Wiser! Essay: In January 2021, hardly anyone could spell N-F-T. By December, NFT was Word of the Year and the market was worth $40 billion. If you're asking yourself what that was all about...read on!
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Top 10 Top Selling NFTs of 2021
In 2021, NFT's emerged out of nowhere to become a $40 billion market. Although the tech had been around for over a decade with the emergence of blockchain technology, its use as a mainstream mechanism for digital asset ownership hadn't been. That was until Beeple hit the headlines with the auction at Christie's. Then it all kicked off.
To celebrate the year of the NFT, here's a rundown of the Top 10 NFT art sales in 2021.
#10/ #8857 by CryptoPunk - Sold for $6.6m
Because there are only 88 zombie CryptoPunks left, the whole NFT community pays attention when one is traded. The sale of CryptoPunk #8857 wasn't any different from the rest of the sales, except for its $6.6 million price tag!
The Punk #8857 sale was one of a spate of buys that took place over the summer of 2021, triggered by a legendary single day 2x Punk flip from NFT collector/influencer Keyboard Monkey. Although #8857 was never given a personality on Twitter or any other social media channel, we did see the birth of notable investor Cozomo de' Medici around this time in the zombie Punk market with the acquisition of CryptoPunk #3831.
#9/ "Crossroad" by Beeple - sold for $6.6m
The NFT artworlds most valuable artist is Beeple. He said he made "Crossroad" as "a reflection on the 2020 presidential race". He even made 2 different versions of the NFT art based on whether Trump or Biden became US President.
The art was created in October 2020 and was bought by Pablo Fraile, a well-known NFT collector. He paid $66,666 before selling it just four months later for a 100x gain! 👇
#8/ Ringer #109 by Dmitri Cherniak – Sold for $6.9m
Ringer #109 was the highest-selling NFT in 2021 from the Art Blocks Curated project by Dmitri Cherniak. This is a highly acclaimed generative art platform using AI to create the artwork.
The concept is simple: wrapping a string around a set of pegs.
#7/ "Right-click and Save As guy" by XCOPY - Sold for $7m
Right-Click and Save As guy
When it comes to NFT art, "Right-click and Save as guy" is a ledge. Minted three years ago (6th Dec 2018) by an artist that goes by the tag XCOPY, this piece of NFT art came years before the NFT craze exploded.
Then, in Feb 2021, this ahead-of-its-time artwork was pivotal in shaping public perception of NFTs. The artwork by XCOPY was featured in a story for the BBC just after Beeple’s landmark Everydays auction at Southeby's.
"Right-click and Save As guy" has changed ownership several times since its 2018 debut. It originally sold for around $90 (in ETH), and then a massive gain of $174k (again, ETH equivalent to USD at the time).
But the biggest change of hands was for 1600 ETH in Dec 2021.👇
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#6/ #3100 by CryptoPunk – Sold for $7m
CryptoPunk #3100 was the second big-ticket CryptoPunk sale to happen on 11th March.
#3100 is one of only 9 Aliens in the CryptoPunk project. It is the scarcity of this limited edition series that contributed to its exceptionally high price tag. #3100 is also unique for being the only character from the collection without a social media personality. 👇
#5/ #4156 by CryptoPunk - Sold for $10.2m
The CryptoPunk project started in 2017 as a series of 10,000 pieces of art. In December 2021, #4156 became the 3rd highest-selling CryptoPunk of the year when it went for 2,500 ETH.
The uniqueness of #4156 is that it is one of only 24 Apes that had been exclusively connected to NFT influencer and builder Punk4156 (find @punk4156 on Twitter here -130k followers.
#4/ #7523 by CryptoPunk - Sold for $11.8m
CryptoPunk #7523 became known as the Covid Alien Punk because it was the only CryptoPunk Alien character to wear a mask. That made this particular CryptoPunk both distinctive and unique.
Factors that no doubt contributed to it becoming the joint 2nd highest selling NFT of all time.
It was sold at a Sotheby's auction, in conjunction with Decentraland, on June 10th, 2021. The buyer was Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of digital sports company DraftKings
Interestingly, if you go to the Larva Labs list of top NFT sales, you won't find any record of this sale. It was not recorded on the blockchain because it was part of Sotheby's Natively Digital auction.
#3/ #7804 by CryptoPunk – Sold for $26m
CryptoPunks are algorithmically-generated 24x24 pixel art images.
The majority are punky-looking characters, with the odd Alien, Ape, of Zombie thrown in for good measure. Each CryptoPunk comes with its own profile page detailing their attributes and provenance.
CryptoPunk #7804 was one of two CryptoPunk sales that took place on the 11th of March 2021. The 4,200 ETH price tag was equivalent to $7.5 million at the time but would be worth approximately $17 million by the end of 2021.
You see in the tweet below that CryptoPunk #7804 was sold again in January 2022. This time for a whopping 10,100 ETH (equivalent to $26m at the time!). 👇
#2/ "Human One" by Beeple – Sold for $29m
Beeple's Human One
Beeple’s HUMAN ONE is unlike any other NFT.
Human One is a dynamically changing hybrid NFT that combines both physical and digital artwork. The artwork will constantly be updated by Beeple over his lifetime to reflect a changing world.
One part of Human One comes as a video sculpture. It is described by Beeple as "an always-on Kinetic 16k Video Sculpture that changes over 24 hours according to the time of the day."
The video changes over time to reflect a changing world view of the artist.
The other part of Human One comes as an NFT video that is updated several times a day, every day. The concept is that the NFT reflects the never-ending journey of life, changing constantly.
Hidden in the NFT are clues to find. These clues unlock additional NFTs that comes as a pair. One goes to whoever finds and unlocks the clue, the other one goes to the owner of Human One.
This version of the NFT was downloaded on March 20th 2022 and references Ukraine.
Human One was sold at auction in November 2021 for $29m, making it the second highest-selling NFT of all time.
#1/ "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" by Beeple – Sold for $69m
NFTs are not new. But in early 2021 a sale of an NFT at auction house Christie's sparked a craze that created a $40 billion market by the end of the year!
It was an NFT from artist Mike Winkelman, aka Beeple, that created the market as we know it today.
Called 'Everydays: The First 5000 Days', this is undoubtedly the single most important NFT sale of all time. It remains the highest-selling NFT of all time and puts Beeple in the top 3 of all living artists.
The point is that "Everydays" had a snowball effect, attracting the attention of mainstream media and bringing NFT into everyday vocabulary. By the end of 2021, Collin's Dictionary made "NFT" the Word Of The Year (except in China, where the term NFT is frowned upon. Instead they call them "digital assets").
This would not have happened without Beeple's Everyday NFT artwork.
So, What is Everydays?
Quite simply, Beeple creates artwork everyday. He does this to develop new skills, overcome his fear of starting. And finishing. The First 5,000 Days was literally that, his first 5,000 days of artwork.
w/ Other NFT Top Sales
Other notable NFT sales
- Ross Ulbricht – Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection – $5,544,990 (1,446 ETH)
- Edward Snowden – Stay Free – $5,406,343 (2,224 ETH)
- Mad Dog Jones – REPLICATOR – $4,144,000 (1,776 ETH)
- Bored Ape Yacht Club #8817 – $3,408,000
- FEWOCiOUS – Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD – $2,857,702 (654 ETH)
- Don Diablo – DΞSTINATION HΞXAGONIA – $2,409,894 (600 ETH)
- Refik Anadol – Machine Hallucinations – Space : Metaverse – $2,382,250 (593 ETH)
- Pak – Metarift – $1,977,491 (489 ETH)
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