GameStop is letting someone sell an NFT that references a famous 9/11 photo (updated)

"The Falling Man" is one of the most poignant images from the tragedy.


Less than two weeks into its soft launch, GameStop’s NFT marketplace is already courting controversy. Among the NFTs listed on the platform is an artwork called “Falling Man” that was spotted by Web3 is Going Great. There’s no mistaking it, the NFT references one of the most iconic photos of the early 21st century. “The Falling Man” is part of a series of images captured by Associated Press photojournalist Richard Drew on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Of the 2,753 people who died inside the World Trade Center and surrounding area that day, it’s estimated that at least 100 individuals fell to their death while the towers were still standing.

“This one probably fell from the MIR station,” says the NFT’s description, referencing Russia’s decommissioned space station. The artwork’s creator is selling two different versions of “Falling Man,” with the cheapest listed at 0.65 Ethereum or about $990. As Web3 is Going Great points out, GameStop operates a curated NFT marketplace. Artists must apply and pass a vetting process before they can list their tokens for sale. The company takes a 2.25 percent cut of sales. GameStop did not immediately respond to Engadget’s comment request.

Artistic theft is a major issue in the NFT space. On platforms like OpenSea where people can mint tokens for free, fake and plagiarized content abounds. While you could make the argument that “Falling Man” doesn’t fall into those categories and that artists should be free to reference past works and tragedies, it’s also true that this NFT trivializes the falling man’s fate, reducing his final moments into something to be sold for a profit.

Update 07/24/22 9:00AM ET: The Falling Man NFT is no longer listed on GameStop's marketplace. The company has yet to return Engadget's request for comment or tweet about the takedown. However, in a direct message to one individual, the company said it was taking action against the creator of the NFT. "This NFT will be removed from our marketplace entirely," the company said. "This user has already had their minting ability removed from their account, and we have already been in direct contact with the creator about these actions."