Hollywood couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ adult animated series Stoner Cats has been fined $1 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the methods used to raise money for the project.
According to the SEC, the series was funded with $8 million made from selling more than 10,000 non-fungible tokens (NFTs). However, the SEC has fined those behind the show for “conducting an unregistered offering of crypto asset securities.”
Stoner Cats features Kutcher and Kunis alongside a host of stars—including veteran actor Jane Fonda, comedian Chris Rock and musician Michael Bublé—and tells the story of a group of cats who become sentient after being exposed to their owner’s medical marijuana. The cats’ owner has Alzheimer’s disease.
In a plot twist worthy of its own screen time, the SEC announced in a press release this week that the team behind the series violated the Securities Act of 1933 “by offering and selling these crypto asset securities to the public in an unregistered offering that was not exempt from registration.”
While raising funds for the show, which debuted in 2021, the project’s marketing team “highlighted specific benefits of owning [the crypto asset securities], including the option for owners to resell their NFTs on the secondary market” for higher profit, per the statement.
These actions, said the SEC, “emphasized its expertise as Hollywood producers, its knowledge of crypto projects, and the well-known actors involved in the web series, leading investors to expect profits because a successful web series could cause the resale value of the Stoner Cats NFTs in the secondary market to rise.”
Each of the NFTs were worth around $800. In purchasing them, it was sold to fans that they would get exclusive access to the animated series. Marketing for the show tied its success to the increased value of the NFTs.
It was also found by the SEC that Stoner Cats 2 LLC (SC2) had created the token to give itself a 2.5 percent royalty for “each secondary market transaction in the NFTs and it encouraged individuals to buy and sell the NFTs, leading purchasers to spend more than $20 million in at least 10,000 transactions.”
“Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, SC2 agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a civil penalty of $1 million,” the SEC further stated. “The order establishes a Fair Fund to return monies that injured investors paid to purchase the NFTs. SC2 also agreed to destroy all NFTs in its possession or control and publish notice of the order on its website and social media channels.”
As well as voicing a character on Stoner Cats, Kunis is listed on IMBD.com as one of the series’ executive producers.
Newsweek has contacted representatives of Kunis and Kutcher for comment.
It has been a rocky few days for Kutcher and Kunis, who recently issued a public apology for the character letters they wrote supporting Danny Masterson, who was last week sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for raping two women.
“We are aware of the pain that has been caused by the character letters we wrote on behalf of Danny Masterson,” Kutcher said.
Kunis added: “We support victims. We have done this historically through our work and will continue to do so in the future.”
The couple added that the letters were not intended to question the legitimacy of the verdict.
Kutcher said Masterson’s family reached out to him and Kunis and asked them to write character letters ahead of his sentencing. He added that the letters were intended to show the character of the person they knew for 25 years.
Kunis and Kutcher worked alongside Masterson on That ’70s Show, which ran for eight seasons between 1998 and 2006.
Following his conviction in May, Masterson was last week sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women and will be eligible for parole in 25 years.