Although NFT’s seem to be relatively new to the general population, the CryptoPunk series was launched in 2017. Out of the 10,000 24 x 24, 8-bit-style algorithmically generated CryptoPunks avatars, there are no exact matches. Larva Labs created each one with their own distinct characteristics. Each set of Punks has a unique set of attributes withholding anywhere from zero to eight distinguishing characteristics which were ascribed by the algorithm, defining their visual style.
Their wide range of style may include a mohawk haircut, sunglasses, cigarettes, hats, and/or other accessories. However, eight punks are classified as ‘Genesis Punks,’ having no attributes at all. Alongside those is just one CryptoPunk, #8348, which is the only one to contain all eight features – a top hat and classic shades, puffing a cigarette through his buckteeth and big beard while also sporting an earring and a mole.” Sounds like a handsome young fella, no?
The Birth of CryptoPunks
“CryptoPunks are the origianl PFP seires that created the template for other NFT projects that have followed, and which helped propel NFT’s to the global stage as one of the most recognizable visual styles that have become synonymous with the digital art movement,” commented Michael Bouhanna, Sotheby’s Co-Head of Digital Art.
Just about five years ago, CryptoPunks were released on the Ethereum blockchain as an experiment. Now, being one of the earliest NFT projects of the Ethereum networks, CryptoPunks are reflective of the crypto-anarchist philosophy that defined early Ethereum culture. Their signature pixelated style is now a symbol of the meteoric rise of the NFT movement. Within that, the CryptoPunk experiment also inspired the ERC-721 standard that is used for the majority of digital art and collectibles today.
The Sotheby’s press release writes, “CryptoPunks embody the philosophies of pseudonmity, community, and tradability that are essential to the blockchain ecosystem, and also represent the technology’s elegant simplicity.” Notable celebrity collectors such as JAY-Z and Jason Derulo have adopted Punks as their profile pictures, just to give you a little preview of their fame.
Live Auction at Sotheby’s
On February 23, 2022 Sotheby’s will host the first dedicated live evening auction for NFT’s, Punk It!, a single-lot sales of 104 CryptoPunks. This collection was acquired by anonymous collector “0x650d” in a single blockchain transaction. The Sotheby’s Press Release writes, “This stand-alone acquisition connects each of the 104 Punks with the same provenance – a wallet that currently represents more than 1% of the entire CryptoPunks collection – as ascribes unique value to the group as one of the largest Punk collections held by a single wallet.”
Bouhanna expressed in a comment, “To offer a group of 104 CryptoPunks as a single lot is a monumental occasion, and one that we are excited to present as a first-of-its-kind evening auction. Never before has there been a dedicated auction presenting NFT’s on this level, and we can’t wait to invite the NFT and crypto art community to participate in this special sale.”
Following Sotheby’s record breaking sale in June 2021 of CryptoPunk #7523, this auctions ranks as the highest valued estimate for an NFT or digital art offered at an auction, reaching $20/30 million. Cryptocurrency will be accepted at the auction with the winning bidder having the option to make the final payment in Ether (ETH), Bitcoin (BTC), USD Coin (USDC) or in flat currencies. After the auction comes to a close there will be a live panel discussion hosted by Sotheby’s. The panel will dive into the history of NFT’s focusing on CryptoPunks specifically.