Shaquille O’Neal allegedly violated securities laws when he sold nonfungible tokens in connection with his Astrals Project, according to a proposed class complaint filed Tuesday.
The Astrals NFTs constituted securities that should have been registered before being offered and sold, token owner Daniel Harper says in the complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
O’Neal is among several celebrity defendants in a separate suit over the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, which he allegedly participated in promoting. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in that case chased after O’Neal with the complaint for months but failed to effect service, O’Neal said in a filing in early May.
Attorney Adam Moskowitz, who represents the plaintiffs in both suits, has accused the basketball star-turned-celebrity pitch man of evading numerous service attempts. Moskowitz sought permission in the FTX case to serve O’Neal via the social media site Instagram. That request was denied last month. The success of a subsequent attempt to serve him while in his car is still being litigated.
Here, Harper says the basketball great and businessman “extensively promoted various cryptocurrency projects, including FTX and the Astrals Project, to his 30.4 million followers on Instagram and followers on other social media platforms.”
Harper says he purchased dozens of the Astrals tokens, which have been described as “metaverse-ready 3D avatars by a world-renowned artist,” and lost money.
The size of the potential class is unknown to him, he says. He seeks compensatory damages, disgorgement, restitution, statutory damages, and injunctive relief on federal, Florida, and Virginia securities claims and consumer protection claims.
Attorneys who represent O’Neal in the FTX case didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The Moskowitz Law Firm PLLC and Mark Migdal Hayden LLP represent Harper.
The case is Harper v. O’Neal, S.D. Fla., No. 1:23-cv-21912, complaint 5/23/23.
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