Basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal was delivered legal papers for two separate lawsuits in the broader crypto and NFT realm on Tuesday—and was served while broadcasting an NBA game at what once was Miami’s FTX Arena.
One of the lawsuits centers on celebrities that promoted the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, including other high-profile defendants like former NFL quarterback Tom Brady and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” TV star Larry David.
Yet, the other complaint focuses specifically on O’Neal and his NFT project, Astrals, launched last March. The lawsuit alleges that Astrals NFTs offered for sale were unregistered securities and attached to promises made by the former NBA player.
The two lawsuits brought against O’Neal are led by The Moskowitz Law Firm and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, who are working in tandem. Following accusations that Shaq was evading process servers and stifling court procedures, attorney Adam Moskowitz said that legal actions can now proceed.
“It is good that we can start with the merits, instead of the silly service sideshow Mr. O’Neal unfortunately created,” Moskowitz said in a written statement provided to Decrypt. “It seems absurd to have to go to such great lengths to serve Mr. O’Neal.”
The Moskowitz Law Firm said O’Neal had the process server “kicked out” of the Miami Heat’s stadium after he was served, adding that the event was filmed to “ensure there was no ambiguity.”
Representatives for O’Neal did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Decrypt.
Moskowitz’s law firm said last month that it had finally served O’Neal in relation to the FTX lawsuit, but O’Neal’s lawyers shot back weeks ago, claiming legal documents were thrown at the NBA star’s car instead of being delivered to him personally.
Meanwhile, the 54-page complaint against O’Neal for his ownership of Astrals contains six total claims, accusing the former NBA icon of violating laws like Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Ultimately, the complaint claims that Astrals NFTs—unique digital tokens that signify the ownership of an item, often digital art—should be considered unregistered securities under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Howey Test. The process for determining whether something constitutes a security can be traced back to 1946.
“The fortunes of the Astrals NFT investors, and the value of the Astrals NFTs, were linked almost entirely to O’Neal’s celebrity status and the success of his promotional efforts,” the complaint states.
The complaint contains pages upon pages of Shaq’s involvement in the digital assets industry, documenting his foray into the Web3 space and how Astrals allegedly led investors astray.
Astrals, a Solana-based NFT project, comprised 10,000 “metaverse-ready” avatars that would be supported by a DAO and a “story-driven, play-to-earn role-playing game,” according to a section of the project’s white paper included in the complaint.
The project was the brainchild of O’Neal, the lawsuit claims, and the appointment of O’Neal’s son, Myles O’Neal, as the project’s head of investor relations signals that the Astrals team viewed and portrayed the NFT project as a marketing opportunity.
The complaint focuses on the various ways O’Neal promoted the project—on social media and during musical performances as DJ Diesel—and how he stopped engaging with the project’s community after the collapse of FTX.
The last time O’Neal engaged with Astral’s community was on January 2 through the project’s Discord server, the lawsuit claims, when he allegedly posted a GIF from the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” captioned “I’m not fucking leaving.”
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