Shortly after GameStop launched its NFT marketplace earlier this month, one creator started selling an NFT called “Falling Man” mimicking the infamous photograph from September 11, 2001. It changed hands dozens of times, eventually fetching hundreds of dollars, until GameStop quietly removed it sometime over the weekend.
GameStop launched its NFT marketplace just days after the latest round of mass layoffs at its corporate offices. Users can mint and trade autographed JPEGs, with GameStop taking a small cut of each transaction. Since it went live, the platform has earned the ailing gaming retailer over $200,000 in estimated commissions. At least $100 of that seems to have come from a 9/11-inspired NFT.
Created by a user called Jules and seemingly uploaded to the GameStop NFT platform within a day of its debut, the “Falling Man” NFT displays an astronaut between two sets of vertical white and black columns. “This one probably fell from the MIR station,” reads a caption, referencing a low orbit Russian space station.
While GameStop’s NFT marketplace mascot is an astronaut, the “Falling Man” NFT is otherwise a ripoff of “The Falling Man” photo. Taken by the Associated Press’ Richard Drew on the morning two planes were flown into the World Trade Towers killing 2,753 people and injuring thousands of others, it shows an unidentified man falling from one of the buildings.
The 9/11 NFT was first sold on July 12 for 0.02 Ethereum or $29.97, according to the Web Archive copy of the listing. Over a dozen more were sold after that, with some users eventually reselling it for over $100. By July 22 one had sold for as much as $749, while the price listed on Jule’s creator page for two of the remaining unsold 9/11 NFTs had gone up to $7,492.
The NFT got picked up by the blog Web3 is going great on July 23, and soon after GameStop appeared to nuke it from orbit. The listing for “Falling Man” is now gone, including the cached page. Creator Jules, meanwhile, still has a number of other astronaut NFTs for sale that don’t try to profit off of 9/11.
It’s not clear how GameStop vets the creators it hosts, the NFTs they mint, or whether any actions have been taken besides simply delisting the one in question only after it began to be criticized online. GameStop did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jules could not immediately be reached.
While the NFT market in general has cratored, some of GameStop’s most fervent meme stock investors believe its NFT marketplace will be a key part of the company’s pivot toward growth. While the 9/11 NFT was being slammed on social media, GameStop “apes” on the GME and Superstonk subreddits were going bananas after the Blockbuster Twitter account went on a posting spree. Some in the community think it means the now-liquidated movie rental business will be joining GameStop’s NFT platform. Blockbuster went bankrupt nearly a decade ago.