The market for crypto collectibles released as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) exploded in 2021, with $2.5 billion in transaction volume in the first six months as NFTs entered the mainstream.
The boom has also seen NFT enthusiasts rediscovering some of the earliest non-fungible tokens, propelling the value of these crypto collectibles to hitherto-unknown highs.
One of these early NFT projects is CryptoPunks: a set of randomly generated pixel-based avatars. Some of the rarest, most desirable CryptoPunks have sold for millions of dollars. Seriously!
Here’s what you need to know about one of the most popular NFT collections around.
What are CryptoPunks?
CryptoPunks is the brainchild of New York-based Larva Labs, founded by Matt Hall and John Watkinson. The project began in 2017 as an experiment into the value of NFTs and art, ultimately helping to popularize what we know as crypto art today.
They are a type of cryptocurrency but quite different from Bitcoin or BNB. All 10,000 of the punks are unique NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. 3840 are female, 6039 are male. We also have a few apes, aliens, and zombies in the mix too.
A combination of different attributes mixed together makes sure each one of the 10,000 is entirely unique.
The punks were initially available and distributed for free. All you had to do to get one was pay the associated Ethereum transaction fee.
The popularity of these artworks has skyrocketed since then, along with NFTs in general. Christie’s auction house is even auctioning off collections with estimates that run into the millions.
This pale-looking alien punk with a headband currently holds the record for the highest-selling CryptoPunk at 4200 ETH, roughly $7.58 million at the time of sale in March 2021. In the second place, we have CryptoPunk #7804, which was sold for the same amount of ETH (roughly $7.57 million at the time of sale). The difference is due to rising ETH prices.
In terms of NFTs in general, these two are the second and third most expensive non-fungible tokens ever sold to date. Beeple’s EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS currently takes spot number one, selling for $69,346,250.
What’s so special about them?
One of the biggest drivers of demand for CryptoPunks is that they’re one of the oldest NFT projects around, and the first set of randomly generated profile pictures to really click with the crypto community. They’ve inspired a rising tide of profile picture NFT sets, from Bored Ape Yacht Club to Doodles and plenty more, each of which only reinforces the influence and legacy of the source project. CryptoPunks have some high-profile owners, too, such as rapper Jay-Z, YouTube personality Logan Paul and tennis champion Serena Williams.
On top of that, there are clear differentiators that make certain CryptoPunks more desirable and valuable to collectors. Alien avatars are the rarest of the randomized images, and as such, alien CryptoPunks are among the most expensive NFTs sold to date. Ape and zombie designs are also in demand.
Most of the CryptoPunks just look like humans with varying features and accessories, however, and the plainer-looking ones are close to the market floor in terms of asking price on NFT marketplaces.
Where can I buy CryptoPunks?
While it’s possible to view all of the CryptoPunks on OpenSea, the leading secondary marketplace for NFTs, you can only purchase them through Larva Labs’ website.
You will need to log in with an Ethereum crypto wallet, such as MetaMask, and then you can buy, bid on, and sell CryptoPunks through the official site. Helpfully, Larva Labs has a handy tracker that lets you see all of the listed Punks in order of price, from low to high.
While they’re no longer unique when it comes to NFTs, CryptoPunks at one time were pioneers in pure artistic value on blockchain. Unlike CryptoKitties, which has gamification elements, each individual punk is nothing more than a simple image. You can still see their massive popularity with the number of projects directly inspired by CryptoPunks.