As 2017 rolls into 2018, cryptocurrency — money that lives inside of the computer — is set to explode in value and notoriety alike. Bitcoin, the most popular and widely known cryptocurrency, saw its value soar from $1,000 to well over $10,000 over the course of the past year, and newer currencies like Ethereum and Litecoin have similarly skyrocketed. According to a report from Business Insider, the total value of the cryptocurrency market is hovering just under $500 billion. All that digital market activity can raise only one question: How much would Coinye, a now-defunct cryptocurrency that used the likeness of Kanye West without his permission, be worth now had Kanye West not buried it under a lawsuit?
Launched and killed in January of 2014, Coinye was a cryptocurrency developed with the intention of making cryptocurrency accessible to non-programmers. Its creators said in interviews at the time they hoped it might be used to buy concert tickets; they also hoped their ingenuity would earn them West's blessing, even though they used his name and likeness without seeking his approval. "We chose to represent Kanye because he is and always has been a trendsetter, and he's always keeping things unique," one of the currency's developers said in an anonymous Noisey interview. "We'd love if Kanye named dropped Coinye. I think he's gonna love that there’s a currency named in his honor."
Turns out, Kanye West did not love that there was a currency named in his honor. In fact, West issued a cease and desist to the creators of Coinye, prompting them to change the currency's logo and open it up to trade a few days ahead of schedule. Coinye lived for less than a week; by January 14, 2014, its creators declared it dead, and three of them ended up settling with West in court.
But in an alternate universe where West had embraced rather than discarded Coinye, how much value might it have accumulated? While Coinye was never actually exchanged for dollars, some enthusiastic crypto investors apparently purchased some of the Yeezy-themed money with bitcoin. On January 8, 2014, two users on a bitcoin forum agreed to a deal: 125,000 Coinye for 0.1 bitcoin, or about $83 according to Coinbase's price chart.
Bitcoin started 2017 at around the same price as January 2014, but it's currently worth about 2,000% more than it was last year January price. Ethereum, meanwhile, is approximately 8,000% more expensive than in 2016, and Liitecoin is enjoying a jump of about 8,500%. That 125,000 Coinye could have been around $1,600, twenty times its original worth. If Kanye West had invested in Coinye rather than squashing it, it's possible he'd be looking at some seriously healthy returns right now.
Then again, if West had decided to become a pioneering cryptocurrency investor in 2014, he may not have had time to make The Life of Pablo. Maybe it's better that we're all here in this universe, and not the alternate one where Coinye futures are at an astonishing premium.