After More Than a Year of Keeping Their Faces Hidden, the Bored Ape Yacht Club Founders Appear on Camera for the First Time
Feverish speculation has swirled around the identities of the men behind the hit NFT collection.
Roughly six months after the creators of the viral NFT phenomenon known as Bored Ape Yacht Club were publicly identified or “doxxed” by Buzzfeed, they have given their first on-camera interview to Input, for the first time revealing their faces.
In it, “Gordon Goner,” a.k.a Wylie Aronow, and “Gargamel,” a.k.a. Greg Solano, joke around about how they met and what inspired the loved-and-loathed Bored Ape NFT collection.
The friendship, according to the video, started with a fight about the late author David Foster Wallace.
“I was a super-fan and Garga was like ‘That guy sucks.’ That was the beginning of our friendship,” says Aronow of their first meeting at a dive bar in Miami. At the time, they were home on a break from college where they both happened to be studying creative writing.
The two goof around on camera in the seven-minute interview, walking around New York City and donning heart-shaped and 3-D movie glasses—props associated with the Apes—while giving background on their cultural interests and the events that inspired the art project.
Many of the anecdotes and talking points Aronow and Solano deploy here are already well known to those who have followed previous profiles of the Bored Ape Yacht Club in Rolling Stone and the New Yorker. The point of the notably breezy interview seems to be, instead, to show that they are ordinary guys.
The founders have until now been shy about showing their faces, and the crypto community was extremely divided on the ethics of Buzzfeed revealing their names. In a June 5 interview with D3 Labs, Nicole Muniz, CEO of the studio behind the Bored Apes, had directly addressed the controversy, passionately making the case for maintaining their privacy as a protection against nefarious elements in the crypto community.
Asked if their identities should have been revealed at all, Muniz responded, “If there was a greater reason for it, I think we would have supported it. It’s just how it was done and why it was done that I don’t understand.” (She says that Buzzfeed gave them only 30 minutes to respond to the story.)
Interest in the real-life identities of the Bored Ape founders has also been stoked by artist Ryder Ripps, who has been promoting the idea that Bored Ape Yacht Club imagery contains secret neo-Nazi “dog whistles,” going so far as to create a website with one of the founder’s screen names, GordonGoner.com, cataloging the evidence. A video last month by YouTuber Philion (a.k.a. Philip Rusnack) gave the theory fresh life, attracting much online attention. (Experts from the Anti-Defamation League have called the Nazi allegations specious.)
Nevertheless, Muniz stressed the founders’ identities as evidence against the charges in her D3 interview. “One of the founders is Jewish, one is Turkish, one is Pakistani, one is Cuban,” she said. “Guy Oseary, one of the partners who came in last year, is Israeli. I myself and Cuban, and am actually first generation American. The idea that we are neo-Nazis or alt-right is offensive, it’s hurtful, it’s totally untrue.”
Yuga Labs sued Ripps at the end of June alleging, among other things, that he was waging “a campaign of harassment based on false accusations of racism” to promote his own line of ape-themed NFTs.
None of this features explicitly in the Input interview, which instead highlights Aronow and Solano’s enthusiasm for the crypto sphere, ambitions for the Bored Ape metaverse, and their friendship.
The interviewer asked how they like working together. “We’re an odd couple,” responds Aronow. “We look different, we think differently.”
“We like to beat up each other’s ideas,” says Solano. “That’s what we do all day.”
In late April, the Bored Ape tokens were trading above a hefty $400,000. As of today, the “floor price” of an Ape—the cheapest one you could get—was at about $140,000 amid the broader crash of the cryptocurrency market.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.