Who paid for Reese Witherspoon's NFT collection?
A complex web of wallets leaves more questions than answers...
Over the last few months, the famous actress Reese Witherspoon has positioned herself as a staunch supporter of cryptocurrencies and the “NFT community.” She shares her NFTs, encourages other people to buy NFTs, and recently claimed that “every person will have a parallel digital identity.” Apparently, this means you should be buying NFTs…
In particular, Ms. Witherspoon’s promotional efforts have focused on several NFT projects, most notably “World of Women (WoW).” Reese was the first celebrity to promote WoW on social media with a post on Twitter in October 2021:
After Ms. Witherspoon’s endorsement, the WOW project went on to generate over $40 million in sales.
Since those early purchases, Ms. Witherspoon has continued to add to her collection. All told, it appears she has spent ~240 Ethereum (Eth) (~$720,000) on approximately two dozen NFTs. Her largest single purchase was WOW 6403 for 69 Eth (~$200,000), a purchase which she celebrated on Twitter:
While Ms. Witherspoon’s posts never explicitly state that she paid for these NFTs, this is certainly implied by her actions: She claims to own the tokens, and her wallet shows that the NFTs were all purchased on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace. However, a review of her wallet activity demonstrates that the money to buy these NFTs came from some very interesting places…
Over the course of its existence, Reese Witherspoon’s wallet (0x7948aa.., abbreviated as “RW”) has received 254 Ether (present-day value ~$760,000). If these funds were provided by Ms. Witherspoon directly, we might expect to see a simple set of transfers between RW and 1-2 other wallets.
However, when mapping RW’s interactions, we get a much more complicated picture:
We re-formatted this map to highlight interesting transactions:
All 254 Eth sent to RW came through wallet (0x857cbb…). This wallet appears to be a pass-through wallet, as all funds sent to (0x857cbb…) are transferred to RW:
Moving upstream, multiple wallets have contributed to RW’s slush fund over the past few months. Of these wallets, the largest single contributor to RW was wallet (0x976a4…), which sent ~117 Eth over the course of several months. These upstream wallets also show multiple connections to each other. For example, wallet (0xa3cc9…) sent 33 Eth to (0x976a4…) and transferred 91.7 Eth to RW. (0x976a4…) received 13.8 ETH from (0xac3bf…), which transferred 37.2 Eth to RW.
The transaction map of (0x976a4) demonstrates several significant interactions between the wallets funding RW. Over the course of the last year, (0x976a4) transferred 15,800 Eth (~$47 million) to wallet (0xc333e…) and 12,580 Eth (~$37 million) to wallet (0xad6ea…). All told, wallet (0x976a4…) and connected wallets were responsible for ~85% of the total Ethereum sent to RW.
It is worth noting that the first transfers to RW in September and October 2021 came from (0x976a4…). These transfers funded RW’s first purchases of NFTs and her subsequent promotion of the World of Women project, suggesting that (0x976a4…) has some connection to WOW. And whoever they are, the group backing Ms. Witherspoon has access to significant crypto assets- at least $180 million worth:
However, the current balances in these wallets don’t show how much money has flowed through them over time. According to Etherscan, the wallets have had several billion dollars in crypto assets flow through them over their lifespan!
Who controls these upstream wallets? Unfortunately, the transaction data becomes too complex to conclusively determine where the funds are coming from. For example, wallet (0xad6ea…) has received tens of thousands of Ethereum from multiple exchanges, including Binance, Bitfinex, and Huobi:
So, what does this data suggest?
It is unlikely that Ms. Witherspoon personally funded the wallet buying “her” NFTs.
The upstream wallets have multiple significant transactional links to each other, supporting the hypothesis that several of these wallets are controlled by a single individual or organization.
The upstream wallets control at least $180 million in assets, suggesting powerful actors are behind Ms. Witherspoon’s foray into NFTs and Web3.0.
Whoever is funding RW’s purchases probably has a financial interest in promoting NFTs, particularly the WOW project.
Unfortunately all we can do for now is speculate, as Ms. Witherspoon has failed to disclose the financial relationships between herself and the mystery parties paying for her NFT purchases (violating FTC rules in the process). We don’t know how much she is being compensated for her promotional activity, although it appears at a minimum that she has gotten some very expensive NFTs for free!