Why CryptoPunks are so Expensive?

If you look at the NFT space today, you'll see that several templates and features are common throughout collections. If you're wondering where these features came from, there's a good probability that the source is CryptoPunks. 

10,000 tokens were produced for the CryptoPunks collection, which established 10,000 as the standard supply for subsequent developers to use, however there is currently greater variety among new initiatives.

Then there is the PFP (profile picture) standard format, which consists of a group of characters that are all facing the same way and were put together by an algorithm using a form that is the same underneath but different superimposed qualities that are some of which are more uncommon than others. Yes, everything there is from CryptoPunks.

The collection also employs a vintage, pixelated design aesthetic that is now widely used in NFTs.

In other words, CryptoPunks are well-known and significant, but what really jumps out is how pricey they are. What specifically makes CryptoPunks valuable and what is their history, when one looks at the assets themselves, is basic and repetitive?

NFTs Before CryptoPunks

Although CryptoPunks were created in 2017, they were not the first NFTs ever. You'd have to go back to 2014 for that honor, when creator Kevin McCoy created a piece of art called Quantum on the Namecoin blockchain and founded a platform called Monegraph, which stands for monetized graphics.

The same year also saw the launch of Counterparty, a platform based on Bitcoin that enabled the creation and trading of distinctive crypto tokens, or NFTs. Early collections like Spells of Genesis and Rare Pepes, which were recently rediscovered by new NFT collectors, were among those made possible by Counterparty.

There were Colored Coins on the Bitcoin network prior to Counterparty and Quantum, however they may be seen as proto-NFTs that provided a foundation for further investigation.

CryptoPunks Change the Format

The CryptoPunks cryptocurrency was introduced on Ethereum in June 2017 by John Watkinson and Matt Hall's Larva Labs, paying respect to punks, cyberpunks, and cypherpunks. In the sense that it invented the idea of a PFP collection, it was the first ever collection in the PFP style.

The fact that they were first given away for free is an amazing component of the tale, especially when considering the price. In those early days, a CryptoPunk could be claimed by anybody with an Ethereum wallet, and they were quickly acquired when a Mashable piece made them more widely known.

Reading the piece today is intriguing since it makes the argument for NFTs long before most people were aware of the idea and mentions a zombie punk (now one of the most in-demand characteristics) being exchanged for $1.

From there, a market was created and punks were traded among the small group of Ethereum users who were there at the time. They somewhat increased in value right away but remained obscure to the general public.

Influence and Copycats

The frothy, WAGMI, NFT madness of 2021 is the reason why CryptoPunks skyrocket in value and begin to attract attention from sources outside the cryptocurrency field. The collection is covered by both crypto and tech media as well as outlets for the art world, and artifacts from CryptoPunks are offered for sale at Christie's and Sotheby's.

As a result, they have a significant impact on the NFT industry, with qualities like to CryptoPunks becoming widespread and many imitators emerging, such SolPunks on Solana and the now-defunct ThreadPunks on Cardano.

Bored Ape Yacht Club, the NFT collection with the largest market cap at the moment, makes use of the ape trait from CryptoPunks, but in 2022 the tale completes itself when Yuga Labs, the company that created BAYC, buys the IP rights to CryptoPunks.

Price History


In June 2017, CryptoPunks were free to claim, and throughout the remainder of the year, as cryptocurrencies went through a euphoric bull market rise, they traded at an average price of between 0.15 and 0.62 ETH, with average values reaching a high of almost $150.

Then, when crypto remained in the bear market lows over the lengthy crypto winter of 2018 into 2019, values fell back down in both ETH and USD terms.

Prices started to rise through 2020, and by the end of the year, CryptoPunks were selling on average for 8 or 9 ETH, which was around the equivalent of $5,000.

Then, during the 2021 cryptocurrency and NFT bull run, the really eye-catching sales started to take place, with the average sales price reaching a top of 131 ETH in October, which at the time—while crypto was at a cyclical high—was comparable to over half a million dollars.

A lot of nine CryptoPunks sold at Christie's in May 2021 for just under $17 million, but keep in mind that rare pieces fetch significantly greater prices. The top three CryptoPunks sales were $23.58 million, $10.35 million, and $7.82 million.

Right present, the floor price for CryptoPunks is 63.95 ETH, up from a fall of 43 ETH at the end of May. Last month, 85 CryptoPunks changed hands at an average cost of 75 ETH, or around $115,000

What makes CryptoPunks so Valuable?

The unique historical significance of CryptoPunks as both technological and artistic creations is a major aspect. In terms of technology, they belong to the crypto sector, which is a developing, financial industry with a reputation for significant speculative profits. At the same time, the art world that CryptoPunks have joined occasionally sets a high value on prominent objects.

CryptoPunks are a rare asset with flawless, provenance-locked blockchain technology. They operate as digital Veblen products, allowing owners to flex money and—some holders could argue—tech sophistication, and they have irreversibly affected the whole NFT environment.

Claims that CryptoPunks lack artistry or creative worth are not only unfounded but also unnecessarily disparaging of generative work. However, this kind of critique is nothing new in the context of contemporary art. Tell it to the ghosts of Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Marcel Duchamp and let me know if Sotheby's gives you a discount.

credit: Lark Davis

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