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Actor Elijah Wood sells NFTs for charity after artist’s work decried as racist

George Trosley, the artist behind the nonfungible tokens, said the decades-old artwork was created to shine a light on outrageous social injustices.
Image: Elijah Wood at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2017.
Elijah Wood at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2017.Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP file

Actor Elijah Wood sold a series of nonfungible tokens he owned after some claimed the artist behind them had created racist depictions of marginalized people in some of his past work.

In a now-deleted tweet, Wood, best known for portraying Frodo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, wrote that he was "loving [his] Golden Zombie," an NFT of cartoonist George Trosley's work from his series "Jungle Freaks."

Trosley's "Jungle Freaks" series, featured in Hustler Magazine, depicted genetically modified gorillas warring with zombies in an apocalyptic future. The work dates back to the 1970s.

But after Wood tweeted about his newest Trosley NFT, of which he owned several, some Twitter users began to highlight problematic artwork from the cartoonist depicting Black Americans in a derogatory way.

Input Magazine was the first to report on the backlash to Wood's NFTs.

On Halloween, Wood released a statement saying he had sold the artwork after he "was made aware of some of the artist's prior disturbing cartoons."

"Upon learning this, I immediately sold the NFTs as I wholly denounce any form of racism," he wrote in the statement.

He said he donated the proceeds from the sale of the NFTs to charities including Black Lives Matter.

The backlash has also caused others to sell their Trosley NFTs and the brand experienced a 65 percent drop in its average sale price, according to Input.

Trosley and his son George Trosley III addressed the backlash in both a statement posted to Twitter and a video posted to YouTube, saying the images had been taken out of context.

In the video statement, the senior Trosley said when he was exclusively contracted by Hustler, he was told to create cartoons that were as outrageous as possible, "calling attention to social injustices in America and these cartoons depict that."

"These cartoons are shining a light on social injustice. They are not shining a light on racism in that fashion at all," Trosley III said.

Still, in the written statement, the senior Trosley apologized for the works, saying there's "nothing I can say or do to erase these cartoons from the past."

"It is my goal that this situation leads to an opportunity to have an open dialogue that clarifies my past work, encourages thought provoking ideas and solutions that will create a cause to action, rather than having my art be misinterpreted as supporting racism and discrimination, which I do not condone in any matter,” he said.