What Are CryptoPunks and Why Are They Worth So Much?

non fungible token digital art
filo / iStock.com

Lots of cryptocurrency investors are jumping on the non-fungible token bandwagon and scooping up CryptoPunks for a lot of money. Even financial corporations are getting in the game. Visa recently announced that they bought one of these NFT-based digital avatars for about $150,000 in Ethereum. Keep reading to find out what CryptoPunks are and why they are so valuable.

What Are CryptoPunks?

CryptoPunks are one of the first collections of NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. Think of these 10,000 avatars as a collection of digital art characters. Sparking the modern CryptoArt trend, each CryptoPunk is unique — meaning that no two characters are exactly alike.

How CryptoPunks Got Started

Larva Labs, a company created by two Canadian self-proclaimed creative technologists Matt Hall and John Watkinson, created the CryptoPunks art project on the blockchain in New York. Global, multi-platform media and entertainment company, Mashable, predicted that CryptoPunks could change the way people think about digital art.

CryptoPunks’ Inception

In 2017, the software developers, Matt and John, created a few lines of code, generating thousands of digital characters and a software program of marketable digital art that could be sold and owned. The result was a 10,000-piece collection of 24×24, 8-bit-style eccentric-looking pixel art images.

Building Wealth

Inspired by the 1970s London punk movement, the CryptoPunk creators designed the digital characters as a collection of “non-conformists and misfits,” according to Hall and Watkinson.

How Do You Buy CryptoPunks?

The Ethereum technology platform is where digital currency, global payments and other digital applications take place. Etherum is a decentralized financial system and digital economic community where creators can earn interest, send, receive, borrow and stream finances worldwide.

Initially, anyone with an Ethereum wallet could claim CryptoPunks for free. All 10,000 characters were quickly claimed. Now, if you want to own one, you have to purchase it from an owner on the blockchain marketplace.

When you bid on, buy and sell CryptoPunks on the blockchain marketplace, you can see the status of each Punk based on the color of their background.

  • A blue background indicates that a CryptoPunk is not for sale and does not have any bids at that time.
  • A CryptoPunk with a red background symbolizes the owner has placed it for sale.
  • CryptoPunks with a purple background have an active bid for them.

Three Steps To Buying a CryptoPunk

Here’s how you can get a CryptoPunk for yourself.

  1. Download and install the MetaMask Chrome browser plugin to access your Ethereum account.
  2. In the MetaMask plugin, buy some Ether from Coinbase.
  3. Bid on, buy and sell CryptoPunks directly from the interface.

How Costly Are CryptoPunks?

Larva Labs lists all the CryptoPunks currently for sale. Here is a list of some CryptoPunks with their accessories and current market status.

Designator Accessories Current Market Status
CryptoPunk 4318 (Female) Green Clown Eyes, Thin Mohawk, Earring 92 Ethereum ($329,605)
CryptoPunk 4036 (Female) Green Clown Eyes, Earring, Wild Hair, Purple Lipstick 95.50 Ethereum ($342,342)
CryptoPunk 9865 (Male) Vampire Hair, Luxurious Beard, Classic Shades 144.40 Ethereum ($422,641)
CryptoPunk 9697 (Male) Eye Mask, Forward Cap, Earring 120 Ethereum ($334,748)

NFT industry data aggregator CryptoSlam states that Larva Labs’ overall minimum transaction volume is $200 million. The price of CryptoPunks ranges from $30,000 to $10 million in Ethereum.

Larva Labs lists the cheapest CryptoPunk at 67.67 Ethereum, which equals about $225,000.

Building Wealth

Purchasing Strategies

CryptoPunks positions can help diversify investors’ cryptocurrency portfolios. However, some investors use purchasing CryptoPunks as a gambling strategy. This pump-and-dump technique has been a cause of increasing sales prices of the digital artwork collectibles.

The Future of CryptoPunks

As mentioned earlier, Visa is one of the latest companies to enter the NFT market. It purchased CryptoPunk 7610, a female Punk with green clown eyes, a mohawk and bright, hot red lipstick for $150,000.

An NFT is a verified asset using blockchain technology. A computer network records transactions and proves buyers’ authenticity of ownership of the tokens.

NFTs cannot be exchanged with other NFTs like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This restriction contributes to the scarcity of NFTs and increases their value. Some experts compare buying and collecting CryptoPunks to trading collectible items like cards and physical works of art.

Visa’s head of crypto predicts that NFTs, including CryptoPunks, will have an important part in the future of commerce, retail, entertainment and social media.

5 of the Most Valuable CryptoPunks on the Market

CryptoPunks are increasing in value, recently raking in over $100 million in sales volume. Here are the current five most valuable CryptoPunks.

CryptoPunk Type Value
CryptoPunk 3100 Alien $7.68 million
CryptoPunk 7804 Alien $7.68 million
CryptoPunk 5217 Ape $5.47 million
CryptoPunk 7252 Zombie $5.34 million
CryptoPunk 2338 Zombie $4.38 million

Who Owns the Most CryptoPunks?

A few celebrities and influencers have a monopoly on CryptoPunks ownership. Some of their names you may or may not recognize.

  • Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, American music producer, business mogul, rapper and songwriter owns CryptoPunk 6095, which he bought for over $120,000 worth of Ethereum. He uses this Punk as his Twitter profile photo.
  • Electronic dance music artist Steve Aoki purchased CryptoPunk 6473 for 65 Ethereum. He owns other NFTs estimated to be valued at more than $250,000.
  • American entrepreneur Gary Vee owns 59 CryptoPunks, including Ape Punk 2140 and Zombie Punk 2424. He bought his Ape Punk for over $3.7 million, which is the highest-selling Ape CryptoPunk to date.

Good To Know

CryptoPunks creators Matt Hall and John Watkinson are selling their collection of digital characters in a single set featuring the original series’ best features. The nine characters in this collection have a mohawk, hoodie, wild hair, oversized sunglasses, earrings, mutton chops and other distinguishing characteristics.

CryptoPunks investors like billionaire artist Shawn Carter have brought more mainstream attention to NFTs. They lead the way in digital art investment as a way to generate wealth and be poised for financial freedom.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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