The Spice Must Flow: Why Crypto Brokers Spent $3Million to Buy a Rare Dune Book by@wiliamhunter

The Spice Must Flow: Why Crypto Brokers Spent $3Million to Buy a Rare Dune Book

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Wiliam Hunter

Freelance tech journalist covering all things digital Got a story? reach me at [email protected]

While Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi masterpiece, Dune, has jumped to mainstream popularity with Denis Villeneuve taking the reigns of the most recent movie adaptation, among the die-hard community of fans there is one film adaptation that has legendary status. Legendary precisely because it doesn't exist.

In 1974 the visionary film-maker, tarot expert, and author Alejandro Jodorowsky embarked on what was perhaps the most ambitious film project ever attempted. Jean “Mobius” Giraud, of Metal Hurlant fame, would design the storyboards. H.R Giger, better known for his visual design for the Alien franchise, would provide art. Salvidor Dali himself would play the role of the Emperor of the Universe, alongside Mick Jagger and a score by Pink Floyd. The film would be at least 14 hours long.

Unsurprisingly the project fell through before it could ever make it to the screen, but it left behind a surprising legacy. Part of that legacy is a book that became known as the “Dune Bible”, a vast tome collecting the script, concept art, and scattered pre-production materials. Few of these books were made and a tiny number have circulated among collectors ever since.

In the latest twist in the ill-fated tale of Jodorowsky’s Dune, a copy of this rare book has been purchased at Christie’s Auction House in Paris for $3,160,062 USD, almost 110 times its presale estimate.

The buyer: SpiceDAO. For those not in the know, SpiceDAO is a decentralised anonymous organisation. In brief, this is a group by which decision-making is spread equally across the group's membership.

Membership is secured by buying a chunk of the cryptocurrency tied to the group in this case $SPICE. Spiceholders, as the group calls their members, then vote to decide on all matters of governing the group.

DAO’s have formed in the past to try and acquire rare physical assets, but the results have not been encouraging. ConstitutionDAO shut down late last year after losing out to hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin in their bid to purchase a rare copy of the American constitution.

Soban Saqib who goes by Soby originally footed the $3million needed for the purchase and the group are currently undergoing the legal work necessary to reimburse Soby and transfer ownership of the book back to the DAO.

With the book in hand SpiceDAO now turn their attention to how to profit of their enormous investment. A scroll through the group's 2,989-member discord reveals more plans on how to monetise their only asset.

Suggestions range from tokenised NFTs based on the book's content to the more extreme take of making NFTs of every page and then burning the book. In a tweet they lay out the official plan.

However, a number of challenges stand in the way, the most troubling of which is that they do not own the copyright to the book. As of today, the group has no legal right to reproduce any of the material for profit and it doesn’t seem likely that they are going to get it.

The copyright was co-owned by Moebius, Giger, and Jodorowsky. Although Jodorowsky has licensed adaptations of his work in the past, most recently a film adaption of The Incal to be directed by Taika Waititi, given that Moebius and Giger both died within the last decade chances of getting them on board look slim.

According to Buzzfeed the copyright of co-owned by Moebius, Giger, and Jodorowsky. Although Jodorowsky has licensed adaptations of his work in the past, most recently a film adaption of The Incal to be directed by Taika Waititi, given that Moebius and Giger both died within the last decade chances of getting them on board look slim.

Not only do they face copyright issues but their goal of making the book available faces the problem that the book already is. High definition scans have been available online since early 2011. Leaving it unclear what the next step forward is for Spice DAO

Acquiring the book itself was only the very first hurdle. But with $11Million of Ethereum in the coffers and singer Grimes buying into the project the membership remains optimistic. However, with legal and financial challenges pilling up only time will tell whether this young crypto-community will survive to make the most of its success.


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