February 14, 2022

From the world’s first “digital fragrance” to a tennis pro auctioning her right arm, NFTs are getting crazier by the minute. It’s hard to say if outré fetches a higher price because taste is so subjective. Last year, Canadian artist Mad Dog Jones sold REPLICATOR for US$4.1 million in April, making him the most expensive living Canadian artist. Let’s not forget about Beeple, who made headlines when his digital artwork was sold for US$69.3 million. NFT sales are transforming the art world and setting new records, regardless of whether you think digital collectibles are a fad. Here are five of the most expensive NFT artworks ever sold.

The Merge, US$91.8 million

Digital artist Pak broke a record with his latest creation, Merge, which fetched US$91.8 million on Gemini-owned Nifty Gateway—making it the most expensive NFT ever sold. This makes the enigmatic creator one of the richest artists today. A total of 28,983 collectors bagged 266,445 total units of what is referred to as “mass.” by December. Described as a “compelling mechanism novel to the world of digital art,” the state-of-the-art installation features a built-in scarcity mechanism that ensures token supply decreases over time. As a result, every Merge token transfer merges with the token in the recipient wallet, adding up the mass value and producing a single coin. In short, buyers get a dynamic NFT with their accumulated mass.

Everydays: The First 5000 Days, US$69.3 million

American graphic designer Mike Winklemann, best known as Beeple, drew an image of his Uncle in 2007, and posted it online. Subsequently, he started sharing more images on his Instagram (daily) till this day. For 13 years since May 1, 2007, the artist amassed over 5,000 individual images and created a massive collage. Then in March 2021, he created a huge stir when his magnum opus, titled Everydays: the First 5000 Days went for US$69.3 million at a Christie’s auction, making it his most expensive NFT sale. The digital mosaic, comprising individual images of  Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump, US President Joe Biden and other popular culture icons, was the first purely digital NFT-based artwork offered by a major auction house. Following the sale, Christie’s said Beeple, who resides in Charleston, is now ranked the “top three most valuable living artists” and is often credited for driving the NFT boom. Despite the eye-watering price, Metapurse, a crypto-based investment fund financed by pseudonymous founder Metakovan (a Singapore-based blockchain entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan) and managed by Twobadour (Anand Venkateswaran) are certain that this work of art is going to be a billion-dollar piece someday.

Human One, US$28.9 million

After the runaway success of Everydays: the First 5000 Days, Beeple made his second-most successful NFT artwork sale last November. Swiss entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ryan Zurrer bought Human One, a digital sculpture of an astronaut traversing different dystopian landscapes for US$28.9 million at an auction by Christie’s. According to Beeple, they had some TVs on rollers in their studio and were rolling them around in different shapes and patterns. So he decided to put them together into a box unit and discovered that this configuration of screens made a unique canvas—where anything they “put on it looked awesome.” The kinetic video sculpture, with a corresponding dynamic NFT—will continuously display artwork that evolves over time, though Beeple will have creative control over its content indefinitely. Noah Davis, head of digital sales at Christie’s, called the artwork a “triumphant follow-up to the artist’s notorious Everydays: The First 5000 Day.”

CryptoPunk #7523, US$11.75 million

Known as the project that inspired the modern CryptoArt movement, Cryptopunks are an assortment of 24×24 pixelated avatars comprising 10,000 unique collectible characters with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain. According to Michael Bouhanna, contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s, CryptoPunks have become among the most sought-after NFTs on the market since their launch in 2017.

Created by the creative technologists at Larva Labs, each CryptoPunk is an exclusive item with its own individual features and none of them is the same. Originally, each CryptoPunk was free, but many have been sold for millions of dollars. Last June, CryptoPunk #7523 went under the hammer for US$11.75 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Previously, this NFT was owned by a collector with the pseudonym Sillytuna, who also auctioned off the “first” NFT created by Kevin McCoy which he bought for US$1.47 million. Known as “Covid Alien,” CryptoPunk #7523 is a rare NFT. The bluish-greened skin character is one of nine “alien punks” in the entire series and is the only one wearing a mask. The buyer, Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie, has (according to Sotheby’s) set “a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk.”

CryptoPunk #3100, US$7.58 million

CryptoPunk #3100 is another one of the nine Alien ‘punks’ with bluish-green skin and wears an eye-catching white-and-blue headband. Within the whole collection, the majority of the Punk avatar profile pictures are humans; 3,840 females and 6,039 males. There are also 88 zombies and 24 apes. There are 87 additional attributes aside from each character type, and the attributes vary in rarity. 44 wear a beanie, 8 wear a choker, 78 have buck teeth and 55 sport a tiara. Eight CryptoPunks have no defining attributes, and only one has seven attributes.

On the same day, Beeple created history; CryptoPunk #3100, was sold for US$7.58 million. During the time of its sale, it was the highest-priced ‘punk’, beating the record set by #7804 a day before. The one-of-a-kind CryptoPunk is now up for sale at US$90.5 million. If a transaction is made, it will break the record for being the largest sale in the history of CryptoPunks.