LeBron James now has his own RTFKT (pronounced Artifact) CloneX NFT, thanks to a surprising move by the RTFKT team. In an action that has created quite a controversy on social media, it appears the new Lebron James is a clone of an existing NFT, which has had its metadata changed to make a unique 1/1 NFT. While some people see this as a creative move that opens up huge possibilities, others see it as harmful and a risk to the future of decentralization.
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RTFKT is an influential part of the NFT ecosystem
One of the most significant moments of the 2021 NFT bull run was Nike acquiring the popular NFT company RTFKT. Known for creating NFT avatars, virtual sneakers, fashion, and collectibles for the metaverse, it was a massive moment for the NFT space. Many consider it a pivotal moment in gaining recognition as a legitimate industry.
Notably, RTFKT was one of the first digital sneakers NFT collections. As the news of the LeBron James NFT emerges, many believe he will soon join the RTFKT.
Nike is making huge moves in web3
Since the acquisition, Nike, through RTFKT, has been working hard to build its presence in the web3 world. Amongst the various popular RTFKT collections, CloneX is extremely popular. This collection of 20,000 avatars collaborates with world-famous contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.
With a floor price of 6 ETH and over 220 thousand ETH volume, RTFKT is an influential collection in the NFT space, which many projects will emulate in the hopes of recreating that success.
Is RTFKT changing the metadata of its NFTs with Lebron James 1/1?
Basically, yes. In a Twitter thread, Samuel Cardillo, CTO of RTKFT, explained how and why they had decided to allow metadata changes. He said, “I am happy to announce that we have migrated some CloneX metadata on-chain. At this time, only DNA & if it is a Murakami Drip (or not) is on-chain, but more metadata will be set post-Ethereum Merge.”
So what does that mean? The NFT (CloneX #7968) has changed its data, and it now resembles LeBron James. RTFKT used an NFT from its CloneX collection and changed the metadata to create a 1/1 LeBron James NFT. Importantly, both the original NFT and the new LeBron NFT exist independently. One currently resides on DappRadar, and the other on OpenSea.
The new Lebron James NFT has some unique features. This includes a crown with “The Chosen 1” inscribed on it. Additionally, the ‘mouth’ trait on OpenSea reads LBJ Beard.
For some, this is groundbreaking and offers new opportunities, but others think it is unethical and goes against the ideals of NFT creation.
Positive response to the LeBron RTFKT NFT metadata change
Naturally, NFT holders and members of the RTFKT community are a little more positive about the metadata changes.
@NinjaTVFILM, who has an RTFKT Twitter pfp, tweeted, “The fact that @RTFKT is setting a precedent to change metadata to include traits for all-time great sports LEGENDS is a HUGE trait upgrade not to be faded & King LeBron is just the beginning. The future is limitless with @Nike + official sports Legends/athletes + Clone X Traits.”
Is the LeBron James RTFKT NFT good for the NFT space?
One major criticism of the move by RTFKT is that the metadata is not frozen. Essentially this means RTFKT can change any NFT in the CloneX collection. Where does it stop if they can change the metadata overnight to resemble LeBron James?
CloneX #7968, which was used to create the LeBron James NFT, could become more valuable due to the corresponding NFT. However, it might also decrease in value, as the LeBron NFT is seen as the ‘genuine’ NFT. Furthermore, it could cause damage to the ecosystem of the collection.
Popular NFT Twitter member @Degentraland had this to say about the situation, “Changing a collection’s metadata almost a year after launch sets a horrible precedent. Are any assets actually rare if the company can clone your exact traits? Do we really own anything if metadata is stored off-chain? “But, he also added, “That said… I’m down to make an exception for LeBron.”
While some are happy for superstars like LeBron James, not everyone is as universally loved. Will this open up a market for 1/1 celebrity CloneX NFTs? This method creates more 1/1 NFTs and it might also lower the value of other 1/1’s.
Measures in place to prevent abuse of metadata changes
In the thread by Samuel Cardillo, he also announced security measures to make sure it is not easy to change the traits on these NFTs. He stated, “Because CloneX is a living project, we’ve put a way for the owner to “unlock the state” of its CloneX. Meaning that only when you, as the owner of a specific Clone, allow us to we can modify it – fixing metadata or upgrading for future.”
This means that there is some level of personal safety in the metadata changes for CloneX. However, for those who believe in true decentralization, it sets a ‘horrible precedent’.
In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the market responds to both the LeBron James NFT and the original RFKT CloneX NFT.