Since the first NFT, Quantum, was issued in 2014, we have gone a long way. Since then, projects like as CryptoKitties, Rare Pepes, and CryptoPunks have creatively and monetarily changed the sector. The sales of non-fungible tokens have surged, and several of the most popular NFTs have generated millions of dollars. But how high can the numbers go when it comes to pricey NFTs?
It is difficult to say because the NFT ecosystem continually develops and changes. And as time passes, many new artists become millionaires, and an increasing number of celebrities spend seven figures on Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs (and others!). However, while we cannot predict how high the numbers will rise, we can identify the NFTs with the largest sales to date.
We have developed a list of the most expensive NFT artworks ever sold in order to document all of the historical milestones. Notably, while there have been collections and multi-NFT auctions that brought in millions upon millions of dollars, such as Pak’s renowned NFT, the $91.8 million Merge open edition, they are the largest single NFT sales ever.
And be sure to bookmark this page so you can return for the most recent information. As said, circumstances are changing fast, and we will add additional updates to this page as even larger NFT sales occur.
A few months after its first sale for 1,000 ETH, “All-Time High in the City” was sold for 1,630 ETH in January 2022. The 2018 coin portrays the ferryman of the underworld conveying a man across the river Styx.
XCopy is a London-based artist renowned for its dark, abstract, and apocalyptic images. His works frequently feature motion, flickering, or glitching effects.
Before NFTs acquired genuinely major mainstream news coverage, Beeple’s “Crossroad” became a 2020 presidential election meme. Beeple claims he had many versions of the work prepared, depending on who won the presidency, as a representation of the political turmoil in the United States.
The coin, which was initially struck on October 30, 2020, was purchased for $66,666 by the prominent collector Pablo Fraile. Only four months later, it found a new home with the anonymous10 collector.
Zombie CryptoPunks are among the most well-known NFTs to date. Why? They originated from one of the early NFT collections, CryptoPunks. In addition, there are only 88 CryptoPunk zombies in existence. Therefore, the whole NFT community takes note when one is exchanged. The sale of CryptoPunk #8857 was no exception, as the price tag of $6.6 million was certainly enough to get attention.
The selling of Punk #8857 was one of a series of acquisitions that occurred over the summer and fall of 2021. The huge price tag was largely caused by a notorious one-day transaction in which NFT collector Keyboard Monkey purchased a zombie Punk and sold it less than 24 hours later for a profit of over one million dollars. Many would call it the pinnacle of zombie NFT trading. With the acquisition of CryptoPunk #3831, the undead Punk market witnessed the debut of notable investor Cozomo de’ Medici around this time. However, #8857 was never assigned a personality on Twitter or other social media networks.
“Ringers,” which is technically named by Dmitri Cherniak, is one of the most cherished collections produced by the acclaimed generative art platform Art Blocks Curated. As one of the first projects to start in 2021, the historical significance of Cherniak’s attempt to enter the costly NFT bull market made the sale of Ringers #109 all the more intriguing.
With approximately $100 million in secondary trading volume, Ringers has remained a popular generative art token in the NFT ecosystem. Even in the middle of controversy regarding Cherniak’s original motivation for the project, Ringers has maintained its tremendous sales.
Next on our list of the most costly NFTs is CryptoPunk #7804 This NFT was one of two large alien Punk sales that took place on March 11, 2021. Purchased for the equivalent of $7.5 million at the time, 4,200 ETH would cost roughly $17 million by the end of 2021.
However, the value of this purchase extends far beyond its cost. We observed the development of NFT collector and social media influencer Peruggia almost soon after the Punk changed hands (who has been heavily speculated to be the alternate account of prominent investor Robert Leshner).
The second significant Punk sale to occur on March 11, 2021, was CryptoPunk #3100. This was also the final on-chain alien Punk sale of 2021. We would not witness another change of ownership until Sotheby’s sale of CryptoPunk #7523. (also on this list).
And while CryptoPunk #3100 is one of nine aliens in existence — making it a definitely influential Punk — similar to #8857, no one stepped up to give this prominent NFT a personality via social media.
This cowboy-hat-wearing punk was auctioned for 2,500 ETH in February 2022. It is one of 24 Ape punks and one of 142 wearing cowboy hats. It is thought to have been acquired by Robert Leshner, CEO of Compound Finance, who enthusiastically Tweeted “Yeehaw” following the transaction.
Although CryptoPunk #4156 was not the most popular NFT from the CryptoPunk family, it was without a doubt the most popular NFT trade for a Punk in 2021. This is because bandana ape #4156 has become linked with the personality of notable NFT influencer and builder Punk4156. Consequently, when the sales occurred, it felt like the end of an era in the NFT community.
The transaction also represented a crucial turning point for the CryptoPunk ecosystem. As the renowned Larva Labs project has long been recognized as one of the most significant NFT collections in existence, Punk4156’s objections to Larva Labs’ copyright restrictions were the cause of both this huge deal and the decline in Punk pricing towards the end of the year.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? The Tpunks NFT collection was inspired by the renowned NFT collection known as CryptoPunks. The Tpunks collection includes 10,000 avatars on the Tron network. In August of 2021, TRON creator Justin Sun obtained the uncommon “Joker” Tpunk. Sun has extensive knowledge of the NFT space. Actively bidding for “Everyday: the First 5,000 Days” by Beeple, he was outbid by $250,000 at the eleventh hour.
Due to its huge facemask, CryptoPunk #7523 was widely known as the “COVID Alien” in 2021. Importantly, the blockchain does not show this famous transaction, as it occurred in June as part of Sotheby’s Natively Digital auction.
Straybits, the initial minter of #7523, and Sillytuna, the second-ever collector of the Punk (who supplied it for sale), are both significant members of the NFT community. As a result, the transaction was viewed as a big victory for the NFT ecosystem and a significant step toward widespread NFT adoption.
The most expensive CryptoPunk ever sold was punk #5822. The alien-style punk with a blue bandana sold for $23 million on February 12, 2022, more than twice the price of the next highest-grossing punk. As one of just nine aliens in the collection, it was destined to fetch a premium price. The purchaser is Deepak Thapliyal, the chief executive officer of Chain. After the purchase, he posted a photo of his new punk. It came close to being the most popular NFT at the time of its release but fell short by a few million copies.
“HUMAN ONE” by Beeple is an NFT unlike any other. Both the NFT and the electronic sculpture were auctioned off as a single lot during Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale.
Given the enormous selling of Beeple’s Everydays (also on this list), many were uncertain how much this new, constantly-evolving digital masterpiece would get at auction. As Christie’s has proceeded to establish NFTs as genuine pieces of art, it is not surprising that Beeple’s HUMAN ONE would be second only to Beeple himself in 2021.
In February of 2022, Julian Assange and Pak’s Clock NFT became the second most expensive single NFT ever sold. The NFT portrays a timer that displays the number of days Assange has spent in jail. It was selected as part of Pak & Assange’s Censored collection, which also included a dynamic, open edition.
Pak has remained unidentified for their whole career while becoming one of the highest-grossing living musicians. Shortly after the sale concluded, they labeled the initiative on Twitter as “a drop with no creator, developer, platform, or middleman share,” or “from people, for people.”
AssangeDAO, an organization whose primary aim is to fight for the liberation of the WikiLeaks founder, acquired the artwork.
The most popular and costly NFT sale in 2021 was Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days. Not only was this the most expensive NFT sale ever, but the incident also caused a snowball effect in mainstream media and introduced the phrase “NFT” to households throughout the world.
Before Christie’s decided to take a risk on NFTs via its Online Auction, minting, collecting, and trading NFTs were considered, at best, a fringe activity. But once Beeple obtained the largest bag in the history of NFTs, it was evident — even to Saturday Night Live — that the moment of NFTs had arrived.
Honorable mention for the most expensive NFT sales
Although these pieces did not make our list of the most valuable NFTs, they nonetheless sold for outstanding sums.
Justin Sun purchased the “Ocean Front” NFT from Beeple for $6 million in March 2021. The caption for this work from Beeple’s “Everydays” series was “together we can fix this.” This is intended to relate to the climate change crisis. The sale proceeds were donated to the Open Earth Foundation. “A Coin for the Ferryman” by XCopy was also auctioned for $6,000,000 in 2021. This artwork is one of the artist’s earlier works.
Stay Free by Edward Snowden was sold for $5,4 million (2,224 ETH) in April 2021. The NFT shows Snowden’s iconic Platon image composed of court documents related to the momentous finding that the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance broke the law.
REPLICATOR by Mad Dog Jones was sold for $4,1 million in April 2021. According to the artist, REPLICATOR is the narrative of a machine across time. It is a reflection on prior kinds of innovative inventions and a metaphor for the continuity of contemporary technology. I am curious to see how collectors will react as the work progresses and the NFTs in their hands continue to produce new generations.”
This list would be incomplete without Bored Apes. In October 2021, Sotheby’s Metaverse auctioned off Ape #8817 for $3,4 million. The Ape is wearing a wool turtleneck, a rainbow spinner hat, and silver hoop earrings.
In September 2021, Bored Ape #3739 was sold for $2,9 million. The Ape is a six-trait gold fur ape with a sea captain’s hat, a black t-shirt, and laser eyes. According to Rarity Tools, Bored Ape #3749 is the twenty-seventh rarest ape based on these characteristics.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. Misunderstood” by FEWOCiOUS sold for $2.8 million in 2021. The file was in MP4 format. However, the winning bidder also received a life-size sculpture of the same title.
The third most costly NFT sale The BAYC sale #8585 is a surreal rainbow ape that sold for over $2.7 million on Opeasea. The Ape is seen chewing its lips while wearing an extravagant crown and crimson heart-shaped spectacles.
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