Top 10 Most Expensive NFTs Ever
The growing popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) led to insanely high prices for these digital collectibles in 2021 and even 2022.
Specifically, some NFTs managed to attract head-spinning bids from investors. To record some of the historic milestones, we’ve compiled a list of the most expensive NFT art pieces ever sold, most of which have brought in tens of millions of dollars in sales.
Incredible NFT Prices
The market for NFTs started to pick up steam in early 2021, breaking through into the mainstream and disrupting the art world and industries beyond it. Trading in NFTs hit $17.6 billion last year, increasing by a whopping 21,000% from 2020′s total of $82 million.
With celebrities and major companies launching their own NFT collections, these digital assets entered mainstream consciousness in a big way. By the end of 2021, more than 2.5 million crypto wallets belonged to people holding or trading NFTs, up from just 89,000 a year earlier. The number of buyers rose to 2.3 million from 75,000.
The surge in demand and excitement around NFTs further contributed to skyrocketing NFT prices. NFTs of collages, tweets, and even digital rocks were trading for millions of dollars, with people making a fortune simply by minting an NFT early.
Here are the top 10 most expensive NFTs ever sold:
1. The Merge – $91.8 million
The most expensive NFT in history is actually a series of NFTs, selling for an eye-watering $91.8m price tag in December of last year. The Merge was created by renowned digital artist Pak, whose works have grossed more than $350 million, and this piece was bought by 28,983 people who pitched in to snatch a total of 312,000 shares (each of which is an NFT) for nearly $92 million.
That’s pretty impressive considering that the starting price of each of these units was $575, only to increase by $25 every six hours. Ultimately, The Merge has made Pak the most valuable living artist in history, surpassing Jeff Koon’s 1986 painting Rabbit, which sold for $91 million.
The Merge comprises three big white masses containing a black background. The more mass investors acquired, the bigger their mass would become. Besides, the piece has an inbuilt scarcity mechanism, which ensures its token supply declines with time. Each transferred Merge token unites with the token of the recipient address, leading to more mass value and one token.
2. The First 5000 Days – $69.3 Million
The First 5000 Days is the second most expensive NFT sold so far. It was designed by Michael Winkelmann, a digital artist more famously known as Beeple. The piece was sold at Christie’s, with the first bid of approximately $100 placed by traditional buyers followed by bigger offers from cryptocurrency investors.
Since Beeple was popular among crypto users with big sales such as Crossroads, it took a few hours for the NFT to shoot up to $1+ million. On February 21, 2021, Beeple accepted a $69 million bid for the piece. MetaKovan, the founder and CEO of Metapurse, an NFT investment fund, submitted the bid.
3. Clock – $52.7 Million
Clock depicts a dynamic timer that counts the number of days Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has spent in prison. Assange is involved in a highly controversial case. He’s facing extradition from Britain to the US for multiple espionage charges and up to 175 years behind bars.
The NFT was curated by the digital artist Pak and Assange himself to support his legal bills. It was auctioned for 16,953 ETH in February 2022 to AssangeDAO, a decentralized organization (DAO) established to crowdfund the NFT sale. Apart from the ETH they used to acquire Clock, AssangeDAO still holds the 17,422 ETH they initially raised to purchase the NFT.
Pak and Assange not only curated Clock, but they also allowed anyone to create their own NFTs. They can tokenize a censored message for any price they want or for free. The message will turn into an image showing the words struck through, as though it was being censored. The proceeds for this NFT series will go to pro-freedom organizations Assange and Pak choose.
4. HUMAN ONE – $28.9 million
Making another appearance on our list is Beeple, who seems to have the gift for making multi-million NFTs – and HUMAN ONE is no exception. This non-fungible token sold for a whopping $28.9 million at a Christie’s auction last year.
The auctioneer called the artwork a “triumphant follow-up to the artist’s notorious EVERYDAYS: The First 5000 Days”, and it’s easy to see why. HUMAN ONE is a kinetic video sculpture with a corresponding dynamic NFT, dubbed by Beeple as the “the first portrait of a human born in the metaverse.”
The artwork is a hybrid of physical and digital technology, featuring what appears to be an astronaut forever striding through changing landscapes projected on the four walls of its 4-foot-by-4-foot box. Moreover, HUMAN ONE has a smart contract specially coded into it, which lets Beeple maintain remote control over what’s being displayed.
As such, unlike other NTFs, HUMAN ONE is a forever ‘in progress’ piece of digital artwork, making it worth paying the high price tag.
5. CryptoPunk #5822 – $23.7 million
CryptoPunk #5822 is the most expensive CryptoPunk NFT ever sold – the CEO of Chain, Deepak Thapliyal, purchased it for $23.7 million in February 2022. Also an ‘Alien’ CryptoPunk, it fetched a high amount because it forms the collection’s rarest Punk Type being only one of nine only punks in the entire 10,000 collections. Moreover, #5822 is among just 333 punks with a bandana.
CryptoPunks are 10,000 avatars on the Ethereum blockchain, created in 2017 by Larva Labs; the collection’s intellectual property was subsequently acquired by Yuga Labs in March 2022. Since its inception, it has become the perennial of NFT profile picture projects, giving rise to a whole generation of PFP NFTs – including the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
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6. Alien Cryptopunk #7523 – $11.75 million
The next most valuable NFT comes from the CryptoPunk family as well. Before the #5822 sale, #7523 was the most expensive CryptoPunk ever sold.
CryptoPunk #7523 was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $11.75 million during the COVID pandemic in June 2021. Not only it’s part of the extremely rare alien edition, but it’s also the only mask-wearing alien, which is what the buyer loved about this particular CryptoPunk.
7. TPunk #3442 – $10.5 million
We’ve seen why the Alien punks are so valuable, but there’s a different breed also catching the attention of investors – the TPunks. They’re seen as Tron’s version of CryptoPunks.
This one in particular resembles the Joker and while TPunks NFTs typically don’t sell for much, TPunk #3442 went for $10.5 million at a sale held last year and was bought by Tron co-founder and cryptocurrency mogul, Justin Sun. He did not keep the token, though, and has since donated it to the APENFT marketplace.
8. CryptoPunk #4156 — $10.26m
In a list largely dominated by the ever-popular CryptoPunks, #4156 ranks as the third most expensive Punk of all time. It was bought on December 9, 2021, just 10 months after a $1.25m sale. That’s a pretty solid return on investment!
9. CryptoPunk #5577 – $7.7 million
Even after the 2021 NFT frenzy, 2022 saw no signs of seeing a slowdown in the interest for CryptoPunks with CryptoPunk #4156 selling for $7.7 million back in February. This token was purchased by Robert Leshner, founder of the Compound DeFi protocol who announced his move with a “Yeehaw” tweet as CryptoPunk #5577 featuring a cowboy hat.
10. CryptoPunk #3100 – $7.57 Million
Rounding our Top 10 Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold list is CryptoPunk #3100, fetching $7.6 million during its sale on March 11, 2021.
#3100 is one of nine ‘Alien’ CryptoPunks that exist in the entire CryptoPunks collection and form the collection’s rarest punk type. It also features special attributes like a white and blue headband, of which only 450 out of 10,000 punks have – explaining its high value.
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