Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique crypto assets generally used to represent crypto art and digital collectibles. The rise of NFTs created scarcity for digital objects and generated great value for creators and investors alike.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most expensive NFTs sold to date, such as Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days ($69.3 million) and a bunch of CryptoPunks that dominated the list with ultra-high price tags.
NFTs saw exponential growth in 2021, with tens of thousands of investors flocking to collect digital arts in different forms. Some NFT sales even generated record-breaking prices. What are NFTs, and why do they have value?
What is an NFT?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a token issued on a blockchain to represent a unique asset, which could be a document, piece of art, music, or even real estate. An NFT is not fungible because each one is a unique digital asset with a unique identifier.
Even if two NFTs look very similar, they are not interchangeable. So while one bitcoin is equal to and tradable to another bitcoin, an NFT is not. That’s why NFT technology is used to generate proof of authenticity and ownership on the blockchain. NFTs can be entire digital assets like play-to-earn gaming items and metaverse land or tokenized versions of real-world assets.
What gives NFTs value?
An NFT’s value is defined by market supply and demand. It’s usually easier to evaluate an NFT when it’s created as a representation of a physical asset. But most NFTs only exist on-chain, in the digital world.
Each NFT collection has a different supply, and each NFT unit can have a different rarity. But there are several other factors that can determine how much an NFT is worth. For example, limited series NFTs with specific use cases tend to be more valuable. The founding team, along with the artists and community, can also affect the demand for NFTs.
In other words, the value of an NFT could be related to who created it, its value in play-to-earn games, or simply community and market sentiment. There are many cases of successful NFT projects, but there are even more that have failed. Make sure to DYOR before trading or investing in NFTs and don’t use money you can’t afford to lose.
The most expensive NFTs ever sold
Let’s look at some of the most expensive NFTs ever sold as of May 2022. The prices mentioned below are based on the time of the sale.
Everydays: The First 5000 Days – $69.3 million
Everydays: The First 5000 Days is a digital artwork by American graphic designer Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple. This NFT was sold for $69.3 million in February 2021, purchased by NFT investor Metakovan through an auction sale at Christie’s.
The NFT is a collage of Beeple’s 5,000 earlier artworks. Since 2007, Beeple started uploading a new image to his Instagram feed every day for 13 years. His “everydays” art pieces are often set in post-apocalyptic landscapes, and usually have some relation to the current news or pop culture. This NFT collage can be considered a representation of Beeple’s development as a digital artist.
Clock – $52.7 million
Clock depicts a dynamic timer that counts the number of days Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has spent in prison. Assange is involved in a highly controversial case. He’s facing extradition from Britain to the US for multiple espionage charges and up to 175 years behind bars.
The NFT was curated by the digital artist Pak and Assange himself to support his legal bills. It was auctioned for 16,953 ETH in February 2022 to AssangeDAO, a decentralized organization (DAO) established to crowdfund the NFT sale. Apart from the ETH they used to acquire Clock, AssangeDAO still holds 17,422 ETH they initially raised to purchase the NFT.
Pak and Assange not only curated Clock, they also allowed anyone to create their own NFTs. They can tokenize a censored message for any price they want or for free. The message will turn into an image showing the words struck through, as though it was being censored. The proceeds for this NFT series will go to pro-freedom organizations Assange and Pak choose.
HUMAN ONE – $28.9 million
Another record-smashing NFT by Beeple, HUMAN ONE is the first physical artwork he creates. It was auctioned at Christie’s for $28.9 million in November 2021.
HUMAN ONE is a 3D moving sculpture with 4 digital screens. It displays an endless video of an astronaut journeying through places at different times of the day. The hybrid artwork reflects Beeple’s artistic ambitions beyond the digital realm.
CryptoPunk #5822 – $23.7 million
As one of the first famous NFT projects, these pixelated CryptoPunks continue to make the list of the most expensive NFTs ever sold. CryptoPunk #5822 was sold for 8,000 ETH in February 2022 to the CEO of a blockchain technology startup. It comes from the rarest alien edition — there’re only 9 of them in the entire NFT collection. What makes it extra special is that it’s also one of the 333 with a bandana.
CryptoPunk #7523 – $11.75 million
The next most valuable NFT comes from the CryptoPunk family as well. Before the #5822 sale, #7523 was the most expensive CryptoPunk ever sold.
CryptoPunk #7523 was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $11.75 million during the COVID pandemic in June 2021. Not only it’s part of the extremely rare alien edition, but it’s also the only mask-wearing alien, which is what the buyer loved about this particular CryptoPunk.
TPunk #3442 – $10.5 million
Some people consider TPunks as Tron’s version of CryptoPunks, with the familiar pixelated faces that carry different rarity and attributes. One of the rarest is this joker-face TPunk #3442. It was sold for 120 million TRX in August 2021 to Justin Sun, CEO of Tron. This was the most expensive NFT ever sold on the Tron blockchain. Sun didn’t keep the TPunk, though. He donated it to APENFT right after the purchase.
CryptoPunk #4156 – $10.26 million
Yes, another CryptoPunk among the most expensive NFTs. CryptoPunk #4156 is an ape with a blue bandana. Its previous owner was someone with a matching pseudonym “Punk 4156,” who acquired the NFT at $1.25 million in February 2021. However, he sold the NFT for $10.26 million in December of the same year.
CryptoPunk #5577 – $7.7 million
At #8 sits another ape-like CryptoPunk, this time with a cowboy hat. CryptoPunk #5577 was sold for 2,501 ETH in February 2022. Although not confirmed, many believe that the buyer was Robert Leshner, CEO of Compound Finance, who tweeted a “Yeehaw” after the purchase happened.
CryptoPunk #3100 – $7.58 million
Sold at $7.58 million in March 2021, CryptoPunk #3100 is also one of the nine rare alien punks and it also wears a headband. As of May 2022, this Punk is listed for 35,000 ETH. If it ever gets sold, it will be the biggest NFT sale in the history of CryptoPunks.
CryptoPunk #7804 – $7.57 million
CryptoPunk #7804 is the sixth CryptoPunk in our list. It’s a pipe-smoking alien with a cool cap and sunglasses. #7804 was owned by the CEO of the designer software company Figma, who proudly referred to it as the “digital Mona Lisa.” The NFT was sold for $7.57 million in March 2021.
Where can I buy NFTs?
You can get your first NFT at various NFT marketplaces. Depending on the blockchain network, you’ll need a compatible wallet and the supported cryptocurrencies for the purchase. For example, NFT prices on BNB Smart Chain (BSC) are almost always in BNB or BUSD, while NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain typically use ether (ETH).
You can buy the cryptocurrencies needed on the Binance exchange and transfer them to a wallet that can be connected to the NFT Marketplace.
If you’re purchasing NFTs on the Binance NFT Marketplace, you can simply move your funds to the Funding Wallet. Select the desired NFT and click [Buy Now] or [Make Offer]. Check out our NFT Marketplace guide for more details.
If you’re looking to buy NFTs on other marketplaces, browser extension wallets like Binance Chain Wallet and MetaMask are good options. After transferring your funds from Binance to your wallet, connect it to the NFT marketplace to get started. Don’t forget to check the URL you are visiting to ensure that you’re on the official website. If you connect your wallet to fake or suspicious websites, your funds might be stolen.
It’s no doubt that NFTs are growing in popularity and continuously creating new record-high sales. While most NFTs are simply collectible artworks, we have an increasing number of NFTs created with a variety of use cases. As NFTs mature, we can expect to see more utilities and adoptions than simply digital collectibles and possibly even higher sales.