Gannett Will Auction Off NFTs to Benefit Wrongful Convictions Nonprofit

Artist Peter Tunney’s “Grattitude” and “Liberty” evoke what really matters this holiday season.

Written by Charli Renken
Published on Nov. 22, 2021
Gannett Will Auction Off NFTs to Benefit Wrongful Convictions Nonprofit
peter tunney nft gannet auction
Photo: Gannett

Gannett, the McLean-based media conglomerate behind USA TODAY, announced Monday it will auction off non-fungible tokens (NFTs) created by American contemporary artist Peter Tunney. The animated NFTs, titled “Grattitude” and “Liberty,” are made with 700 pages from Gannett-owned newspapers.

NFTs are a piece of code or token that is supposed to represent something digital, like a work of art or a tweet. The NFT is similar to a certificate of authenticity for that digital item. Gannett is not the only company branching into this digital world. Atlanta-based GigLabs is helping brands launch NFTs and a Chicago museum recently opened to physically showcase these digital items.

Just in time for the holiday season, Tunney’s NFTs embody two virtues often thought about at kitchen tables this time of year. “Grattitude” was turned into two distinct animations by visual journalist Pat Shannahan. One features bouncing, cheerful emojis falling from the ceiling onto the letters, filling up the center of the “u” as if to suggest the overflowing gratitude of the season. The second animation shows each letter painted and repainted with different patterns to emphasize the word “attitude.” This is meant to express Tunney’s “attitude of gratitude” outlook on life, according to a statement. These NFTs are now on sale with 250 limited edition mintings of each animation available for $250 each. 

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The “Liberty” painting and NFT is Tunney’s tribute to the wrongfully convicted, something the artist became passionate about after hearing the story of Sonia “Sunny” Jacobs. Jacobs was wrongfully sentenced to death for the lethal shooting of a Florida state trooper and a visiting Canadian constable in 1976. She was released 1992. By then, her son was married with children of his own and her daughter was 16 and a stranger. As a mother, Jacobs had missed everything for a crime she did not commit.

“She’s got every reason to be pissed off and she’s not,” Tunney said in a statement. “When these guys tell their stories, your problems evaporate.” 

The auction for “Liberty” will take place from November 29 to December 1. Unlike “Grattitude,” there will only be one animated NFT with the bid starting at $50,000. The highest bidder will also receive the original artwork.

“We are thrilled to be launching our second NFT collection in partnership with the incredibly talented Peter Tunney whose works inspire and uplift — just as Gannett seeks to do through storytelling and emerging technologies,” Kris Barton, Gannet chief product officer, said in a statement. “We’re committed to bringing innovative and diverse offerings to our valued readers and interested audiences.”

Tunney is dedicating his portion of the proceeds from selling the two NFTs to The Sunny Center, the non-profit organization Jacobs started with her husband to support those who were wrongfully convicted. The rest of the proceeds will be donated to The Gannett Foundation, which invests in community-building initiatives and supports diversity development in journalism.

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