We’re well into 2022 but the NFT craze isn’t going anywhere it seems. Investors and collectors flush of money have continued pouring in money into non-fungible tokens, from cat memes to pixelated apes to popular NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club and a lot - and we mean a lot - of punk-like avatars.
In fact, sales are on pace to surpass last year’s total and they’re on track to hitting a total $90 billion by the end of 2022 despite NFTs prices seeing a downturn as of late.
But what’s really moving the market and what makes people want to buy NFTs for tens of millions of dollars? How about you see it for yourself as you go through the list of the top 10 most expensive NFTs sold so far.
10 Most Expensive NFTs
1. The Merge - $91.8 million
The most expensive NFT in history is actually a series of NFTs, selling for a 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.
2. The First 5000 Days - $69.3 million
Breaking record after record, the world of NFT art really smashed it last year. And bringing the market to its highest high was digital artist Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann who became a household name after selling a collage of 5000 pictures made one per day over more than thirteen years titled ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ at Christie’s first-ever digital art auction in March of 2021. The NFT was sold to Singapore-based crypto investor Vignesh Sundaresan, also known as MetaKovan, who is also the founder of the Metapurse NFT project.
As described by Christie's "the individual pieces are organized in loose chronological order: zooming in reveals pictures by turn abstract, fantastical, grotesque or absurd, deeply personal or representative of current events. Recurring themes include society’s obsession with and fear of technology; the desire for and resentment of wealth; and America’s recent political turbulence." Besides being the second most expensive NFT sold to date, Everydays is also the fourth most expensive work from a living artist ever sold at auction.
3. Clock - $52.7 million
The third most expensive NFT ever sold stands out from the rest on this list for being a token dedicated to a social cause. Titled “Clock”, this non-fungible token is a joint creation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Pak, and depicts as digital counter of the days Assange has spent behind bars at London’s Belmarsh Prison, where he’s being held awaiting extradition to the US over a number of espionage charges. It was created to raise funds toward Assange’s defense and it was auctioned for the equivalent of $52.7 million in February of 2022 to AssangeDAO, a decentralized organization (DAO) with over 10.000 Assange supporters, established to crowdfund the sale. The Clock NFT is part of a larger NFT collection called Censored, which features over 29,000 tokenized messages by buyers of the project. They can be viewed on OpenSea. The proceeds for this NFT series went to pro-freedom organizations Assange and Pak chose, including the Wau Holland Foundation, which supports Assange’s defense. This was not the first time this sort of NFT initiative hit the auction block as last year NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden raised $5.4 million by selling an NFT featuring his own face made from pages of a US appeals court decision
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
There are a few NFT collections to have achieved a cult-like status and the CryptoPunks are surely at the top of the most popular tokens, selling for record-breaking prices time after time. The project, which launched in 2017 by the hand of Larva Labs, was inspired by the London punk scene, the cyberpunk movement, and electronic music artists such as Daft Punk. Capping off the list of the most expensive CryptoPunks (and the fifth on the list of the most valuable NFTs) is CryptoPunk #5822. The token sold for roughly $23.7 million in February of this year and there’s seemingly good reason for the price tag; CryptoPunk #5822 is part of the series' rarest alien edition, of which only 9 exist out of the 10,000 punks available. On top of this, this token is one out of 333 others with a bandana. The NFT was purchased by Deepak Thapliyal, the CEO of Chain. And given how rare it is, we can expect it to remain one of the most expensive NFTs out there.
6. Alien Cryptopunk #7523 - $11.75 million
Alien CryptoPunks are a rare commodity in the crypto world and that’s why Alien Cryptopunk #7523 has made it to the 6th place of the most expensive NFTs ever sold. As one of the only 9 Alien punks minted by Larva Labs and comes with exclusive accessories like: earring (2459 punks have this), knitted cap (419 punks have this) and medical Mask (175 punks have this). Dubbed “Covid Alien,” CryptoPunk #7523 was bought by Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of DraftKings.
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 - $10.26 million
Making this one of the highest NFT sales to date is - yes, you guessed it - another Punk. This time is CryptoPunk #4156, which sold for $10.26 million last year. The sale was prompted by the pseudonymous collector Punk4156 becoming disillusioned with the NFT project and the way in which Larva Labs handled communication, licensing guidance, and community engagement. 4156 remains in the NFT scene, however, after having gained popularity by becoming a thought leader and launching Nouns, an NFT project that is building open-source IP.
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 - $7.6 million
And last but not least, CryptoPunk #3100. By now we already know that CryptoPunks have a special place in the hearts of NFT collectors and art lovers worldwide and the tenth most expensive NFT ever sold is none other than a CryptoPunk that also happens to be one of the rare alien avatars, wearing a white and blue headband. Only 450 other punks have headbands, which makes CryptoPunk #3100 even rarer.