Matt Furie, the artist and original creator of the iconic Pepe meme, was asked on Twitter Spaces about trending cryptocurrency Pepecoin (PEPE) — but claimed it was all new to him.
“Actually, this is the first I’ve heard of it,” Furie quipped on Monday. “What is Pepecoin?”
Furie was on Twitter’s live chat room feature to discuss the launch of a new NFT art collection called Zogs. When admitting he didn’t know anything about Pepecoin, he added that he’s instead a Dogecoin maximalist.
“I’ve heard of Ethereum and I’ve heard of Bitcoin and I’ve heard of Dogecoin — is it a bit like that?” Furie asked. “I’m a Dogecoin maxi,” he said, rather tongue-in-cheek.
Pepecoin has risen to popularity in recent weeks, rising in value by almost 5,000,000%. The latest memecoin craze has produced several millionaires in the blink of an eye. However, tokens are down nearly 55% from a Friday peak of $0.0000042 at press time, with some analysts suggesting the dip has been powered by early adopters cashing out.
Matt Furie could ask Pepecoin creators for compensation
It’s unclear whether Furie was joking when he admitted to not knowing about Pepecoin — but the artist has distanced himself from his popular creation in the past.
The character Pepe appeared for the first time in Furie’s comic Boy’s Club. It has since then been adopted and appropriated as a meme online and by various distinct political groups, including protesters in Hong Kong and the far-right in the US.
Furie killed off his green character in 2017, following his disappointment that his character was being popularly attributed to the far-right. The artist successfully removed images of Pepe from the far-right website The Daily Stormer.
In 2019, Furie was also awarded $15,000 in damages by a US court in a suit against Infowars and Alex Jones, for using Pepe the Frog in Infowars’ merchandise. Furie told the press he only pursued legal action because he didn’t want his art to be used in hateful propaganda.
The artist also has a history of clamping down on the use of Pepe in NFTs. OpenSea was forced to remove Sad Frogs District — a project of 7,000 frog-based profile pics that had seen $7 million in trade volume — after a complaint from Furie.
While Furie can claim compensation for any commercial use of his work, he doesn’t seem to be pursuing copyright claims against the issuers of the Pepecoin. Protos has reached out to the memecoin’s team to learn whether they will compensate Furie for the use of his imagery and art. We’ll update should we hear back.