A New York man has been arrested for allegedly destroying items at a Gucci outlet in Chicago. According to local news publication CWB Chicago, Todd Fine, 42, allegedly entered the luxury retail store and “knocked purses and bags on the floor,” causing a reported US$16,000 in damages.
Todd Fine’s lawyer, Tressa Palcheck, says his actions were “part of a First Amendment demonstration against Gucci’s partnership with a crypto organisation which has facism ties.”
A browse through Fine’s Twitter account shows that the “crypto organisation” his lawyer referred to could possibly be Yuga Labs, which owns the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
Bored Ape Yacht Club And Alleged Nazi References
Bored Ape Yacht Club, one of the most recognisable NFT collections around, has long struggled with allegations of racism and fascism. The allegations accuse BAYC of embedding racist and Nazi imagery within its artwork.
Examples of the allegations include: that the BAYC logo looks similar to the Nazi Totenkopf emblem, and that BAYC’s parent company Yuga Labs, is a reference to Kali Yuga, a popular element of alt-right ideology.
A dedicated website, Gordongoner, breaks down the alleged Nazi dog whistles in extreme detail.
One of the biggest proponents of the allegations is New York artist Ryder Ripps, who has worked with big names including Kanye West and Grimes and was engaged to Azealia Banks. Ryder Ripps has said in a January 2022 interview: “As a professional artist, designer and Jewish person, I’ve known about racist images for a long time. I felt compelled to speak up because it’s the right thing to do and felt it was deserving of a larger dialogue.”
February this year, before co-founder Wylie Aronow went on a “leave of absence” due to a heart condition, he penned a letter debunking the allegations one by one.
“I’m never going to be able to let this go and heal until I set the record straight,” he wrote.
“Our logic was that any sane human being would have accepted the fact that I’m Jewish by heritage and that my co-founders are all children of immigrants, and that should have been enough evidence that we weren’t secret Neo-Nazis. How wrong we were!” Aronow said.
In response to Ripps, BAYC’s founders wrote a Medium blog post in June 2022 slamming Ripps as a “demented troll”.
Ripps was sued by Yuga Labs in June 2022 for trademark infringement, but both parties settled the lawsuit in February this year. Influential YouTubers such as Ethan Klein and Philion also discussed this topic in the past.
Before his arrest, Fine shared a video on Twitter of him protesting outside a Gucci store.
“For the past three… eight months I’ve been warning the world through my research, as well as the lawsuit of Ryder Ripps that Yuga Labs is a fascist company rooted in the traditionalism of Julius Evola,” he alleged in the clip.
“I’m going to go to every single Gucci store in the United States, in this city… [I’m going to] take their merchandise and put it on the ground, which is where it belongs,”
Gucci’s latest partnership with Yuga Labs was announced on March 27. Both brands inked an agreement to “continue to explore the metaverse”:
Gucci and Yuga Labs last collaborated in March 2022, where the designer brand released an NFT collection with digital artist Wagmi San.
Todd Fine previously contributed an op-ed piece about BAYC’s Neo-Nazi ties to crypto publication CoinDesk, which was taken down on January 31 this year.
“The column by a first-time external contributor was based on inflammatory, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and as such never should have been published. Accordingly, the content has been removed.” wrote CoinDesk’s Editor-In-Chief.
At the time of writing, Fine says he has been released on bond with the help of some individuals in the NFT community.