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.