Crypto group shamed for spending $3m on ‘Dune’ book, mistakenly believing it had acquired copyright to produce NFTs

The spice must not flow for members of an NFT (non-fungible token) group that spent $3 million on a rare book detailing filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic novel Dunes.

The book was donated in a Christie’s Paris sale on November 22 with an estimate of €25,000 to €35,000 and bought more than 100 times its low estimate (€2.6 million, or $3 million including fees) by an anonymous group identified as Spice DAO ( autonomous DAO decentralized organization), whose members mistakenly believed that the purchase granted them the copyright to the book, which they intended to splice and sell as an NFT before burning the physical copy.

The group declared that its goal is to “publish a collection of technically innovative and culturally disruptive NFTs, a first of its kind”, and that burning the book would be an “incredible marketing stunt that could be videotaped”, with the video itself being sold as NFT.

Spice DAO also claimed that it would digitize and release the book to the public, produce an original animated series based on the book for a streaming service, and “support spin-off projects”.

However, the internet was quick to point out that the book is already available online for free., and that purchase does not grant Spice DAO the right to produce works based on its content. An NFT series, for example, would likely be subject to legal action by the actual copyright holders, currently Herbert Limited Partnership.

Around 10 copies of the book are thought to exist, in which the French-Chilean director compiled his concept art and notes for the film. The book itself became widely known after the release of the 2013 documentary Jodorowsky Dune, a film that chronicles the ambitious but unfortunate production, which was abandoned because it was deemed too long and too expensive.

In the mid-1970s, Jodorowsky envisioned a 14-hour film produced in collaboration with Herbert, who released the novel in 1965. Salvador Dalí was famous for starring in the film, charging a fee of $100,000 an hour, with Pink Floyd and others. configured to produce the soundtrack.

Before French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve released his bestselling adaptation of the novel last year, Dunes was adapted by David Lynch in 1984, but his version met with controversial reviews, with Lynch himself once expressing that there was “something wrong with this film”.

Although never realized, Jodorowsky’s plans for Dunes achieved cult status among fans of Herbert’s masterpiece. While Spice DAO may have made a $3 million mistake with its plans for Dunes NFTs, like Dunes The Reverend Mother advises in the novel: “Hope clouds observation.

Christie’s marketed the book as “one of the most legendary artifacts in the history of science fiction cinema and pop culture, a treasured relic of a cursed project that inspired generations”, which “brought together some of the greatest artists of [Jodorowsky’s] Time”. Previous copies, which were distributed to producers and executives in the 1970s, sold for around $25,000.

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