs, according to NFT marketplace Opensea.
Since the Tesla CEO’s $44 billion bid to take Twitter private was accepted there has been debate over what impact Musk will have on the social network,. While some commentators have reacted with dismay, others have suggested that Musk might have a positive impact as he looks to address issues like spam bots.
The price of apecoin, a token launched by Bored Ape creator Yuga Labs, surged following Musk’s profile pic switch, rising 20% to $17.64 at 6:55 a.m. ET, according to Coinbase data. It later gave up almost all of those gains.
Yuga Labs came under scrutiny during the weekend after its metaverse project, The Otherside, sold out all 55,000 Otherdeed land NFTs after three hours on Saturday. The mint resulted in a gas war, where Ethereum users clamor to purchase NFTs at the same time and outbit each other using the network's transaction fees.
Separately, a UK parliamentary committee on Wednesday invited Musk to speak about his proposed takeover of Twitter. Julian Knight, head of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, asked the billionaire to take questions from the cross-party group about his plans to roll out verification for all users on the platform, which Knight said echoes the committee’s own proposals.