Sirwin
Sirwin

The 15 Most Expensive NFT Sales of All Time


We’ve come a long way since the first NFT, Quantum, was minted in 2014. Since then, projects like CryptoKitties, Rare Pepes, and CryptoPunks have revolutionized the industry — both creatively and financially. NFT sales have skyrocketed, and many of the most famous NFTs have brought in millions of dollars. But when it comes to expensive NFTs, just how high can the numbers get?

It’s difficult to say since the NFT ecosystem is growing and evolving rapidly. And as time goes on, many new artists are becoming millionaires, with progressively more celebrities spending seven figures on Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs (and others). But while we can’t say how high the numbers will climb, we can say what the highest-selling NFTs are so far.

To record all of the historic milestones, we’ve compiled a list of the most expensive NFT art pieces ever sold. It’s important to note: while there have been collections and multi-NFT auctions that have brought in tens of millions — like Pak’s famous NFT, the $91.8 million Merge open edition — these are the biggest single NFT sales to ever happen.

So be sure to bookmark this page and come back for the latest information. As noted, things are changing rapidly, and we’ll continue to update this article with new entries as even bigger NFT sales go down.

15. XCOPY, All Time High in the City: $6.2 million (1630 ETH)

Sale details: XCOPY’s All Time High in the City sold for 1,630 ETH in January 2022 to rarecollector3000 just a few months after initially selling for 1,000 ETH. The animated artwork, which was minted in 2018, depicts the ferryman of the underworld transporting a man across the river Styx.

Why it’s valuable: Known for dark, abstract, and dystopian illustrations, the London-based XCOPY often uses motion, flickering, or glitching effects in his pieces. His style has become a staple of the NFT ecosystem, with countless artists and projects imitating his animated pieces in creations of their own.

14. Beeple, Crossroad: $6.6 million (4400 ETH)

Sale details: Originally minted on October 30, 2020, Beeple’s Crossroad sold for $66,666 to influential collector Pablo Fraile. Only four months later, it found a new home with faceless collector anonymous10.

Why it’s valuable: Before NFTs had received any truly significant mainstream news coverage, Crossroad became a meme surrounding the 2020 presidential race. It was created as a reflection of the political tension in the United States, and Beeple says he had multiple versions of the piece ready, depending on who won the presidency.

13. CryptoPunk #8857: $6.63 million (2000 ETH)

Sale details: CryptoPunk #8857 sold for $6.63 million on September 11, 2021. The sale came as part of a string of buys that happened throughout the summer and fall of 2021.

Why it’s valuable: Zombie CryptoPunks are some of the most famous NFTs to date. Why? For starters, they come from one of the earliest NFT collections, CryptoPunks. Additionally, there are only 88 zombie CryptoPunks in existence.

The enormous price tag was also triggered by a legendary single-day sale in which prominent NFT collector Keyboard Monkey bought a zombie Punk and sold it less than 24 hours later for a profit of nearly one million dollars. It was what many would call the height of zombie NFT trading. Around this time in the zombie Punk market, we even saw the birth of prominent investor Cozomo de’ Medici with the purchase of CryptoPunk #3831.

12. XCOPY, Right-click and Save As Guy: $7 million (1600 ETH)

Sale details: XCOPY’s Right-click and Save As Guy sold to Cozomo de’ Medici for $7 million on December 9, 2021.

Why it’s valuable: The legend of XCOPY’s “Right-click and Save As Guy” goes back far beyond the days of our current NFT ecosystem. It was minted years ago, on December 6, 2018. The iconic piece helped signal a shift in public perception about NFTs when it was featured on BBC World News, shortly after Beeple’s landmark Everydays auction. As this famous NFT art had only changed hands twice before this latest sale — first for $90 (1 ETH) and then for $174,195 (99 ETH) — de’ Medici’s buy marked more than a 3,500 percent increase in the value of the artwork.

11. Dmitri Cherniak, Ringers #109: $7.1 million (2100 ETH)

Sale details: Among the highest sales to come from Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers project lives Ringers #109. Hailed for its complexities as a piece of generative art, #109, sold for more than $7 million in October 2021, further solidifying the importance of the Art Blocks project.

Why it’s valuable: Ringers was one of the first projects to launch in 2021. In addition to its historic significance in the NFT space, it’s also one of the most popular Art Blocks Curated collections. Although Ringers and Cherniak himself were both subject to the controversy surrounding the original inspiration behind the project (with some remarking that the idea may have been stolen), the sale of this specific intricate ringer helped proliferate the conversation surrounding plagiarism on the blockchain and general crypto-artistic integrity.

10. CryptoPunk #7804: $7.56 million (4200 ETH)

Sale details: CryptoPunk #7804 was one of two major alien Punk sales to happen on March 11, 2021. Purchased for the equivalent of $7.5 million at the time, the 4,200 ETH price tag would amount to nearly $17 million at 2021 year-end.

Why it’s valuable: Punk #7804 has some rare traits, including being one of only nine aliens in existence. But the significance of this purchase goes far beyond the price. Almost immediately after the Punk changed hands, we witnessed the birth of NFT collector and social media influencer Peruggia (who has been heavily speculated to be the alternate account of prominent investor Robert Leshner).

9. CryptoPunk #3100: $7.57 million (4200 ETH)

Sale details: The second major Punk sale to happen on March 11, 2021, was CryptoPunk #3100. This also happened to be the last on-chain alien Punk sale of 2021. We wouldn’t see another change hands till the Sotheby’s auction of CryptoPunk #7523 (also on this list).

Why it’s valuable: CryptoPunk #3100 is one of nine aliens in existence, making it an obviously influential and rare Punk. Similar to #8857 though, no one came forward to give this high-profile NFT a personality via social media.

8. CryptoPunk #5577: $7.7 million (2501 ETH)

Sale details: This cowboy-hat-wearing punk sold in February 2022 for 2,500 ETH. It is believed to have been purchased by Robert Leshner, CEO of Compound Finance, who Tweeted an enthusiastic “Yeehaw” after the sale.

Why it’s valuable: It’s one of 24 Ape punks, and one of 142 with cowboy hats. As Ape Punks have continued to rise in popularity among the Bored Ape-dominated NFT market, it’s unlikely we’ll see many high-profile trades like #5577 for some time.

7. CryptoPunk #4156: $10.2 million (2500 ETH)

Sale details: On December 9, 2021, CryptoPunk #4156 sold for $10.2 million.

Why it’s valuable: Although CryptoPunk #4156 wasn’t the highest selling NFT from the CryptoPunk family, it was undoubtedly the most famous NFT trade for a Punk in 2021. That’s because bandana ape #4156 had become synonymous with the personality of prominent NFT influencer and builder Punk4156. As a result, when the sales happened, it felt like the end of an era.

The sale also marked a significant turning point in the CryptoPunk ecosystem. As the legendary Larva Labs project had long been regarded as one of the most important NFT collections in existence, issues surrounding Larva Labs’ copyright policies — which Punk4156 has taken big issue with — were the reason behind both this significant trade and declining Punk prices towards the end of the year.

6. Tpunk #3442: $10.5 million (120 million TRX)

Sale details: This rare “Joker” Tpunk was purchased by TRON founder Justin Sun in August 2021. Sun is well-versed in the NFT space. He was an active bidder on Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5,000 Days, but he was outbid by $250,000 at the last minute.

Why it’s valuable: In the NFT space, it often seems that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. To this end, it’s no surprise that the Tpunks NFT collection was inspired by — you guessed it — the famous NFT collection known as CryptoPunks. Consisting of 10,000 avatars on the Tron blockchain, as far as derivatives go, Tpunks is definitely in the top tier.

5. CryptoPunk #7523: $11.7 million (4700 ETH)

Sale details: Known to many as the “COVID Alien” due to its prominent facemask trait, CryptoPunk #7523 was the largest punk sale of 2021. It’s important to note that the blockchain does not reflect this prominent sale, as it occurred as part of Sotheby’s Natively Digital auction in June.

Why it’s valuable: The original minter of #7523, Straybits, and the Punk’s second-ever collector, Sillytuna (who supplied it for auction), are both prominent parts of the NFT community. As a result, the sale was seen as a huge win for the NFT ecosystem and also as a major push towards mainstream NFT adoption.

4. CryptoPunk #5822: $23.7 million (8000 ETH)

Sale details: The most expensive CryptoPunk ever sold is punk #5822. The alien-style punk featuring a blue bandana sold for $23 million on February 12, 2022 — more than double the cost of the next highest-grossing punk. The buyer is the CEO of Chain, Deepak Thapliyal. He tweeted an image of his punk after the purchase. It came close to being the highest selling NFT at the time of sale, but it missed the mark by just a few million.

Why it’s valuable: Because it’s one of only nine aliens in the collection, it was bound to sell at a high price.

3. Beeple, Human One: $28.9 million (4700 ETH)

Sale details: Beeple’s HUMAN ONE sold for $28.9 million on November 9, 2021. It was auctioned off as part of Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale.

Why it’s valuable: HUMAN ONE is an NFT like no other. As the first-ever physical piece from the acclaimed artist, both the NFT and the electronic sculpture went up to auction as a single lot. Considering the massive sale of Beeple’s Everydays (also on this list), many were unsure what this new, constantly-evolving digital masterpiece would fetch at auction. Yet, as Christie’s has continued to help legitimize NFTs as true works of art, it’s no wonder that Beeple’s HUMAN ONE would be second only to Beeple himself in 2021.

2. Julian Assange and Pak, Clock: $52.7 million (16953 ETH)

Sale details: In February of 2022, Julian Assange and Pak’s Clock NFT became the second-most expensive single NFT ever sold. The NFT depicts a timer that counts the number of days Assange has spent in prison. It was curated as part of Pak and Assange’s Censored collection, which also featured a dynamic open edition.

Why it’s valuable: Pak has remained anonymous throughout their entire career, while simultaneously becoming one of the highest-grossing living artists. They took to Twitter shortly after the auction closed, labeling the endeavor “a drop with no creator, developer, platform, middlemen share,” that is “from people, for the people.” The piece was purchased by AssangeDAO, an organization whose primary mission is to fight for the freedom of the WikiLeaks founder.

1. Beeple, Everydays: The First 5000 Days — $69.3 million (38525 ETH)

Sale details: The most famous NFT sale (and the most expensive NFT sale to date) was Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69.3 million.

Why it’s valuable: Not only was this the most expensive NFT sale ever, but the event created a snowball effect throughout mainstream media, and brought the term “NFT” into households around the world. Before Christie’s decided to take a chance on NFTs via its Online Auction, the act of minting, collecting, and trading NFTs was seen as niche at best. But after Beeple secured the biggest bag in all of NFTs, it was clear — even to Saturday Night Live — that the time of NFTs had arrived.

How do you rate this article?

4


Satoshi Club
Satoshi Club

An educational group about crypto and blockchain technologies


Satoshi Club AMA Recaps
Satoshi Club AMA Recaps

A collection of AMAs with crypto teams

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.