NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Sells NFT for $5.4M

Proceeds from the auction are going to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

AccessTimeIconApr 16, 2021 at 8:51 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:42 p.m. UTC

A non-fungible token (NFT) depicting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden just sold at auction for $5.44 million, or 2,224 ETH, after a flurry of bids in the sale’s final minutes. 

It was not immediately clear who won the prize but the person went by the username @PleasrDAO on OpenSea and on the Foundation platform, where the auction was held.

The sale makes “Stay Free” one of the single-most expensive NFTs to go at auction, behind Beeple’s $69 million magnum opus and a pair of CryptoPunks. Though many artists and athletes have emerged from the NFT craze with millions in total dollars, few have achieved such hauls with a single piece. 

Snowden has said he will donate all of the funds to the Freedom of the Press Foundation. (He sits on the non-profit's board of directors.)

The former CIA contractor, who has been in self-imposed exile in Russia since exposing the NSA’s sweeping domestic surveillance program in 2013, alluded to that leak in the NFT. 

The piece, based on a photo by visual artist Platon, depicts a shaded motif of his face set against court documents linked to the exposé. He “signed” the visual portrait with his pen-to-paper John Hancock. The work was billed as his only NFT though future plans are unclear.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.

Read more about