Singapore High Court blocks potential sale and transfer of rare NFT

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SINGAPORE - In a first, a Singaporean man has won a court injunction to stop any potential sale and ownership transfer of a non-fungible token (NFT) that was previously owned by him.

The injunction, issued by the Singapore High Court on Friday (May 13), is also said to be the first in Asia - as well as globally for a purely commercial dispute - to protect an NFT.

NFTs are tokens that exist on decentralised digital ledgers called blockchains. They can be used to represent underlying assets, which can be digital or physical, such as artwork, videos and music.

According to court documents provided to The Straits Times, the High Court's injunction protects a unique Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT, which a Singaporean man is seeking to repossess from an online persona named "chefpierre".

BAYC is a limited collection of NFTs, each featuring an ape with distinctive attributes such as facial expressions, clothing and accessories.

They are seen as a highly coveted status symbol, with some reportedly being owned by celebrities such as American talkshow host Jimmy Fallon and singer Justin Bieber.

Pop star Madonna was reported to have bought one of the NFTs last month for 180 Ether, a cryptocurrency worth US$560,000 (S$778,000) at the time.

The man's identity is redacted in the court documents, but a search on the Singapore Courts website by ST shows his name to be Janesh Rajkumar. The identity of "chefpierre" is stated to be unknown in both the court documents and the website.

Mr Janesh is seeking to repossess the NFT known as BAYC No. 2162, which he had used as a collateral for a loan from "chefpierre". He is claiming, among other things, that he is the rightful owner of the NFT and that "chefpierre" had taken it wrongfully from him.

In his statement of claim, Mr Janesh said he had previously bought the NFT with the intention of keeping the token for himself.

He also said it is a particularly rare piece even among BAYC NFTs due to its attributes, including its potential to create a new NFT of another exclusive series.

Due to BAYC No. 2162's rarity and high monetary value, Mr Janesh would often use it as...

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