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NFT creator wins multimillion-dollar lawsuit, paving ways for other artists to 'stand up for themselves'

NEW YORK — If you’re feeling unseen because you are not doing what others in society are expecting you to do, whether socializing on the weekends, or figuring out life as an adult, that’s where Danny Casale’s art comes to the rescue.

Reaching millions of audiences using his artist name Coolman Coffeedan, Casale’s work revolves around a wholesome idea that he personally believes in. “You know, messaging around how everything's gonna be okay, how you are loved, you are special, you're not nearly as ugly as you may think you are,” he told ABC News.

His art has also been featured in prominent exhibitions around the world including K11 Shanghai and Art Basels Hong Kong and Miami Beach, among others. Casale’s work first rose to the public eye after his animation entitled “Snakes Have Legs” went viral in June 2017, amassing over 5 million views on YouTube.

To date, Casale has accumulated hundreds of millions of views on his YouTube channel and over 6 million followers on Instagram and TikTok combined. He also published a book in 2021, called, "Ur Special: Advice for Humans from Coolman Coffeedan."

Although achieving such success in life sometimes could come at a cost and in Casale’s circumstance, it almost robbed him of his career and identity as an artist.

The NFT creator told ABC News, in March 2022, he learned a multimillion lawsuit was filed against him by DigiArt LLC, a platform which was co-founded by Robert Earl, a billionaire who is also the founder and CEO of Planet Hollywood.

"I almost fainted in my kitchen," he said. "I was like, 'What is this?' It was confusing, because, you know, there were like, incredibly light discussions, six, eight months prior with this company, and no agreement ever came to fruition."

In the lawsuit, DigiArt LLC, alleged Casale "entered into an agreement" with them which required the two parties "to split net sale proceeds of any of Casale’s NFTs on a 50-50 basis." The company claimed they spent their resources, including money and time, to promote Casale’s work in the past.

"The only issue is the contract that they were putting out there that was signed, countersign dated, never was, never existed," Casale told ABC News.

NFT, short for, a non-fungible token is a one-of-a-kind asset that can take the form of virtually any type of online content and is managed in a digital ledger.

Last month, the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida ruled in favor of Casale on a motion for summary judgment after finding no evidence to show the plaintiff and the defendant had entered into an agreement. As a result, the lawsuit was dismissed, according to a press release, issued on Sept. 22.

ABC News has reached out to DigiArt LLC’s representatives for comment.

The verdict offered a huge relief not only to Casale, but also to the creative community. Casale said his story is "nothing new for artists," adding that he hasn’t seen this specific type of situation being dealt with prior.

"What makes this whole thing, that little extra bit of surreal [is] because it happened in that sliver of time where NFTs were trading millions and millions and millions of dollars every day," he said.

Turning his darkest moments into wisdom, Casale is urging other artists to be more cautious when it comes to trusting others with their work. "I think the largest lesson for others is to just be very careful about who you let into your special kingdom, because you built it up, you're the one who made it so special," he said.

"Don't make it so easy for the folks that want to come in and ruin all that."

Moving forward, Casale said he hopes his story will serve as a lesson to others and "can prevent any of that from happening to any other creatives, any other artists, anybody who's ever built something on their own."

"At times, it just felt like a fight that was never ending, but I kept fighting," he shared of his journey. "And I truly hope that in me doing that, any other artists, creatives, anybody who's built anything that they care about, continues to fight and stand up for themselves. Whether it's something smaller, bigger than this, whatever, I mean, use my case as fuel for you and your specific situation to know that you deserve to stand up for yourself."

Casale said his art "preached that the world is mostly good," and he explained going through the experience such as the lawsuit "definitely challenged a lot of my own personal beliefs and philosophy that comes with my animations."

"But now I get to just double down on my messages that now I believe stronger than ever, that the world is truly a good place," he continued. "And I truly believe that at the end of the day, love would win and love won… It may take a minute, and you might have to meet some nasty characters along the way. But I truly believe that love wins in the end."

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