Beeple, Pak, Larva Labs, Edward Snowden, Xcopy… These so called “crypto artists“ as they’re now referred to, sparked a lot of chatter and controversy in 2021. KAZoART is here to roundup the 5 record breaking, eye-watering, most expensive NFT sales that sent shockwaves through the art world.

What the Hell are NFTs?

As you well know, the world around us is rapidly shifting and changing, and the art world is no different! And at the heart of these changes – the arrival of NFTs!

But what do these three letters stand for exactly? NFT’s are actually digital artworks and the acronym stands for “non-fungible token“, meaning that these digital pieces are unique and cannot be replicated. 

Icône NFT
NFT icon

These decentralised digital works have a built in code that can attest to their authenticity, just like a certificat. The unique nature of NFTs is that they cannot be substituted for other similar pieces because each NFT has its own worth.

However, being the owner of an NFT does not mean that said digital piece cannot be duplicated. You are not the only person who can see this piece, just the owner of the original certified artwork.

These NFTs are sold on something called a blockchain, a decentralized network that keeps track of all NFT sales and the owners of each individual piece! 

The Top 5 Mind-blowing NFT Sales

1. Pak, The Merge: $91.8 million

In December 2021, digital artist Pak sold his art piece The Merge for $91 million on the online bidding website, NIFTY, making it the most expensive nft sale of all time. The rest is history!

Records vente NFT
The Merge by Pak ©Nifty Gateway
The Merge project by Pak ©Nifty Gateway

Thanks to this sale, artist Pak dethroned the world record previously held by Beeple, who sold his piece Everydays : The First 5000 days. This piece was sold in March for an eye-watering $69 million.

The sale of this piece, The Merge is wholly unique and innovative. Indeed this specific piece was not just sold to a unique buyer but by 28,984 people who all bought 266,445 units of this one piece. 

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The Merge by Pak ©Nifty Gateway
Pak, The Merge ©Nifty Gateway

Just like a jigsaw puzzle, the amalgamation of all these NFTs creates the final piece known as The Merge.

But ambitious artist Pak didn’t want to stop there! This specific collection debuted a compelling mechanism novel to the world of digital art, where collectors who bought multiple units of mass during the sale period unlocked access to an exclusive NFT that expands in size as more mass is added to their collection. Collectors who acquire more mass on the secondary market will “merge” purchased mass with their existing mass to grow their NFT.

2. Beeple, Everydays: The First 5000 days: $69.3 million

In March 2021, artist Beeple’s Everydays : The First 5000 days was sold at prestigious auction house Christie’s for a whopping $69.3 million. An incredibly feat seeing as the work was originally up for sale for a measly $100!

Records vente NFT
Beeple, Everydays : The First 5 000 days ©Christie’s
Beeple, Everydays: The First 5000 days ©Christie’s

This piece is a collage of over 5000 individual digital pieces put together. Tired of his day-job as a web developer, this crypto artist challenged himself to draw a new piece of art everyday in an attempt to improve his skills as an illustrator and graphic designer. He started this project over a decade ago on the 1st of May 2007.

This mosaïc of images can be enlarged without losing its original crisp quality. This allows the viewer to study each individual piece in great detail.

Capture d'écran sur le site de l'archive "Everydays"
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Screenshot from the website of the archive “Everydays

Within these 5000 pieces, we’re able to make out characters from pop culture, along with public personalities and politicians. These characters are most often depicted in scénarios that look straight out of science fiction.

Before his world record was beaten by Pak, Beeple was one of the three best-selling living artists in the world, along with Jeff Koons and David Hockney

3. Larva Labs, CryptoPunk n°7523: $11.7 million

Canadian software developers, Matt Hall and John Watkinson, also known as Larva Labs, are two of the pioneers in the world of NFTs and have since contributed to a large percentage of NFT sales. 

You may have heard of CryptoPunks, a collection of over 10,000 portraits of pixelated alien characters created in 2017!

Larva Labs, 9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757, ©Christie’s
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Larva Labs, 9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757, ©Christie’s

Among the 10 000 CryptoPunks created by Larva Labs, number 7523 is the only available character wearing a surgical face mask. It therefore quickly became the most valuable piece of the entire collection due to the current health crisis.

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Larva Labs, Cryptopunk 7523, ©Sotheby's
Larva Labs, Cryptopunk 7523, ©Sotheby’s

Up for auction at Sotheby’s, the digital piece is definitely up there with the most expensive nft sales of all time, after being sold for $11.7 million on the 10 of June 2021! 

4. Edward Snowden, Stay Free: $5.2 million

You have undoubtably heard of Edward Snowden, who previously worked for both the CIA and the NSA. He is most well known for being the infamous whistleblower who disclosed classified secrets to the press in 2013 implying that the NSA were actually spying on the American public.

Snowden revealed to the public the existence of mass-surveillance programs in both American and British governments. He is therefore considered by many as a hero and a symbol of freedom in our modern society.

Manifestation pour Edward Snowden ©Rena Schild – shutterstock
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Demonstration for Edward Snowden ©Rena Schild – shutterstock

Today, Snowden made headlines for a different reason – his new venture into the world of NFTs. With the name Stay Free, the piece was sold for $5.27 million!

The digital art piece is a self portrait drawn by artist Platon using legal documents. The contents of these documents mention the illegal nature of the NSA’s mass surveillance program.

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Edward Snowden, Stay Free, ©E. Snowden Foundation

This digital art piece is therefore particularly symbolic and revolutionist due to its deeply polarizing subject matter. The $5.27 million raised will be donated to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports whistleblowers and journalists.

5. XCopy, A coin for the Ferryman: $6.03 million

Mysterious and London-based are two ways of describing NFT pioneer and crypto artist XCopy

In November 2021, one of the artist’s first creations, A Coin for the Ferryman, originally created in 2018, was sold for $6.03 million on the SuperRare platform – putting it up there with the rest of the most expensive NFTs ever sold.  

The piece was initially bought for around $140. This incredible price spike was undoubtably due to the increased notoriety of the artist over the last few years and the ever-growing popularity of NFTs!

 XCopy, A coin for the Ferryman ©Twitter / @XCOPYART
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 XCopy, A coin for the Ferryman ©Twitter / @XCOPYART

This digital art piece, commonly known as a “GIF“, depicts a character with a tortured expression on his face. This figure appears on a glitchy colorful background, like static on a broken tv or computer screen.

Have you been seduced by this new art form?

In the face of the incredible success these NFTs have amassed, we’re witnessing a real revolution in the art market. Due to high demand, this marketplace is truly becoming more and more digital.

This brand new art form allows artists to reach new audiences and to give visibility to emerging artists who will gain notoriety thanks to various networks and social media, in order to sell their purely unique NFTs! And with this increase in NFTS comes the increase of NFT sales!

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