On Wednesday, bids for a digital art auction to benefit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal defense reached more than $50 million.
After WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of secret classified data and diplomatic cables in 2010, Assange is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, where he faces 18 criminal allegations, including breaching a spying law.
Last month, Assange, who is still being held in a London prison, was given the opportunity to appeal the decision to extradite him to the UK’s highest court. His case will now be decided by the Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not to hear it.
To assist fund his case, Assange teamed with a crypto artist known as Pak to sell a collection of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) dubbed Censored in an online auction from Feb. 7-9.
NFTs are a kind of crypto asset that uses blockchain to record the ownership status of digital files such as images, videos, and even items within online games. The centerpiece of the auction is an NFT artwork, Clock, that displays the number of days Assange has been imprisoned in white text on a black background. It updates each day.
Bids on the Clock NFT were at 16,593 ether, which is worth just under $52 million, as of 1115 GMT on Wednesday.
The bid was made by Assange supporters who formed the AssangeDAO organization to bid on the NFT collectively.
A Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is a type of online community that allows members to pool their funds and vote on decisions using blockchain-based tokens.
The AssangeDAO raised 17,422 of the cryptocurrency ether – roughly $54.6 million – since Feb. 2, according to the crowdfunding website Juicebox. The fundraising effort drew in more than 10,000 people.
“This is tens of thousands of people coming together to show real strength – the Power of the People,” AssangeDAO community lead Joshua Bate said in a Discord post announcing the bid. “In less than one week, we have shown that decentralized and distributed peoples can band together to fight injustice.”
Proceeds from the sale of Clock will go to support Assange’s legal defense, the group said.
The auction closes at 1400 GMT. If the AssangeDAO loses the auction, people who have paid into the DAO will have the option to withdraw their funds, the AssangeDAO website said.