I've fallen down the non-fungible token (NFT) rabbit hole over the past few months. It's weird seeing a new asset emerge so quickly. But, as somebody fascinated with digital content, I wanted to learn more about how creators can use NFTS to connect with their audiences.
At first, I didn't know how to interpret trending news headlines about Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann, selling his Everydays: The First 5000 Days NFT for $69 million via Christie's auction house.
(Two anonymous Singapore investors purchased this NFT alongside other NFTS by Beeple.)
After all, it looked like a jpeg.
So, I spent several weeks researching various expensive NFT sales and comparing them to Beeple's work.
Now, I'll explain what these expensive NFTS are and their corresponding sales figures.
Caveat: If you're new to NFTs, you'll need some ETH to buy one via a marketplace like Rarible or Opensea. At the time of writing, the price was around $3100, but prices fluctuate. You'll also need to pay the cost of gas before buying an NFT.
The Ethereum blockchain, like a busy motorway, gets congested, and users must pay a toll before using it. Depending on the network, gas fees cost a few dollars or a few hundred dollars. So, factor that in before purchasing an NFT.
Also, the price of NFTS and ETH fluctuates daily, so these figures may have changed (probably increased) by the time you read this. Alternatively, use USD via Nifty Gateway at a premium.
Spend more than five minutes on NFT Twitter, and you'll stumble across profile avatars that look like a pixelated image from a 1990s video game. Chances are, their profile picture is a picture of a CryptoPunk.
CryptoPunks are early examples of a successful NFT project built on the Ethereum blockchain. Developed by Larvalabs in 2018, only 10,000 exist.
The cheaper CryptoPunks NFTs regularly change hands-on Opensea and various NFT marketplaces for multiple six-figure amounts. Collectors acquire and rarely sell their digital assets.
CryptoPunk #3100 and #3784 are worth between $7.5 and $8 million as of October 2021.
Meanwhile, Australian NFT collector Daniel Maegaard was offered one million dollars for CryptoPunk #8348. He declined, telling Time magazine:
“People almost now tie that character to me “It’s almost like I’d be selling a part of myself if I ever sold him.”
2. Art Blocks Chromie Squiggle
The generative art collection Chromie Squiggle was released by Art Blocks in November 2020. It comprises 9175 pieces, which display a spectrum of random artificially generated colors and, well, squiggles. Each one cost 0.035 ETH to mint or buy on launch.
In September 2021, Chrome Squiggle #7583 sold for 922 Eth. That equates to approximately $2.8 million.
Fun fact: You can change the colors, rotation speeds, and background of a Squiggle via basic keyboard commands.
3. Art Blocks Fidenza
Tyler Hobb's Fidenza NFT project is another example of a generative art collection curated by Art Blocks. It depicts colorful rectangles, squares, curves, and blocks created with an algorithm and digital processing rules.
Comprising 999 unique pieces, Art Blocks released this collection in June 2021 for 0.17 ETH. That same month, a buyer purchased a Fidenza #313 for 0.58 ETH or $1,400.
In August 2020, a buyer picked Fidenza #313 up for 1,000 ETH. That converted to approximately $3 million, quite a return.
4. The Eternal Pump by Dmitri Cherniak
It costs a modest 1,500 ETH. Currently, NFT whale collector VincentVanDough owns this piece.
Autoglyphs is the first on-chain generative art project by Larva Labs, the same company behind CryptoPunks. Each one of these 512 experimental images is unique. In 2019, you could have minted an Autoglyph for 0.2 ETH (approximately $627 back then).
Autoglyphs are out of reach for almost all NFT investors. However, if you can find one for sale, it'll have a floor price of over 385 ETH. That's nearly $1.5 million. Or you can try placing a bid via auction house Sotheby's.
Popular NFT projects involve digital avatars, crazy-looking apes, and squiggles. Not DeafBeef!
This generative music NFT project emerged out of the COVID-2020 pandemic. Proving you don't need expensive tools to create art on the blockchain, the artist 0xDEAFBEEF used a cheap Linux laptop, an Emacs text editor, and a C compiler to create a series of generative sounds and images. If old-school coding sounded like music, it'd sound like DeafBeef.
Good luck buying one of the 221 available assets. Deafbeefs has a floor price of 77 Eth.
7. Beeple's Everydays: The 2020 Collection
Digital artist Beeple or Mike Winkelmann made headlines when his NFT project sold for an eye-watering $69 million via Christie's Auction House. The Everdays collection is an NFT containing all 5000 images Beeple created and published over the past 5,000 days.
But Beeple is still creating and shipping every day.
His latest project, Everdays: the 2020 collection, has a floor price of 29 Eth. That translates into approximately $90,0000. It'll be interesting to see what price it fetches in 2022 and beyond.
Gary Vaynerchuk is quickly becoming the leading authority on NFTs. His new venture project, VeeFriends, curates and sells NFTS to fans of Gary's work. Its growing Discord community boasts thousands of members, collectors ... and fans of Gary.
The average price of a VeeFriends NFT is approximately $50,800, while his Aspiring Alpaca sold for $206,000. Gary is also auctioning several pieces via Christie's auction house.
VeeFriends owners get access to an exclusive Discord community, airdrops from Gary's team, and a ticket for an NFT event in the US in 2022.
9. NBA Top Shots
Basketball fans can trade official NBA and WBNA collectibles that feature clips of the best moments from their favorite NBA players and games.
Over 600,000 fans are part of NBA Top Shots, developed by Dapper Labs. Many of these NFTS sold without marketing, based on word of mouth. Some cost a few dollars; others cost quite a bit more.
A clip of Lebron James from the 2020 finals (Series 1) sold for over $230,000. I'd expect the value of these and other sports-related NFTS to skyrocket in value in the coming years.
10. Damien Hirst's Currency
If you can't get your head around paying for what looks like a JPEG file, consider this expensive NFT collection. Heni is by British contemporary artist Damien Hirst.
The 10,000 NFTS correspond to 10,000 real-world art projects locked in a mysterious vault… somewhere in London.
Minting applications for Damien Hirst's Currency ended in July 2021. Since then, the project has generated over $26 million in sales. When I checked Opensea, a rarer piece claimed a floor price of 75 ETH. That's nearly $2.5 million.
11. Avid Lines
Avid lines is another example of generative art. It was created and curated by FingerprintsDAO and Arihz. It's kind of like a remix of Autoglyphs, specifically Autoglyph #433.
Minting for one of the 500 pieces involved a dutch auction that started at 3 ETH. It closed in late July 2021.
The average price of an Avidlines piece is $33,000. As for the most expensive Average lines NFT? Avidlines #2801205620 sold for $179,000 in August 2020.
12. Cool Cats
Using Ethereum's blockchain, Cool Cats are a set of random, programmatically generated NFTs. Ten thousand of these cats exist, with a range of colors, faces, and body features.
Minting cost approximately 0.02 ETH. Currently, the average price sits at $26,200, while the most expensive Coolcat, #8875, sold for $242,000 in August 2021. In addition, the developers are planning related merch, giveaways, and free airdrops of future NFTS for holders.
13. Kevin Abosch's Conceptual Art
In 2010, conceptual digital artist Kevin Abosch took photos of potatoes and other objects and turned them into a digital art collection. In 2016, Abosch sold Potato #345 to a digital art collector for over €1 million. He told CNN.
“This thing that is common, pulled from the earth, covered in dirty, the general public saw that as absurd,”
In 2018, Abosch had his blood taken. He then used a rubber stamp to imprint his blood on paper and create physical art.
The stamp had a blockchain contract address, which Abosch then used to create virtual art. Essentially, the string of numbers and letters, in blood, is also a contract address for his token: (IAMACOIN).
Rose later created an NFT based on a digital photo of a red rose. Ten buyers bought the Forever Rose NFT project for $1 million in 2021. These sales place him alongside Beeple as one of the richest living artists alive today.
14. Jack Dorsey's First Tweet
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey promoted an NFT of his first tweet:
It sold for $2.9 million to Bridge Oracle, an investment group.
Chief executive Sina Estavi posted on Twitter after the sale:
"This is not just a tweet. I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting."
Whether you believe a tweet compares with the Mona Lisa or not, its sale is an excellent promotional opportunity for NFTS.
Dorsey told the BBC he plans to convert the proceeds to Bitcoin and donate to Give Directly's Africa Response fund.
Most Expensive NFTs: The Final Word
The most expensive NFT artwork projects available today are beyond the price range of everyday investors. So much for the days of the starving artist.
That said, after spending several hours researching these digital assets, my key takeaway is that we're still incredibly early to NFTs. Many of these projects minted over the past 12-36 months.
So if you're considering investing in a new project, it could pay handsome dividends in the coming years, assuming the market doesn't tank first, i.e., DYOR. On the other hand, if you're not interested in investing, the story of these expensive NFTS is indicative of the future direction of the creator economy.
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