Former OpenSea Employee to Face Trial for Insider Trading in NFT Market

Former OpenSea employee Nathaniel Chastain is set to face trial on April 24th for charges of wire fraud and money laundering.[0] The charges stem from allegations that Chastain used confidential information to purchase non-fungible tokens (NFTs) before they were featured on OpenSea’s homepage, and then sold them for a profit.[1] The case has raised questions about insider trading in the NFT market.

Chastain, who was the head of product at OpenSea, was responsible for selecting NFTs to be featured on the site’s homepage. OpenSea kept the identities of featured NFTs confidential until they appeared on the homepage.[2] After an NFT was featured, the prices buyers were willing to pay for those NFTs typically increased substantially.[2]

Chastain’s alleged actions have been described as insider trading, but his lawyers argue that the term does not accurately reflect the nature of the alleged crime.[0] Judge Furman granted the government’s request to stop witnesses from giving their opinions on the case to prevent arguments that OpenSea didn’t suffer any harm.[0] However, an expert could still explain how Chastain’s actions affected the company.[0]

Arguments on the matter of insider trading may also be presented before the court.[0] Several government motions were denied, but the judge did grant its motions to preclude witnesses’ opinions about whether Chastain’s conduct constituted “insider trading” and another to preclude the argument that this case is novel or unprecedented.[2]

Chastain was indicted in June last year on allegations of insider trading during his time as head of product at OpenSea.[2] As part of his job, Chastain was responsible for selecting NFTs to be featured on the site’s homepage. Until they were displayed on OpenSea’s homepage, the identity of the highlighted NFTs was kept confidential. Once an NFT was featured, there was often a significant increase in the prices buyers were willing to pay for them.[2]

“NFTs might be new, but this type of criminal scheme is not,” US Attorney Damian Williams said at the time of the indictment.[2] “As alleged, Nathaniel Chastain betrayed OpenSea by using its confidential business information to make money for himself.”[3]

Accusations have been made against Chastain for committing wire fraud and money laundering, both of which come with a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years.[3] Depending on the outcome of the trial, Chastain faces a potentially lengthy prison term.[2]

The case has raised questions about the regulation of the NFT market and the potential for insider trading in the space. As NFTs continue to gain popularity and value, it will be important for regulators to ensure that the market is fair and transparent. The outcome of Chastain’s trial could set a precedent for future cases involving insider trading in the NFT market.

0. “OpenSea’s Nathaniel Chastain Faces Money Laundering Charges”, 20 Apr. 2023,

1. “First-Ever NFT Insider-Trading Case Heads to Trial” The Wall Street Journal, 24 Apr. 2023,

2. “OpenSea NFT ex-employee to undergo trial as judge rules in favor of using ‘insider trading’ term” CoinGeek, 21 Apr. 2023,

3. “Former OpenSea Employee Faces Criminal Charges Over NFT Trades” Silicon UK, 24 Apr. 2023,