Beeple Collector Metakovan Is Suing Twobadour, Claiming His Ex-Partner Is Falsely Taking Credit for Buying the $69 Million NFT
At one time, Vignesh Sundaresan and Anand Venkateswaran claimed to have bought the NFT together.
After cryptocurrency investor Vignesh Sundaresan bought Beeple’s Everydays – The First 5000 Days at Christie’s in 2021, he reveled in the notion that he’d acquired an extremely expensive JPEG and encouraged the whole internet to download it for free. But when it comes to establishing who bought and owns the $69 million NFT, Sundaresan has been anything but laissez-faire.
In a case filed in the Southern District of New York on June 16, Sundaresan and his company Portkey Technologies are suing former contractor and Massachusetts-based blockchain entrepreneur Anand Venkateswaran for trademark infringement and false claims of having been intimately involved in the purchase of the Beeple artwork.
The purchase granted MetaPurse, the fund through which Sundaresan acquired the NFT, global attention, one the suit claims Venkateswaran has sought to capitalize on through falsely associating himself with the brand.
This contrasts with the narrative told in the wake of the sale that turned NFTs from a niche concept to a mainstream interest overnight. Shortly after the Christie’s auction, MetaPurse published a post on Substack that told the story of “how two immigrants from Tamil Nadu bought a piece of digital art for $69M.” Those two individuals were relayed as Vignesh Sundaresan, aka Metakovan, and Anand Venkateswaran, aka Twobadour.
Now, the tune has changed altogether. The suit alleges Venkateswaran had no ownership of Twobadour, an online identity, the suit stated, created and trademarked by Sundaresan, and merely operated the trademarked property on behalf of his boss.
“Without limitation, Defendant has publicly claimed to be one of the two people who purchased the Beeple NFT,” the 26-page suit reads. “Defendant has sought to promote his own businesses, including, without limitation eDAO and Layer-E, which have focused on selling NFTs.”
As laid out in the suit, Venkateswaran began working for Portkey, Sundaresan’s Singapore-based company that owns MetaPurse in 2017. He worked in a web development and communications capacity. This role expanded in 2020 with Venkateswaran additionally helping to operate MetaPurse on behalf of Sundaresan.
As the profile of MetaPurse expanded in the wake of the Beeple acquisition, the two men publicly presented themselves as the faces of a new generation of entrepreneurship and art ownership. Internally, the suit claims tension was growing. Prior to the mutual termination of Venkateswaran’s contract in early 2022, Sundaresan was aggrieved to find his employee using the trademark and pseudonym Twobadour outside of his work for Portkey.
According to the suit, Venkateswaran’s practice of falsely connecting himself with the Beeple sale and claiming credit for MetaPurse’s purchases only increased after leaving Portkey. This included making podcast and YouTube appearances, such as on The Blockchain Council Podcast where he said, “I used to be the steward of MetaPurse… I was one of the two guys who bought the 69-million-dollar Beeple piece.”
Similar claims appeared on across his social media accounts, including on the top of his Twitter page that read: “As @twobadour, Steward of @metapurse, won the $69m @BEEPLE auction.”
Following the lawsuit, the top of Venkateswaran’s Twitter account has been altered and now reads, “NFT tribesman. Artist fanboy. Lucky husband, proud father, wishful thinker.”
The duo announced their split in late 2022, though Metakovan told Artnet News at that time: “We are still friends.”
Venkateswaran did not respond to requests for comment.
The suit states Venkateswaran has ignored repeated warnings to stop making false claims and that his refusal to do so has damaged the reputations of both Portkey and Sundaresan, as well as their current investments and ability to undertake new business projects.
Sundaresan is seeking injunctive relief as well as damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.
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