CryptoPunks are the most popular NFT collection on the market at the moment. But what makes them so popular and why are they so expensive?

The popularity of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) has been surging in the past few years. While the digital product has been around since 2014, 2021 was the first year that brought them to the mainstream. Many people believe that NFT collectibles are the future generation of art and investment. At the same time, many are buying NFTs not as investments but simply because they can bring them joy.

CryptoPunk NFT

If we take a closer look, the NFT craze is actually pretty crazy. You might be shocked when you hear about the prices of NFT art, considering that they can't be touched or the fact that there might be thousands of digital copies of the artworks circulating online.

The most popular NFT collection at the moment is CryptoPunks, a group of unique collectible pixelated characters that exist on the Ethereum blockchain network. Now, in order to understand why CryptoPunks are so expensive, we should first understand the history of CryptoPunks as a digital collectible.


The History of CryptoPunks

Launched in 2017, CryptoPunk is an NFT collection that consists of 10,000 random pixelated characters. From a series of 10,000 NFTs, there are 6,039 male punks, 3,840 female punks, 88 zombies, 24 apes, and nine aliens. Each of these punks has unique personalities, color combinations, and special features such as 3D glasses, rosy cheeks, hats, face masks, and more. The more complex their combination of distinctive features, the rarer the NFT and the higher the price.

The first 1,000 CryptoPunks were launched for the project's developers and they are known as Dev Punks. Around eight of them don't have any distinctive features and they are often referred to as the Genesis Punks. On the other hand, there’s one CryptoPunk called #8348 that has seven basic unique features and it is one of the most coveted CryptoPunks in existence.

CryptoPunks were created by the Larva Labs studio, a company founded by self-proclaimed Canadian software developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson. The idea was to use the images as avatars in a smartphone app or game, and it was inspired by the Punk London movement in the 1970s, which is a cyberpunk community that includes the film Blade Runner, the music artist Daft Punk, and a Neuromancer novel William Gibson.

At first, the two developers didn't think that such a simple art project could blow up and outshine everything that they'd put out before. They started off by minting 10,000 CryptoPunks and issued them for free, allowing anyone with an Ethereum wallet to redeem one at release. Shortly after, all of them were quickly claimed and have since risen drastically in value.

Fast forward to 2020, the NFT market exploded and CryptoPunks became extremely popular. CryptoPunks have become a type of cryptocurrency in a way, although they are not exactly the same as Bitcoin or other regular crypto coins.

Just like fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies are fungible, which means each asset of the same type is identical and can be mutually substituted. On the contrary, NFTs are non-fungible so each one is unique and cannot be used interchangeably. They are similar to the concept of Pokemon cards, stamps, or anything else that people can collect. Other than that, they don't really have any real uses in our day-to-day lives, but their popularity can significantly raise their price and make them incredibly valuable to have.


How Much Do They Worth?

According to the NFT industry data aggregator CryptoSlam, the overall transaction volume of Larva Labs was $361.7 million in recent years. As for the CryptoPunks, the price is ranging from $77,600 to $1.2 million in Ethereum.

So far, the lowest price to purchase a CryptoPunk is below 80 ETH. CryptoPunk #1417 was sold at 79.99 ETH back in 2021.

Meanwhile, the most expensive CryptoPunk sold to date is CryptoPunk #5822, which was sold for 8,000 ETH (approximately $23.7 million). The buyer of this NFT is the CEO of Chain, Deepak Thapliyal.


Why Are CryptoPunks So Expensive?

Looking at such dramatic numbers might make you wonder, why are CryptoPunks so expensive?

In a nutshell, there are three possible reasons that stand out:

  • Age

The CryptoPunk collection is considered one of the oldest NFT collections ever minted. This makes CryptoPunks instantly popular and even valued as much as a major old painting like Picasso's Femme nue couchée au collier of 1932 that was owned and tokenized by TRON's Justin Sun. CryptoPunks are also known as the inspiration behind several other artworks such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Pudgy Penguins, and more.

That being said, the age of CryptoPunks on the blockchain actually adds to their desirability. Many collectors simply want to get their hands on one of the oldest NFT artworks ever minted and this certainly makes their value higher on the market.

  • Popularity

Apart from age, the interest of the crypto community also plays a huge role in the valuation of an NFT product. The idea is to incorporate NFTs into various purposes and across different industries. For instance, NFTs are available in video games, social media, and others.

Some CryptoPunk owners even have their own Discord server to discuss CryptoPunks and the latest updates of the NFT market. They also talk about upcoming NFT projects that they are interested in. Such interactions can certainly affect the market and to some extent determine how much a CryptoPunk NFT's worth is. The more popular it is, the higher the price.

  • Scarcity

As one of the oldest NFT collections on the market, CryptoPunks are naturally scarce, which makes them even more expensive. The limited supply of NFTs adds to the thrill and increases the market's demand.

In the case of CryptoPunks, the unique attributes contribute to the value of each CryptoPunk. The plain-looking ones are less valuable than rare punks with complex and unique attributes. For instance, alien CryptoPunks are among the rarest ones in the whole collection, so they are more expensive than others.

Apart from that, the prices of CryptoPunks also depend on the popularity among famous individuals, such as Jay-Z, Serena Williams, and more. The NFTs have been used as profile pictures and icons on various social media platforms, making them highly popular in the crypto community.


How to Buy CryptoPunks

If you are interested in buying CryptoPunks, there are several ways that you can try. First, just like any other NFT, you can find them on some NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea. Alternatively, you can also find CryptoPunks on sale through the Larva Labs website. To help potential buyers, the company offers multiple tools needed to access the avatar that they wish to purchase. This includes a tracker tool that displays all of the listed punks on the site along with their prices.

In order to purchase NFTs on a marketplace like the OpenSea, here are the steps that you'll need to follow:

  1. Register and open an OpenSea account. Then, head over to the marketplace's website.
  2. Connect your crypto wallet to the website. The most common wallet used in OpenSea is MetaMask, which is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to easily connect and transact with cryptocurrency in various websites.
  3. Select the CryptoPunk that you want to buy and click on it.
  4. Simply follow the instructions on the screen and buy the NFT. Make sure to have enough crypto in your Ethereum wallet.

It is worth mentioning that when you bid or buy an NFT on the marketplace, you can see the status of each NFT based on the background color.

  • A blue background indicates that the NFT is not for sale and does not have any open bids at the time.
  • A red background shows that the owner has placed the NFT for sale.
  • A purple background means that there's an active open bid for that particular NFT.


The Future of CryptoPunks

CryptoPunks have attracted a number of famous celebrities, such as Jay Z, Steve Aoki, as well as many other high-profile investors from all around the world. In just a few years, CryptoPunks have gone from having virtually zero value to millions of dollars. While there's no telling what might happen in the future, CryptoPunks certainly have a big chance to thrive and last in the long term.

Tell us what you want to find

Today, CryptoPunks remain the most popular and the most influential NFT series on the market. It is also worth mentioning that Larva Labs' other NFT projects are doing quite well. One of the most recent examples is Meebits, which is a series of unique 3D characters similar to CryptoPunks. Going forward, the company will keep improving the project even further and exploring new areas in the world of NFT.


If you're interested to buy NFTs but are short on capital, there are fractional NFTs that enable you to own NFTs in fractions at a lower price.