• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

10 Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold! [Updated August 2022]

nft pak the merge cryptopunk beeple human one

The blockchain industry has made significant strides since the first non-fungible token (NFT) was minted in 2014. Projects such as CryptoKitties, Rare Apepe, and CryptoPunks have significantly contributed to the NFT ecosystem – creatively and financially. NFT sales have become the talk of the town, and some of the popular NFTs have raked in millions of dollars.  

But how high can these figures go? Well, it is hard to give a precise answer because the ecosystem is constantly growing. As it evolves, revolutionary projects will be launched, and new milestones will be achieved. Although we cannot predict how high the numbers will go, we can take you through the 10 most expensive NFTs in history. But before that, let’s briefly see what gives NFTs value.

How Do NFTs Get Value?

Like any asset, the factors of supply and demand determine the value of an NFT. Typically, assessing an NFT’s value is much easier when it represents a real-world asset, like real estate or a physical piece of artwork. Nevertheless, most NFTs exist virtually – they are not backed by tangible assets. 

NFT collections differ in supply, and the units may display different features. However, other aspects affect the value of NFTs. For instance, capped series NFTs with specific applications appear to have more value. The project developers, artists, influencers, and community impact an NFT’s demand. 

Generally speaking, an NFT’s value is significantly determined by its creators, utility, marketers, and its community. Although there are several examples of successful NFT projects, there are also thousands that haven’t managed to launch or hit new levels successfully. 

The 10 Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold

Now that we have a proper understanding of how NFTs get their value let’s dive into some of the best NFT sales in history. It’s important to note that the prices cited in this article are based on the time of the sale. 

10. CryptoPunk #3100 – $7.6 Million

 CryptoPunk 3100

From the above list, it’s evident that NFT collectors and art lovers love CryptoPunks. CryptoPunk #3100 is the 10th most expensive NFT that fetched $7.6 million on March 11, 2021. 

The piece features a special Alien avatar with a white and blue headband. There are just 450 out of 10,000 punks with headbands, which is probably why this piece was valued highly. 

9. CryptoPunk #5577 – $7.7 Million

 CryptoPunk 5577

CryptoPunk #5577 demonstrated that the NFT frenzy did not stop in 2021. In February 2022, this piece sold for $7.7 million. Notably, the work was bought with leverage. It features a cowboy hat, and it was bought by Robert Leshner, the founder of Compound Finance

8. CryptoPunk #4156 – $10.26 Million

 CryptoPunk 4156

CryptoPunk #4156 is the eighth most expensive NFT sold ever and one of the most recognizable CryptoPunks in the NFTverse. For one, Beeple featured Punk in one of his art pieces, but 4156 also proceeded to launch Nouns – another notable NFT project that is renowned for its unique release and astronomical prices.

CryptoPunk #4156 was sold on December 21, 2021, for a whopping 10.26 million dollars after some dispute with the creators over commercialization rights. The original owner, Punk 4156, had bought it for $1.25 million before selling it nine months later at a profit of almost tenfold.

7. TPunk #3442 – $10.5 Million

 tpunk tron

Tron is one of the blockchains with its own versions of CryptoPunks. While TPunks typically don’t fetch high profits, in August 2021, Justin Sun, the co-founder of Tron, bought TPunk #3442 for $10.5 million. TPunk #3442 shares similar features with the Joker.

Objectively, it didn’t seem like this TPunk was worth that much, but Justin Sun’s status definitely contributed to its high valuation. In the end, Sun donated the NFT to APENFT, a Tron-based project dedicated to tokenizing artwork on the blockchain.

6. Alien CryptoPunk #7523 – $11.75 million

 alien CryptoPunk

CryptoPunk #7523 is among the nine Alien punks created by Larva Labs. Its medical mask feature also gives it special relevance to the COVID pandemic period, which is one of the main reasons why Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of DraftKings, purchased it at Sotheby’s “Natively Digital” auction for a staggering $11.8 million. 

Besides, CryptoPunk #7523 has other special accessories such as earrings (only 2559 punks have earrings) and a knitted cap (just 419 punks have knitted caps).

5. CryptoPunk #5822 – $23.7 Million

 CryptoPunk 5822

This is the most expensive CryptoPunk NFT ever sold. CryptoPunks are 10,000 Ethereum avatars that were created in 2017 by Larva Labs. Since then, they have become the staples of NFT profile picture projects, stimulating a whole ecosystem of cohorts – including the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

CryptoPunk #5822 was bought by Deepak Thapliyal, the CEO of Chain, for $23.7 million in February 2022. It raked in a high amount because it forms part of the series’ rarest edition – only nine out of the 10,000 punks exist. Besides, the piece is among the 333 punks with a bandana.

4. HUMAN ONE – $28.9 Million

 beeple human one

This is the first real-world artwork of Beeple – a 3D moving sculpture with four screens. It shows an infinite film of an astronaut exploring places at different times. HUMAN ONE NFT reveals the creator’s artistic determination outside the digital space. It’s thought that the inspiration behind it originates from tests merging several televisions into several shapes and patterns.     

It’s important to note that this piece changes with time. While Beeple lacks the ownership rights of HUMAN ONE, he remotely accesses and updates it regularly. The piece received a bid of $25 million at Christie’s auction in November 2021, which accumulated to $28.9 million when fees were included.  

3. Clock – $52.7 Million

 clock nft

The Clock is the third most expensive NFT sold and has a slightly eccentric tale. This is another creation of Beeple intended to fundraise for Julian Assange’s defense following his controversial 2019 detention.

Assange is still in prison on charges of spying on the US government, primarily through the WikiLeaks website he started. The piece is basically a clock showing the days since Assange was imprisoned. 

The Clock NFT sold for $52.7 million (16,953 ETH) in February 2022 to AssangeDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) created to manage the sale. Apart from designing The Clock, the creators also permitted people to develop a series of NFTs with censored messages for free. The earnings from the series are channeled to pro-freedom organizations the creators choose.    

2. The First 5000 Days – $69.3 Million

beeple first 5000 days

The First 5000 Days is the second most expensive NFT sold so far. It was designed by Michael Winkelmann, a digital artist more commonly known as Beeple. The piece was sold at Christie’s, with the first bid of approximately $100 placed by traditional buyers followed by bigger offers from cryptocurrency investors.  

Since Beeple was popular among crypto users with big sales such as Crossroads, it took a few hours for the NFT to shoot up to $1+ million. On February 21, 2021, Beeple accepted a $69 million bid for the piece. MetaKovan, the founder and CEO of Metapurse, an NFT investment fund, submitted the bid.   

1. The Merge – $91.8 Million

 pak the merge

The Merge is a virtual artwork designed by an unknown artist nicknamed Pak. It was auctioned on December 6, 2021, for $91.8 million on the Nifty Gateway marketplace. But The Merge was divided into 312,686 pieces and circulated to 28,983 investors. In other words, this NFT was a collection of works people could purchase. 

The Merge comprises three big white masses containing a black background. The more mass investors acquired, the bigger their mass would become. Besides, the piece has an inbuilt scarcity mechanism, which ensures its token supply declines with time. Each transferred Merge token unites with the token of the recipient address, leading to more mass value and one token. 


Bonus: UkraineDAO PartyBid – $6.7 Million

 ukraine dao

An NFT representing the Ukrainian flag was auctioned for $6.75 million in March 2022. The earnings were channeled to Come Back Alive, an entity responsible for giving provisions to Ukrainian citizens and the military.   

UkraineDAO managed the auction, a fundraising campaign steered by Russian art collective Pussy Riot and NFT studio Trippy Labs. The winning bid was placed by a pool of 3,271 contributors through PartyBid. 

The relevance of the bid and the unique mechanism of PartyBid definitely enabled the NFT to gain a high valuation. The sale further set a precedent for fundraising methods to incentivize even great prices potentially. While this piece doesn’t make it to the top 10 most expensive NFTs sold, it is an honorable mention of its special fundraising goal and the crowdfunded auction.

To learn more about NFTs, check out the 10 most exciting new Solana NFTs in 2022 or a guide to getting early access to NFT drops!