- CryptoPunks is highly sought after because of its historical significance as one of the first NFTs ever created
- CryptoPunks NFTs have sold for millions of dollars
- The founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club bought the Punks IP and granted commercial rights to holders in March 2022
- Want to buy CryptoPunks? Find your first Punk on the Larva Labs marketplace
What Are CryptoPunks?
On June 23, 2017, CryptoPunks — a collection of 10,000 24x24 pixel art characters — was free to claim by anyone with an Ethereum wallet. Punks were written on a custom contract — the inspiration for the ERC-721 standard, which describes how to build the majority of non-fungible tokens we know today. Because of its historical significance, CryptoPunks is one of the most highly sought-after NFTs.
The 10,000-edition collection isn’t the first Punks collection — it’s the second launched by Larva Labs, the creators of the Punks. On June 9, 2017, about two weeks before most of the revered CryptoPunks collection was claimed, Larva Labs released the first version of the CryptoPunks contract, though it had an error where the money would go back to the buyer of a punk. The contract was quickly paused and that version was scrapped, until 2021, when outside developers wrapped the V1 Punks into a new contract and started selling them on OpenSea. The V1 Punks was Larva Labs’ first Solidity contract.
Who Created CryptoPunks?
Origins of CryptoPunks
Shortly after the first version of the Punks was released, a Mashable article about Punks came out with the headline “This Ethereum-based project could change how we think about digital art.”
“Oh we should say that,” said Larva Labs co-founder Matt Hall about why Larva Labs created Punks in a speech at a digital art festival in 2018.
“When we first started this, we didn’t even know if anyone would care at all, at first, it felt like, ‘Oh my god, we have 10,000 of these things and people have taken 30? It’s going to be stupid, right?’ But then they all went,” Hall said.
He also said he didn’t first think of CryptoPunks as art.
“At first, I would always be a little sheepish about it, I would be like, ‘I don’t know, it’s certainly not art in the sense of what’s on the wall,’ but I’m starting to come around to the idea that it has these upsides that make it different and better in specific ways,” Hall said.
Hall said unlike traditional art, users can “buy and sell with anyone in the world instantly.”
Hall said Larva Labs didn’t have a roadmap, just that they did not want to charge money or fees, though Larva Labs kept the first thousand Punks in the collection. Larva Labs also launched the Punks without a content license. Later, the project adopted the NFT License, which allowed holders personal, but non-commercial use of their Punk.
How Are CryptoPunks Valued?
The collection is mostly made up of “punky” human males and females though the rarest — and most expensive — CryptoPunks are Apes, Aliens, and Zombies. The art is generative, meaning the traits were drawn and then assigned to images based on an algorithm.
Users can explore the rarity of the Punks collection in Lucky Trader’s Asset Explorer, but the list of Punks “type” is the following:
- Male (6,039)
- Female (3,840)
- Zombie (88)
- Ape (24)
- Alien (9)
CryptoPunks attributes range from gold chains to medical masks to clown noses. The rarest attribute (“Beanie”) is found on 44 of the 10,000 Punks, while other attributes like “earring” (2,459) and “cigarette” (961) can be found on a much larger group of Punks.
For most of the life of the collection, a premium has been placed on the rare, non-human Punks, even when they first appeared on the scene in 2017 and floor to mid-tier punks were selling for about 0.2 ETH (about $65 at the time). At the early height of the collection (July 2017), the biggest sales came for Alien Punks — a handful of which sold for 8 ETH (about $1,646 at the time).
Even though they were popular among crypto enthusiasts, the average sale of a Punk during July of 2017 was around just 0.62 ETH (about $145).
As most of the sell-off of cryptocurrency was happening in 2018, the average sale of the Punks also suffered during this time and in June of 2018, a user could pick a Punk up for less than $60.
Sales for Punks started picking back up in September of 2020 as NFTs began to rise in popularity because of their provable scarcity and the ease of transacting thanks to the ERC-721 standard. At the beginning of 2021, the average sale of a Punk was about 10 ETH, or $12,000. In March of 2021, CryptoPunk No. 3100 and CryptoPunk No. 7804 each sold for 4,200 ETH or $7.5 million. During this time, CryptoPunks regularly sold for millions of dollars at traditional auction houses like Christie’s. In August, credit card company Visa boosted the popularity of the collection among non-crypto-native people when it bought CryptoPunk No. 7610 for 45 ETH.
(CryptoPunk No. 9998 was also purchased for a record 124K ETH — about $532 million — in October of 2021, but the transaction was made by one user and the Punk was transferred back to the owner.)
In May of 2021, Larva Labs announced a 20,000-edition collection of 3D characters called Meebits and allowed Punk owners to claim the first 10,000. The other 10,000 were sold for 2.5 ETH, which earned Larva Labs more than $80 million.
In March of 2022, Yuga Labs, the founding company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, bought the IP for the CryptoPunks and Meebits. Shortly after, Yuga Labs granted holders full commercial rights for their Punks and Meebits.
How to Buy CryptoPunks
Unlike most NFTs, which are primarily purchased on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea, CryptoPunks has its own marketplace. Users will need a web3 wallet to interact with the marketplace, allowing them to buy, sell or bid on a Punk or multiple Punks.
To buy a CryptoPunk, scroll down the marketplace page to the section “For Sale” then click where it says to click to see all Punks for sale (or use this link).
There, a user can choose a Punk that appeals to them.
Once chosen, users can choose to bid or buy the Punk at the offered price. Users must have ETH available to bid.
Prospective Punk owners can also buy Wrapped CryptoPunks, which are Punks wrapped in ERC-721 contracts, on OpenSea.