Top 10 Most Expensive NFT Sales
NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital assets used to represent digital art and collectibles. Their increasing popularity has made digital items more exclusive and valuable for creators and investors. Here are some of the priciest NFTs sold to date, including Beeple's Everydays: The First 5000 Days, which fetched $69.3 million, and several CryptoPunks that took over the list with exorbitant price tags.
The growth of NFTs has been exponential, and in recent years, tens of thousands of investors have shown interest in collecting digital art in various forms. As a result, some NFT sales have generated record-breaking prices.
What Is an NFT?
The unique and non-interchangeable digital assets represented by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are issued on blockchains. These assets can be documents, art, music, or even real estate. Each NFT has a unique identifier and is not fungible, unlike bitcoins which can be traded interchangeably.
NFT technology is used to prove the authenticity and ownership of these unique digital assets on the blockchain. NFTs can represent entire digital assets like play-to-earn gaming items or metaverse land, as well as tokenized versions of real-world assets.
What Is the Value of the NFT?
The value of an NFT is dependent on market supply and demand. It’s easier to evaluate the value of an NFT when it represents a physical asset. However, most NFTs exist only digitally. The rarity of each NFT unit and the supply of the NFT collection are other factors affecting the NFT's worth. NFTs with specific use cases tend to have a higher value, and the founding team, artist, and community can also affect its demand. An NFT's value can relate to its creator, use case, or market sentiment. Although many NFT projects have been successful, there have been many more failures. Always do your research before trading or investing in NFTs, and never invest more than you can afford to lose.
Most Expensive Sold NFTs
Here are some of the highest-priced NFT sales to date, as of May 2022. The prices listed reflect the sale prices at the time of the transactions.
Everydays: The First 5000 Days
In February 2021, a digital artwork named "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" was sold for $69.3 million in an auction at Christie's. The artwork is a compilation of 5,000 earlier artworks created by American graphic designer Mike Winkelmann, who is also known as Beeple. Beeple started uploading a new image every day for 13 years on his Instagram feed since 2007. The images, referred to as his "everydays" art pieces, usually feature post-apocalyptic landscapes and have a connection to current news or pop culture. The NFT collage represents Beeple's evolution as a digital artist. The buyer of this NFT was NFT investor Metakovan.
Clock is an NFT that features a dynamic timer that tracks the number of days Julian Assange has spent in prison. Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks and is facing extradition from the UK to the US on multiple espionage charges that could lead to a 175-year prison sentence. The NFT was curated by Pak, a digital artist, and Assange himself to help fund his legal bills.
It was sold for 16,953 ETH in February 2022 to AssangeDAO, a decentralized organization established to crowdfund the NFT sale. Besides the ETH used to purchase the NFT, AssangeDAO holds 17,422 ETH from the initial fundraising. Pak and Assange also allowed anyone to create their NFTs, which they can tokenize a censored message for any price they want or for free. These proceeds will go to pro-freedom organizations chosen by Pak and Assange.
In November 2021, American digital artist Beeple set another record with his NFT, HUMAN ONE. It was auctioned at Christie's for $28.9 million, and it's the first physical artwork created by Beeple. HUMAN ONE is a hybrid sculpture consisting of 4 digital screens and a 3D moving sculpture that endlessly displays a video of an astronaut traveling through various places during different times of the day. The artwork reflects Beeple's artistic ambitions that go beyond the digital realm.
In February 2022, CryptoPunk #5822 was sold to a blockchain technology startup CEO for 8,000 ETH, making it one of the most expensive NFTs ever sold. This pixelated NFT is from the rarest alien edition, with only 9 of them in the entire collection. It's also one of the 333 CryptoPunks that comes with a bandana, making it even more special. CryptoPunks remain one of the first and most popular NFT projects.
Sold in June 2021, the most expensive CryptoPunk before #5822 was #7523, which was auctioned at Sotheby's for $11.75 million during the COVID pandemic. #7523 is part of the rare alien edition, with only nine in existence, and it’s also the only mask-wearing alien. This unique feature was what drew the buyer to the NFT.
TPunks are seen by some as Tron's version of CryptoPunks, featuring pixelated faces with varying rarity and characteristics. Among the rarest TPunks is the joker-faced #3442, which was purchased by Justin Sun, CEO of Tron, for 120 million TRX in August 2021. This sale holds the record for the most expensive NFT ever sold on the Tron blockchain. However, Sun donated the TPunk to APENFT immediately after acquiring it.
Ape-themed CryptoPunks are among the rarest and most valuable NFTs out there. CryptoPunk #4156, featuring an ape with a blue bandana, is no exception. In February 2021, it was purchased for $1.25 million by someone who went by the pseudonym "Punk 4156." But later in the year, in December, it was sold for a staggering $10.26 million to an unknown buyer.
A cowboy hat-wearing CryptoPunk #5577 is the 8th most expensive NFT ever sold, having been auctioned off for 2,501 ETH in February 2022. Although not confirmed, there is speculation that the buyer was Robert Leshner, CEO of Compound Finance, who posted a tweet containing a “Yeehaw” after the purchase.
One of the rarest CryptoPunks is #3100, a headbanded alien sold for $7.58 million in March 2021. It has since been listed for 35,000 ETH, potentially making it the most expensive NFT ever sold from the CryptoPunk collection.
The sixth most expensive CryptoPunk is the pipe-smoking alien with a cap and sunglasses, CryptoPunk #7804. The previous owner of this NFT was the CEO of Figma, a design software company, who referred to it as the "digital Mona Lisa." In March 2021, it was sold for $7.57 million.
The popularity of NFTs is on the rise, and with it, we see more and more record-breaking sales. Although many NFTs are collectible works of art, there is an increasing number of NFTs being created with a variety of use cases. As NFTs continue to evolve, we can expect to see more utilities and adoptions beyond digital collectibles, which may lead to even higher sales.