Thanks to the Beeple artwork, which sold for USD 69.3 million in 2021, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become the in-thing. Indeed, Beeple and Larva Labs, an early arrival in this field, are responsible for some of the most expensive NFT artworks.
NFT artwork shares some characteristics with physical artwork such as originality and aesthetics. However, because they are NFTs, they are essentially a code – digital art that only exists on the internet.
Some of these NFTs are futuristic and propel the NFT artists to new heights. The REPLICATOR, for example, by Canadian artist Mad Dog Jones, whose real name is Michah Dowbak, copies itself every 28 days and generates a new NFT. According to the art seller, art auction firm Phillips, this piece is an “NFT experience containing seven unique generations of artworks.” Mad Dog Jones became the most valuable Canadian artist after his NFT artwork sold for 4.1 million dollars in April 2021.
The prices of NFT artwork have risen dramatically in the last two years, even if some of the NFT artworks were created approximately four years ago. A quick look at the sales numbers reveals that all of the highest-priced NFT artworks were purchased in 2021.
This demonstrates that the market for high-end NFT art is only getting started, with a lot more to come in the future years.
What is an NFT?
To figure out what an NFT is, we must first comprehend the concept of “fungibility”. The term may appear sophisticated, yet it is a straightforward concept that we can apply to our daily lives.
At its most basic level, a fungible item may be exchanged 1:1 with another object of the same categorization or description. Since each fungible unit is fundamentally identical, they can be swapped out.
Fungible goods/assets are divisible as well as interchangeable. This means they can be multiplied or divided without affecting the item’s essence. A dollar can be divided into any number of coins totaling 100 cents and yet represent the same amount of money.
On the other hand, non-fungible items are not directly interchangeable or replaceable.
Unlike fungible assets like Bitcoin, non-fungible assets have the following characteristics:
- An identity that is unique and verified
- Scarcity that can be proven
Non-fungibility is linked to identification in various ways. This is true regardless of whether it’s the identity of the item, its owner, or its creator.
When something is non-fungible, each unit has its own distinct identity, impacting its fundamental value. Differences in appearance, rarity, utility, and a variety of other characteristics directly impact a unit’s identity and thus its value.
That’s the strength of identity: the origin, story, and history of something all contribute to forming a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable asset. Even the best forgeries and reproductions are worth a fraction of an original. This is because the item in issue has a credible, fascinating history thanks to a well-known inventor.
Similarly, if something is directly linked to your personal identity, it is one-of-a-kind and valuable to you alone. For example, passports from the same country seem the same externally. However, the information inside means that only you may (legally) use yours.
Additionally, non-fungible assets aren’t divisible, with a few exceptions (such as fractionalized NFT real estate titles). They’re designed to work together to exist, function, and trade. We don’t buy a tenth of a painting or half of a car and expect them to serve or function as planned.
The potential of NFTs may be observed in these three critical traits, in addition to their inherent attractiveness as one-of-a-kind digital things that you genuinely own:
NFTs are stored on your own private blockchain address, which you control with your private key. Given that NFTs aren’t stored on a centralized server, they can’t be taken away by server failures, lack of maintenance, or account bans. You have complete freedom over your NFTs and can trade, sell, or give them out at any time.
Since a blockchain is effectively a decentralized database, blockchain explorers like EnjinX make records of token generation and transfers. This makes it simple to verify uniqueness and scarcity, making consumers confident that an NFT is genuine.
When several entities share a token standard, they will all be able to use the NFTs created by each other in ways that make sense within their game worlds.
An NFT provides a solution essentially anywhere uniqueness or identity plays an important role. This applies to art, gaming items, commemorative collectibles, digital rewards, or anything in between.
Why are NFTs so expensive?
The average price of NFTs on Ethereum is relatively low, yet some of them can be more expensive than you might expect. In February, an animated Gif of Nyan Cat — a popular internet meme from 2011 – was sold for more than $480,000 on the NFT Foundation website. Some artists have become millionaires overnight, and I’m sure you’re curious about which NFTs have sold for that much.
Beyond art, Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his “first tweet” as an NFT through the Valuables platform for $2.9 million, according to the average price of NFTs on Ethereum. So, why are NFTs on Ethereum so expensive? Remember that each NFT is one-of-a-kind and serves as a collector’s item that cannot be copied, making them uncommon and one-of-a-kind by design. Rarity makes them scarce, and when things are scarce, prices tend to rise.
People assign value to NFTs because they are scarce and built on cryptographic technology that prevents copying. Another reason behind the final price is that the price of an NFT is determined by the market which comprises all the buyers and sellers that trade that specific NFT. If there are more buyers than sellers, the price will climb because the gas fee will be higher.
Specifically, the Ethereum blockchain still has a congestion problem, even after its recent update 2.0. In comparison to its tremendous daily demand of over a trillion transactions per second (TPS), Ethereum, unlike other blockchains, currently handles a limited amount of transactions per second (TPS). However, congestion is inescapable because it is the most widely used method for minting NFTs, resulting in expensive NFT gas fees.
10 Most Expensive NFT Artworks Sold As Of January 2022
1) The Merge: $91.8 million
The Merge is a one-of-a-kind digital artwork in the realm of NFTs because, rather than being a single piece of work, it is fractured art. It was created by the acclaimed artist Pak and sold on the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway between December 2 and 4, 2021. It sold for a record-breaking USD 91.8 million, making it the most expensive art NFT ever sold to date.
The Merge has 28,983 collectors instead of a single owner. This is due to the artwork being sold in “mass” volumes. By the time the sale was completed on December 4th, the collectors had purchased a total of 266,445 masses.
2) Every day’s – The First 5000 days: $69.3 million
When Mike Winklemann, better known as Beeple, sold his single piece artwork titled Everydays: The First 5000 Days for USD 69.3 million at a Christie’s auction on March 11th, 2021, he set a new record. This is the most expensive NFT sale ever for a Beeple painting. Beeple created a collage of 5,000 distinct photos – one per day – from 2007 to 2020. He did this over a period of more than thirteen years.
It was the first time a major auction house offered a totally digital NFT-based artwork. Christie’s stated that Beeple is now among the “top three most valuable living painters” due to the sale.
Many consider Everydays: The First 5000 Days, the most expensive single-piece NFT artwork, to be the sale that kick-started the NFT boom through 2021. Collaborations with Nike and Katy Perry also elevated Beeple’s work even more.
3) Human One: $28.9 million
Beeple’s second-most successful NFT artwork sale occurred on November 9th, 2021. Human One sold for USD 28.9 million at a Christie’s auction. Ryan Zurrer, a Swiss entrepreneur and venture financier, was the buyer.
Beeple built a seven-foot-tall future humanoid sculpture that looks to be continually strolling across ever-changing landscapes. The 3D movement is displayed on four 16K resolution video screens arranged in a 44-foot box. According to Christie’s, the dynamic video sculpture had a polished aluminum metal and mahogany wood frame and two media servers.
Human One was offered alongside a dynamic NFT that was minted on October 28th, 2021. Beeple will have remote access and creative control over the work, which is unique. In other words, as long as the artist is alive, he can change the creative components, such as the scenery.
4) CryptoPunk #7523: $11.75 million
In the NFT ecosystem, CryptoPunks has long been one of the most sought-after tokens. CryptoPunks, one of the first NFT initiatives, was launched in 2017.
CryptoPunks is a collection of 10,000 tokens that their authors and collectors refer to as “punks.” Each character is a collectible character, similar to a trading card, and is sometimes referred to as the “OG” NFT collection. Because no two ‘punks’ are the same, each CryptoPunk is a one-of-a-kind object.
CryptoPunk #7523 was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for USD 11.75 million on June 10th, 2021, making it the most expensive ‘punk’ of all the collections. #7523 is one of the collection’s nine Alien series figures.
5) CryptoPunk #3100: $7.58 million
A crypto artwork known as CryptoPunk #3100 was sold for USD 7.58 million on the same day that Beeple made history. The #3100, like #7523, is one of the nine Alien ‘punks.’ It has bluish-green skin and a white-and-blue headband as its only distinguishing characteristic. Only 406 of the 10,000 people in the collection wear a headband, and only 333 have only one aspect.
It’s been in the headlines for a while because of the price it’s listed at. CryptoPunk #3100 was the highest-priced ‘punk’ at the time of its sale, slightly edging out #7804, which had established the record the day before. It is now for sale for USD 114.54. According to Larva Labs, it would become the most expensive NFT in history if realized.
6) CryptoPunk #7804
Another 10,000 Aliens is the ‘punk,’ who has shades and appears more like Sherlock Holmes. It made headlines on March 10th, 2021, when it sold for USD 7.57 million to Figma CEO Dylan Field, who labeled it his “digital Mona Lisa.”
One of the 254 who wears their cap forward is the pipe-smoking figure, who wears little shades. The #7804, unlike the #3100, is not for sale.
7) Right-click and Save As Guy: $7 million
In early December 2021, “Right-click and Save As guy” was sold on the SuperRare marketplace for USD 7.08 million. It was purchased by ‘Cozomo de Medici,’ an internet user with an extensive collection of NFT digital collectibles.
Some assume that ‘Cozomo de Medici’ is rapper Snoop Dogg’s alter ego. Despite the American celebrity claiming to be the man behind the mask, the identification has yet to be officially verified.
8) Ringers 109: $6.9 million
In October 2021, the NFT was sold for USD 6.9 million, a world record for Art Blocks. The buyer of the NFT is unknown, but according to The Crypto Times, the seller was AKIRA, co-founder of NarcissusGLRY, who announced the transaction on Twitter.
9) A Coin for the Ferryman – $6 million
A Coin for the Ferryman, one of Xcopy’s early works, sold for USD 6.01 million on SuperRare on November 4th, 2021.
The artwork is a GIF that depicts a person’s face changing expressions throughout time. Xcopy issued it on April 20th, 2018.
10) Ocean Front: $6 million
Ocean Front by Beeple is much more than one of the most costly NFT paintings. It is a reminder to the rest of the world about the approaching devastation that unregulated climate change would bring.
This piece is part of Beeple’s “Everydays” series. It depicts a platform amid the ocean with a succession of trailers and containers stacked on top of each other. A tree grows beneath the dystopian man-made items, and mushrooms can be seen sprouting underneath it.
After vigorous bidding on Nifty Gateway, Justin Sun, the Tron Foundation, purchased the artwork for USD 6 million on March 23rd, 2021. Beeple revealed the winner and the winning bid on Twitter.
The global impact of blockchain on the future of trade is undeniable. Crypto art is still in its infancy, and if major players on the arts and fashion scenes begin to participate, it will undoubtedly explode. The value of NFTs, even at this stage proves that it is an industry that is worth keeping an eye on.
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