MetaBirkins are 100 virtual Birkin bag-inspired, non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs or a blockchain's digital assets) made by virtual artist Mason Rothschild. They were launched for sale on December 21st of last year.
A week after the launch, on January 4th, 2019, Hermes issued an open letter via Instagram, on Twitter and on their own website to address a cease and desist they sent to Rothschild. The letter claimed that Hermes would take further legal action against the artist if he did not comply with the terms outlined in the letter by January 10th, 2019.
For those who don't know what non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are or need a refresher, read our latest explainer NFTs are digital assets that can be sold and traded on decentralized marketplaces. Each of these tokens is unique and cannot be replicated or destroyed (this makes them non-fungible).
Rothschild's 100 MetaBirkins, which he created by combining original digital painting with computer-generated graphics and traditional sculpting techniques, were made available for sale on December 21st 2018 for 0.002 ETH (approximately $13). He raised 0.01 ETH (approximately $10) during the first 24 hours of his launch, but he had to turn off MetaBirkins' listing after price manipulation by bots caused extreme volatility in its pricing.
Rothschild then promised to relaunch the sale of his tokens on January 10th 2019, following a few changes to his website's code to make it more secure.
He also said he would be looking for other means of making the tokens available (including non-crypto marketplaces), but at the time of writing, MetaBirkins are still unavailable for purchase.
Rothschild has yet to release an official statement regarding Hermes' letter or whether or not he plans on complying with their terms.
Rothschild's virtual art isn't the only NFTs to get the Hermes treatment either, as in December 2018, Hermes filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against blockchain and video game company Gamedex over allegations that it created and sold an NFT called "Hèrmes"
In today's virtual art world, it seems that non-fungible tokens depicting luxury items are a little too close to the real thing for Hermes' taste.It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds and if other brands follow suit.