Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden and political activist Daniel Ellsberg have collaborated on a piece of Ethereum NFT-based artwork, which will be auctioned to help fund their respective causes via a new livestreamed interactive show called PleasrHouse from Web3 collective PleasrDAO.
“[PleasrDAO] got to know Snowden and the Freedom of the Press Foundation when we acquired Snowden’s ‘Stay Free’ NFT,” PleasrDAO Head of Marketing Chris Eberle told Decrypt. “It’s an amazing piece, and the funds raised from the auction funded a year-plus of Freedom of the Press Foundation operating costs.”
As Eberle explains, Snowden and Ellsberg—both board members of the Foundation—came up with the idea to co-create a piece paying tribute to Ellsberg and his release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, titled “Wouldn’t You Go to Prison to Help End This War?”
The first episode of PleasrHouse this Thursday, January 12 will center on the Ethereum NFT and will feature an interview with Ellsberg and Snowden, the artwork auction, and clips from a PleasrDAO-produced documentary.
“We had been working on a Web3 auction house, and this piece ([with] these whistleblowers) was a perfect fit for the inaugural episode,” Eberle said.
Launched in March 2021 and named in honor of digital artist Emily “pplpleasr” Yang, PleasrDAO was initially formed to buy an NFT by the famed digital artist. The following month, PleasrDAO won the auction of a piece of NFT artwork created by Snowden with a winning bid of $5.4 million worth of ETH. At the time, PleasrDAO said that it bid on the NFT to support the concept of transparency, saying that Snowden changed the rules of the game for that particular ideal.
In October 2021, PleasrDAO bought the Wu-Tang Clan’s one-of-a-kind 2015 album “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” for $4 million. The album was previously owned by infamous pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli and was confiscated by the United States government after Shkreli’s conviction for securities fraud.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, members of PleasrDAO came together to form Ukraine DAO, which raised millions in cryptocurrency to send to the Ukrainian government and NGOs operating in the area.
PleasrDAO describes PleasrHouse as a new experiment created to disrupt the shared experience of traditional live art auctions. While the first show centers around the work of activists and whistleblowers, the DAO says that viewers can expect a wide range of online experiences in future entries.
“PleasrHouse is a livestreaming late-night talk show that culminates in a high-profile art auction,” Eberle said. “Imagine the educational elements of a PBS documentary, the entertaining bits of SNL, the experimental energy of Adult Swim, the intimacy of a podcast interview, and the excitement/fanfare/sophistication of a Sotheby’s live auction.”
Wanting to bring more spectacle to the auction experience, Eberle says PleasrHouse aims to provide an entertaining and accessible live experience that educates viewers about art, the internet, society, and culture through interviews, Q&As, and other original content.
PleasrDAO says proceeds from the sale of “Wouldn’t You Go to Prison to Help End This War?” will be split between the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Daniel Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy.
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