Fraud continues to sell this Korean artist’s surreal pornography as a scam NFTs

Every morning, Joyce Lee says, she dreads checking her Instagram DMs “because I might read from someone that my work has been stolen again. This kind of art theft will never go away as long as I continue to create art.”

While most of us are confused by exactly what an NFT is, for Korean artist Joyce Lee, the rise of non-fungible tokens is less of a mystery than a threat. Over the past several months, her surreal-erotic bubble-fantasy-pop creations have been repeatedly stolen by NFT scammers, who have snatched the screens, altered them at a to some extent, then try to cut them into their own. Now she is participating in what is similar to an ongoing digital game.

“Almost every day I get direct messages from my followers informing me that my artwork has been used or monetized without my consent,” explains Lee via email from Seoul, where she is currently exhibiting at Moowoosoo Gallery. “In most cases, I tell them to forget it and ignore them because I don’t want to waste my time fighting with people online. The case-by-case response is so stressful.”

However, the magnitude of a burglary forced her to take action.

“The scammer uploaded almost a hundred of my art at OpenSea and Rarible — the largest NFT platforms — and is trying to make money. I couldn’t focus on my art making and felt very nervous,” said Lee. “I had to get help from my IG followers to get the issue resolved ASAP and get back to work. Thanks to the support of my followers, the two platforms took down the scammer’s account. Rarible did not respond to any of my official reports at the help center on the website. Luckily, one of my followers is a close acquaintance of a Rarible founder and told me how to handle his personal IG. I sent him a DM directly and the account was taken down immediately.”

All of this is a very new to an old problem. Art forgery and fraud dates back to the Renaissance, and even the great Michelangelo once repaired a painting to make it antique and increase its value. (He gets caught but still has to keep the money.) But is the army of IG followers about to turn against the global NFT platforms? Everything has become clear in the 21st century.

In a nutshell, an NFT is a piece of digital data distributed over a global network known as the “blockchain”. Unlike interchangeable blockchain products such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs are uniquely identifiable and theoretically owned by a single person, although the NFT data itself can be shared and shared. watched by a lot of people. If this vague sense of ownership makes you wonder why someone would want to pay so much for it, it’s a bit clearer why someone would steal the work and try to convert it into NFT. their own: there’s a large amount of money in it. The NFT art market explodes with a $22 billion valuation in 2021 — up from $100 million the year before.

It is precisely this high price that separates the theft of NFT artwork from previous forms of digital art piracy.

At a glance, the situation could easily be compared to the time when Napster caused the millennium boom in digital music theft. However, the difference is money and impact. Music fans raving about the latest songs of Sugar Ray or Brian McKnight didn’t make any money from it, and music-sharing has benefited smaller artists who are suddenly looking see eager online communities. On the other hand, the NFT art scammers are directly profiting from other people’s art and seem to have no benefit for the artists themselves.

Joyce Lee, for example, has built a following by delivering uniquely engaging art directly to her audience. It’s hard to imagine that she received any recognition from the stolen NFT artwork without even attempting to credit her work.

“My income is primarily from working and selling original artwork and prints,” explains Lee. “But I can’t concentrate on my art while facing the [NFT theft] problem. For artists, the time it takes to create something means a lot to potential earnings, so they definitely hurt my earnings.”

“They will remove all the watermarks inside the artworks, transform them with some graphic filters and sell them as if they were newly recreated by them.”

– Joyce Lee

Currently, there’s very little artists like Lee can do to protect themselves from theft.

“I don’t have any perfect way to stop NFT scams. Before going through with the theft of NFT artwork, I always put my little signature in the corner of the space in my artwork because I wanted to show my artwork in the best quality. . But since the terrible thing happened, I’ve put my signature inside key objects in my artwork to make it harder for scammers to remove. And it’s almost impossible to stop them. They will remove all the watermarks inside the artworks, transform them with some graphic filters and sell them as if they were newly created by them.”

Ironically, Lee’s surreal erotic action is thematically perfect for NFT theft.

Since its inception, the Surrealist movement has simultaneously demonstrated a fascination and disgust for technology, leveraging the latest technological tools to broaden the horizons of the artistic experience, but often to a lesser extent. reduce the accusation or at least imply that we live in a technologically backward age. Lee’s work leans heavily on surrealism, and it draws her to the forefront of our current astigmatism.


At the same time, the erotic elements of Lee’s work – which carry a playful, almost provocative look at sex and taboo – make it a prime target for internet thieves, because… it’s the internet. The internet has a long history of doing great and terrible things about porn. It’s no surprise that Lee’s eye-catching artwork appears to be an enticing honeypot for NFT scammers.

“It’s really hard to describe,” Lee says of his work, “because I just draw what comes to mind at a time, without any real purpose. I want to hear how people define my art in the future. I really enjoy exploring the humane and humorous aspects of love and sex through the symbolism of the human body, especially women, sometimes in provocative ways. I want people to get excited, blush and imagine something more when they see my work. And I like to think of myself as someone who dares to express something that most of them are thinking but would never express.

“One thing is clear: Women in my art are far from shy. They never hesitate to express their emotions using their whole body. I see beautiful girls inside many works of Korean artists looking very shy and even sad. The girls in my art are different from them. My intention with my art is not to express female power or feminism, but it is rewarding to see that my work has brought about this effect. ”

Aside from the erotic element, Lee’s other main feature of art – surrealism – also helped it find an eager audience.


“People of our time have always felt trapped in a difficult reality and longed to get out of it,” says Lee. “We often want some alone time to heal and nourish ourselves. Literature or art related to surrealism will help us. They take us to another world where we don’t feel stress. I have always liked to imagine what it would be like to live in a world that exists outside of reality, and the concept of “parallel reality” is reflected in both my content and my art form. You can easily observe the combination of different time and space or the presence of unusual objects in my work.

“The pandemic has forced us all to look inward, but the time spent in isolation at home has given me more artistic inspiration. My followers on Instagram have been sending me lots of DMs saying things like, ‘Your art has really gotten me through all the sad news lately. Thank you!’ My intention with my art is not to provide an outlet for others, but it is rewarding to see that my work has had such an effect.”

“Most artists who are not technicians are trained in the field of cybersecurity. We will never find the perfect means to prevent NFT theft because most NFT scammers are better than us in this area.”

– Joyce Lee

One of the parallel realities most of us live in every day — the internet — will continue to pose new challenges for artists.

“There will be more and more digital art than traditional hand-made art, but the problem is they look the same now because digital artists use the same graphic software. ,” said Lee. “Only a few artists with a special and unique charm survive.”

Lee’s work is primarily created using watercolors and crayons on paper, giving a distinctly vintage vibe to her digital presence. While she sells prints of her work through her online store, and while her works are exhibited in galleries and spaces around the world, Lee’s work is primarily located on the internet, where the battle for ownership rages on.

“Most artists are not technicians trained in cybersecurity,” Lee said. “We will never find the perfect means to prevent NFT theft because most NFT scammers are better than us in this area. The NFT platform should invent some new effective way to protect the artists inside their website. Without their efforts for the benefit and safety of the artist, artists would never have been able to last long enough to create success.” Fraud continues to sell this Korean artist’s surreal pornography as a scam NFTs

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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