Yuga Labs Folds to “Woke” Complaints on Black CryptoPunks

Yuga Labs cancels CryptoPunks project amid backlash, sparking debate over creative freedom and the need for diversity in the industry.

CryptoPunks paper nfts are dissapointed with BAYC.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • Yuga Labs recently launched a CryptoPunks collection in collaboration with artist Nina Chanel.
  • The project has drawn criticism from the community. 
  • Yuga Labs has announced plans to cancel the project in response to the backlash.

Yuga Labs, the largest NFT company and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection creator, has often been at the center of controversy, drawing industry backlash for controversial collections and careless representations. After a period of relative quiet, the NFT space giant is again back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

CryptoPunks Collection by Yuga Labs Is “Woke”

On Monday, May 20, 2024, Yuga Labs unveiled its latest venture, a 500-piece NFT collection tagged “Super Punk World.”


Described as “playful as it is profound,” the Super Punk collection is a part of Yuga Labs’ Punk in Residence collaboration with Nina Chanel, which includes hybridized 3D sculptures aimed at blurring “the lines of race & gender.” However, the venture did not receive the warm reception the firm had expected, drawing backlash across the community for being “woke.”

The common response was that the collection was inauthentic and unnecessary, criticized as an attempt to capitalize on contemporary social movements for commercial gain.

X user Viktor Bunin emphasized that the project is best canceled, echoing the broader sentiment across the industry that it defies the integrity of the CryptoPunks collection and fails to deliver the intended message. Other users criticized the arts as unappealing, raising questions about its artistic value.

In response to the backlash, Yuga Labs has issued a statement.

Yuga Labs Pacifies Community with CryptoPunks Drop

In a tweet on Tuesday, May 21, Yuga Labs co-founder Greg Solano reiterated the mission to preserve the CryptoPunks legacy, highlighting their vision to collaborate with world-class artists like Nina Chanel to bridge the gap between web3 and the traditional art world.


When we acquired the collection a couple years ago, we did so with the intention of preserving the legacy of the collection,” he stated. Solano went a step further, adding that in response to the negative feedback, “Yuga will no longer touch punks.”

As for Nina’s works, the co-founder stated that the collection would be pulled, only to be distributed to her supporters, possibly via randomized airdrops.

Our plan is to get Nina’s latest collection into the hands of those who have been supporting her work in this space by making it available only to SuperCoolWorld holders. Current thinking is via randomized airdrop," added Solano.

Yuga Labs’ response and decision to drop the collection raise questions about its commitment to inclusivity and diversity. For a project created to “blur the lines of race and gender,” the firm’s eagerness to cancel the artist’s work and yield to the demands of a vocal minority within the community undermines their stated goals. In addition, while the project aimed to challenge traditional norms and celebrate diversity through artistic vision, Yuga Labs’ decision to succumb to pressure inadvertently reinforces the views of those who oppose progress and social change.

This decision also significantly impacts the project artist, Nina Chanel. Instead of being celebrated for her bold and innovative approach, she finds herself at the center of controversy, worsened by the lack of support from her partners. This highlights the need for prominent figures like Yuga Labs to champion diversity across the industry, adopting more nuanced and thoughtful approaches to controversial topics in art and culture.

DailyCoin reached out to Nina Chanel for comments but has yet to receive feedback. 

On the Flipside

  • In 2022, Yuga Labs was accused of integrating Nazi symbolism, racist representations, and anti-semitic ideas into one of its NFT collections. However, the firm dismissed the claims as “ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
  • The Yuga Labs CryptoPunks debacle highlights the challenges that artists face when their works challenge societal norms and push boundaries.

Why This Matters

Yuga Labs’ response to the backlash of the CryptoPunks project highlights its catering to the voices of bigotry in the community. This unfairly punishes the artist for her creative expression, potentially silencing her artistic voice and affecting future projects.

Discover more about the presence and impact of several female figures across the industry: 
Celebrating Women in Crypto: 6 Iconic Leaders from 2023 

Read more on the shifting sentiment regarding Ethereum ETF as the SEC teases approval: 
Ethereum Drives Crypto Market Surge as ETH ETF Reverses Course

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Grace Abidemi

Grace Abidemi, a cryptocurrency reporter at DailyCoin, covers industry developments and trends. She previously worked as a freelance writer. With a Bachelor's degree in German Language and certifications in marketing and storytelling, Grace creates engaging content. When not working, she's in Nigeria, mastering cooking and canvas painting, and enjoys learning about different cultures and languages.