When we take a look at the prices that appear when we google the word NFT, millions of questions will assault our astonished mind. Today, it is my turn to develop a list of the 20 most expensive NFTs in history.
However, if you still can’t understand the reason why these NFTs have been acquired for sums of money that most of the human beings that ever inhabit this earth can only dream of, don’t feel alone.
Even those of us who find ourselves immersed in this ecosystem on a daily basis cannot help but be amazed when we review the following list. Now, let’s get to know the NFTs that occupy this unthinkable place of privilege.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all the NFTs that will occupy this list have been created and subsequently sold on the Ethereum network. There is only one exception, number 6 created and sold on the controversial Tron blockchain. In any case, the 19 remaining ones are evidence of the preponderant place that the Ethereum network occupies in the crypto ecosystem, extending beyond the boundaries of the DeFi world, to lead the digital art industry as well.
For those of you with keen eyes, you may have noticed that the final phrase, “digital art”, gives us a clue as to what type of NFTs we will be looking at in the following list. While we often mention that NFTs, given their extremely unique and flexible characteristics, are capable of revolutionizing the world, today we will focus only on NFTs developed as pieces of digital art.
It’s time for us to start getting to know the long-awaited list, we start from lowest to highest, taking into account the price of ETH at the time they were acquired. Let’s go for it!
Created by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, it was sold to PleasrDAO (DAO for group purchasing of NFTs) for $5.4 million in April 2021. The amount raised, went to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
This NFT related to a court case that for many people represents a great injustice, was acquired by PleasrDAO who thus expressed its support for freedom of expression with the disbursement of this sum of money.
Ringers #879, is known in the ecosystem as “the goose ringer”. It is the only NFT of Dmitri Cherniak’s innovative generative project, sold in August 2021. The buyer was Three Arrows Capital, a cryptocurrency investment firm based in Singapore, which lately was involved in scandalous events concerning the handling of the funds it managed. Anyway, in their coffers they still have one of the most expensive NFTs in history.
Justin Sun, controversial founder of the TRON blockchain, was the gracious buyer of this digital artwork. Proceeds from the sale were donated to the Open Earth Foundation. This NFT, was part of Beeple’s famous “Everydays” series, a collection that we will find again in this ranking.
Accompanied by the caption “together we can solve this”, referring to the climate crisis that our planet is going through.
On November 4, 2021, user “SuperRare jpeggy”, who also owns XCOPY’s EVADER work, acquired this NFT. A Coin for the Ferryman dates back to the beginning of the enigmatic creator’s career as a crypto-artist. Originally sold for $139 in 2018, the NFT would not change hands again until November 2021, just days before the price of ETH reached its all-time high.
After an auction that stretched over a long 6 months, in early December 2021 Ross Ulbricht’s first NFT, “FreeRoss”, climbed to the list of the world’s most expensive NFTs.
Contained within Ross Ulbricht’s Genesis Collection of NFTs, proceeds from the sale went not only to efforts to free Ulbricht from prison, but also to the creation of a donor-advised fund called Art4Giving. Proceeds from this fund go to alleviate the suffering of the incarcerated and their families.
The animated artwork, “minted” in 2018, depicts the “underworld” ferryman transporting a man across the River Styx. Known for his dark, abstract and dystopian illustrations, London-based XCOPY often uses motion, flickering or glitching effects in his artwork. His prestigious past once again gives one of his NFTs a place among the most expensive in history.
NFT number 14 in our listing of the day, was “minted” on October 30, 2020, and sold for about $66,666 to influential collector Pablo Fraile. Four months later, it found a new home with collector “anonymous10”.
“Crossroad” became a meme, surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential race. It was born as a reflection of the political tension in the United States, and Beeple said to have had multiple versions of the NFT ready depending on who won the presidential race.
13. CryptoPunk #8857: $6.63 million (2.000 ETH)
The first CryptoPunk to appear on our list of the world’s most expensive NFTs is number #8857. On September 11, 2021, it was sold for about $6.63 million.
The hefty price is related to the euphoric state of the market after the famous sale of collector Keyboard Monkey, who bought a ZombiPunk and managed to sell it less than 24 hours later for almost a million dollars profit. At this stage, known as the “ZombiPunk heyday”, we find the birth of prominent investor Cozomo de’ Medici, none other than Snoop Dog, who snapped up CryptoPunk #3831.
It was, fittingly, Cozomo de’ Medici, who for about $7 million on December 9, 2021, acquired this NFT. The iconic piece helped mark a shift in public perception about NFTs and digital art by making its appearance on BBC World News, shortly after Beeple’s historic “Everydays “auction.
Among the most important sales of Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers project is Ringers #109. Hailed for its complexity as a piece of generative art, #109, sold for over $7 million in October 2021, further cementing the importance of the Art Blocks project. Beyond the discussion surrounding this work, which was accused of plagiarism, its place among the 20 most expensive NFTs in history is assured.
The second CryptoPunk in the ranking, precisely #7804, was one of two major “AlienPunks” sales that occurred on March 11, 2021. Purchased for the equivalent of $7.5 million at the time, the price of 4,200 ETH would amount to almost $17 million by the end of 2021.
#7804 has some extremely original features, as it is one of only nine aliens in the collection.
CryptoPunk #3100, this is the second big sale of March 11, 2021. Like punk #7804, it is one of the 9 “mined” aliens in this collection. Its owner remains a mystery on social media.
The list of the most expensive NFTs on the market continues with a new CryptoPunk. It is one of the 24 “ApePunks”, which features one of the 142 cowboy hats in the collection. Sold in February 2022 for 2500 ETH, its buyer is suspected to be Robert Leshner, CEO of Compound Finance, who tweeted an enthusiastic “Yeehaw” after the sale.
On December 9, 2021, CryptoPunk #4156 was sold for an estimated $10.2 million. Although CryptoPunk #4156 is far from occupying the number one spot of the most expensive NFTs in history, it was certainly the most renowned sale of a Punk in the year 2021. That’s because this jumpsuit with a bandana, had become synonymous with the personality of the prominent NFTs influencer known as Punk4156. This sale, really felt like the end of an era in the “crypto-twitter” scene.
Justin Sun, is again featured in this ranking, having acquired this rare “JokerTpunk” in August 2021. Sun is a great connoisseur of the NFT environment. He was even an active bidder for Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5,000 Days”, being outbid by $250,000 at the last minute of the auction.
As far as NFTs are concerned, it often seems that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and, also, of trying to make money. The case of the Tpunks is no exception. Inspired by the famous NFT collection known as CryptoPunks, these are 10,000 “Tpunks”, created on the TRON blockchain, which happens to be an exact copy of the Ethereum blockchain.
Named “COVIDAlien” due to its face mask, “CryptoPunk” #7523 was the largest sale of this collection in 2021. Not least of all, this sale is not reflected on the blockchain, as it occurred as part of Sotheby’s Natively Digital auction.
Prior to setting foot inside the top 3 most expensive NFTs in the world, we came across the most expensive CryptoPunk ever sold. It is #5822.
Alien in style and adorned with a blue scarf, it was sold for about $23 million on February 12, 2022. The buyer is the CEO of Chain, Deepak Thapliyal.
Beeple’s “Human One” was auctioned as part of Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale on November 9, 2021.
“Human One” is a very unique NFT. It is the acclaimed artist’s first physical piece of NFTs. Both the NFT and the electronic sculpture were auctioned as a single lot, with a price tag of $28.9 million, making it the third most expensive NFT in the world.
In February 2022, Julian Assange and Pak’s NFT Clock became the second most expensive ever sold. Representing a timer that counts the number of days Assange has spent in prison, this NFT was part of Pak and Assange’s Censored collection.
Pak has chosen to remain anonymous throughout his entire career, while becoming one of the most profitable living artists. The NFT, was acquired by AssangeDAO, an organization whose primary mission is to fight for the freedom of the WikiLeaks founder.
The most famous sale of an NFT, as well as the most expensive in history, took place in 2021 and was the christened “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for the sum of $69.3 million.
Not only was it the most expensive NFT sale in history, but the event created a snowball effect throughout the media and brought the term “NFT” into homes around the world. Before Christie’s decided to go all in on NFTs through its online auctions, “mining,” collecting and trading NFTs was considered, at best, a niche activity. After the worldwide impact Beeple generated, it became clear – even to Saturday Night Live – that the time for NFTs had come.
The numbers reviewed in this article are shocking and may leave us speechless. Understanding the value that their “holders” have been willing to pay is not simple, nor can we trace a step-by-step guide that will lead us to unveil the reasons for reaching such disbursements.
The key word here is “art”. Since time immemorial, art has been valued by every human being in a different or, as they say, subjective way.
This list contains more than one work with an important social content. In any case, there are others that can be considered more frivolous, being “simple” art. We will never be able to know what intimate emotions have been aroused by these NFT, to be catapulted without further ado to this article.
The blockchain ecosystem reproduces the interactions that take place in our everyday world, in a particular environment. Collectors occupy, also in it, an important place. And once again, they will make themselves felt, with the noisy disbursement of millions of dollars.