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Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum (ETH)
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03 Dec 2021

The Free Ross movement is taking a leaf out of ConstitutionDAO’s book

Last month, crypto anons collectively pledged $47 million in order to buy an early, rare copy of the U.S. Constitution. And if it wasn’t for Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, the plan — which was brought together and executed in only a week — likely would have worked.

Now it seems the same strategy is being applied to raise funds for the Free Ross movement, and if it’s similarly effective, it could fund a warchest.

The Free Ross NFT sale

Ross Ulbricht was the founder of the Silk Road marketplace, a place where users could buy drugs online and one of the first major use-cases of cryptocurrencies. In 2013, Ulbricht was arrested and, in 2015, he was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years, without any chance of parole.

During his time in prison, his mother Lyn Ulbricht and family friends have been actively campaigning to release him. A petition for him to receive clemency has received 456,000 signatures. And during this time, they have maintained a Twitter account where they share his notes from prison.

The latest fundraising idea is an NFT sale. The Free Ross organization is selling a collection of his writings, ten pieces of his artwork and an animation by NFT artist Levitate as a single NFT. The proceeds from the sale will go to Free Ross and supporting other prisoners along with their families.

[caption id="attachment_126226" align="alignnone" width="2004"] 'Uncageable' by Ross Ulbricht. Image: Free Ross.[/caption]

“As with everything I do, my mother and fiancée were closely involved with all that went into getting this NFT ready for you. This is their moment as it is mine,” tweeted Ulbricht’s account.

So far, the NFT auction, which is taking place on NFT marketplace SuperRare, has raised 261 ETH, worth $1.2 million. Bidders include such NFT holders as the person who owns CryptoPunk 6529 (who operates pseudonymously under the Punk’s identity). The auction still has more than five days to go. 

DAOifying the sale

Those bidding on the Free Ross NFT have a new bidder to contend with. PleasrDAO, a collective of NFT investors and artists, has launched a DAO that anyone can join with the sole purpose of bidding on the NFT.

DAO stands for a decentralized autonomous organization. The idea is that token holders can vote on proposals and control actions the DAO makes as a group. It’s a mix of crowdfunding and the appearance of running a loosely held together company. 

So far, the DAO has raised 826 ETH ($3.8 million), which is far higher than the current highest bid. Anyone can contribute to the fundraise by sending ETH to its wallet (which is collectively managed by members of PleasrDAO and friends of Ross Ulbricht).

If the DAO’s bid is successful, the plan is to fractionalize the NFT into tokens and distribute them to those who funded the bid. The idea is that token holders will have partial ownership over the NFT. Any funds leftover will be placed into the DAO’s treasury, which will be controlled by token holders.

The DAO's approach differs from previous bids in that it's not a winner-takes-all play. Rather than one person outbidding the rest, members group together and take collective ownership over the artifact —which in part explains why DAOs are finding it relatively easy to raise huge sums of money for bidding on items.

Right now, it’s all in good spirits with only one DAO per auction — but perhaps in the future, we could see DAOs bidding against one another in giant bidding wars, with individuals simply left out in the cold.

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