The Most Expensive NFTs

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While NFTs are continually gaining traction, their cost is unlikely to surpass what the early trailblazers initially shelled out. Yet, half a century from now, they may still be sought-after assets for affluent collectors.
We've handpicked three of the costliest NFTs that have traded hands on the digital marketplace. Interestingly, according to art connoisseurs, their hefty price tags have no correlation with their artistic merit. Instead, their value was molded by a surge of hype and buttressed by a sensation of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that swept the crypto community when the first authorial tokens appeared.

Everydays, the First 5000 Days: The batlle for the token

Before its digitization, this artwork took almost thirteen years to come to fruition. That's the time artist Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann needed to craft a collage of 5000 images, each symbolizing the passage of time and its associated events.

Winkelmann embarked on his artistic journey in 2007. Minted in the ERC-20 format on February 16, 2021, by March 11, this NFT found a new home at a Sotheby's auction, fetching a cool $69.3 million.

Singapore-based crypto investor Vignesh Sundaresan bagged the prize. However, to secure his win, he had to up his bid repeatedly until it reached a staggering 42,329 ETH. At that point, other contenders, including Justin Sun, who offered a hefty $60.25 million for the piece but withdrew when his price was outdone by $250,000 within a minute, threw in the towel. The bidding war ignited at a mere $100 and escalated to a million by day's end. The fiercest rivals stepped up a mere two hours before the auction's closure, catapulting the price many times over. 
Everydays, the First 5000 Days. Source:

Everydays, the First 5000 Days. Source:

The NFT comes in a size of 21,069 x 21,069 pixels (319,168,313 bytes)

On a side note, another piece by Beeple, "Crossroad," later commanded $66,666 on the Nifty Gateway platform, only to be resold on the secondary market for a hefty $6.6 million.

"Clock": A sale with a philanthropic intent

"Clock," an NFT, was created by an artist known as Pak, who is renowned not only for their artworks but also for maintaining anonymity and using voice distortion mechanisms during interviews. All revenue generated from the sale of this piece was committed to cover the legal expenses of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. 

To procure this NFT, an entity called AssangeDAO was established, which drew around 10,000 participants. Together, they raised funds to purchase a digital depiction of a timer for $52.7 million (equivalent to 16,593 ETH at the time of the transaction). This timer was symbolic, marking down the minutes Assange had spent in custody. 

This took place on February 9, 2022.
NFT Clock. Source:

NFT Clock. Source:

This work's price can be largely attributed to its social significance, as the buyers are passionate supporters of privacy, freedom of speech, and empathizers of Assange's plight.

Among other socially impactful NFTs is "FreeRoss," a digitized sketch crafted by Ulbricht during his incarceration. Proceeds from its sale were directed to aid in the legal proceedings to facilitate the release of the infamous crypto inmate, and to financially assist the families of other convicts involved in the Silk Road case. Ulbricht's piece was auctioned off on the SuperRare platform, fetching $6.12 million.

Cryptopunk #7523: The power of a name

The depiction of a punk in a surgical cap and mask was created by Larva Labs on June 23, 2017. It was aptly named "COVID Allien" and sold at a Sotheby's auction on June 10, 2021, for $11.75 million. The collector, Shalom Meckenzie (nicknamed Sillytuna), is convinced of the prophetic abilities of the creators of the "COVID symbol," hence he has no regrets about the purchase. The fact that 419 other punks from Larva Labs also wore medical masks, and the collection's aesthetic minimalism, does not bother him.

The "Alien" collection consists of nine ERC-20 tokens, each measuring 24 x 24 pixels..
CryptoPunk #7523 Source:

CryptoPunk #7523 Source:

However, this alien was the sole one to strike it lucky. Its counterparts were sold at a significantly lesser price:

  • CryptoPunk #7804 fetched $7.5 million;
  • Cryptopunk #3100 secured $7.6 million;
  • Cryptopunk #4156 achieved $10.3 million;
  • Cryptopunk #6965 brought in a relatively humble $1.5 million.

Evaluating the cumulative worth of the collection, it's fair to say that CryptoPunk has emerged as the most commercially victorious project thus far. Its only potential rival might be the Tpunks NFT collection, which boasts 10,000 avatars on the Tron blockchain. The most expensive of them, the "Joker," was snapped up by Justin Sun for 20 million TRX (equivalent to $10.5 million).