Top 5 Most Expensive NFTs, Weirdest Collectibles and More
Once you’ve got your head around what an NFT, or non-fungible token, technically is, you are still left grappling with their enormous diversity, and baffling variety. Read on to discover some of the biggest, strangest and most expensive NFTs that have been produced in the past few years.
Love them or hate them, NFTs have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years.
And with that popularity has come a wide array of different digital assets being minted as non-fungible tokens. From art and collectibles to memes and viral media, there is no real limit to the kinds of items you can find on the NFT marketplace. Often, the weirder the better.
Below we take a look at some of the most notable NFTs to be minted and sold since the craze began, including the top five most expensive NFTs of all time.
» MORE: What is an NFT?
The most expensive NFTs
|1||The Merge||Pak||2-4 December 2021||$91,806,519 (£67,299,228)|
|2||EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS||Beeple||11 March 2021||$69,346,250 (£50,834,615)|
|3||The Human One||Beeple||9 November 2021||$28,985,000 (£21,247,599)|
|4||CryptoPunk #7523||Larva Labs||10 June 2021||$11,754,000 (£8,616,328)|
|5||CryptoPunk #3100||Larva Labs||11 March 2021||$7,584,485 (£5,559,845)|
1. The Merge by Pak – $91,806,519 (£67,299,228)
Jeff Koons, David Hockney, Pak. If you are an art fan, you will have almost certainly heard of the first two. But you may struggle to place the third.
Yet, on a technicality, Pak usurped Koons’s Rabbit and Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figure) to become the world’s most expensive living artist with the sale of The Merge for $91,806,519 (£67,299,228) between 2 to 4 December 2021.
This is where things get complicated. The Merge is a singular artwork, but, unlike other NFTs on this list, was sold off by digital art auction website Nifty Gateway in stakes, or units, like shares in a company.
It is arguably an evolution of what an NFT artwork is: not one distinct item to be sold, but a single piece of art to be divided up and shared.
In theory, one person could amass every NFT unit on the secondary market, therefore combining the artwork into a single NFT. It is viewing The Merge in this light that controversially allows it to take the title of most expensive NFT to date.
And the art itself? A white globe on a black background.
» MORE: How to buy and sell NFTs
2. EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS by Beeple – $69,346,250 (£50,834,615)
The previous pinnacle of the NFT market arrived on 11 March 2021, as Beeple’s EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS sold for $69,346,250 (£50,834,615) at auction at Christie’s New York.
This itself was headline worthy, with Christie’s stating the piece – a collage made up of 5,000 individual Beeple artworks created on consecutive days for 13-and-a-half-years – was the “first purely digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house”.
3. The Human One by Beeple – $28,985,000 (£21,247,599)
He may no longer hold the top spot, but at least Mike Winkelmann – aka Beeple – can console himself by taking two of the top three most expensive NFTs of all time.
Like The Merge, The Human One is similarly unusual in the NFT space. It is a hybrid physical and digital piece of art: four video screens bolting together to form a box, on which are shown ever-changing artworks. It exists both as the physical item, and a corresponding NFT. What is shown on the screens will forever be dictated by Beeple himself, regardless of the owner.
It was auctioned at Christie’s New York on 9 November 2021, eventually selling for $28,985,000 (£21,247,599).
4. CryptoPunk #7523 by Larva Labs – $11,754,000 (£8,616,328)
Moving into more familiar NFT territory, CryptoPunk #7523 – part of Larva Labs’ collectibles series – sold at Sotheby’s New York for $11,754,000 (£8,616,328) on 10 June 2021.
This particular CryptoPunk is one of nine ‘Alien’ punks, and shows a blue pixelated head with a red beanie and a gold earring.
5. CryptoPunk #3100 by Larva Labs – $7,584,485 (£5,559,845)
Also part of the ‘Alien’ series, CryptoPunk #3100 rounds out the top five most expensive NFTs of all time after selling for $7,584,485 (£5,559,845) on 11 March 2021.
Unlike #7523, this one is wearing a headband instead of a beanie. A difference worth over $4 million.
The collectible NFTs
The same way you can buy Pokémon cards and sports memorabilia in the physical world, you can buy similar NFT collectibles that exist digitally.
As evidenced by our list above, CryptoPunk are the highest profile collectibles around. The crypto part of their names comes not from cryptocurrency, but from the fact they are stored on Blockchain.
The uniquely generated digital characters – no two are exactly alike – date back to 2017. There are only 10,000 in existence, with such scarcity pushing resale prices into the millions.
In the same vein, Bored Ape Yacht Club has produced 10,000 unique Bored Ape NFTs, each displaying an illustrated ape wearing different accessories.
More akin to traditional trading cards, meanwhile, is the NBA Top Shot series. First released in July 2019, these are a collection of video ‘Moments’ from the biggest NBA stars, each with a collectible tier and unique number. And like physical trading cards, they are bought in randomised packs and can be sold on the secondary market, with prices dictated by rarity.
The first ever NFT
Not wanting to let Christie’s have all the fun with the sale of EVERYDAYS, rival auction house Sotheby’s New York made headlines of its own in June 2021 by selling the “first NFT ever minted”.
Kevin McCoy’s Quantum – essentially a brightly coloured GIF of a digital octagon – was minted on 2 May 2014 21:27:34 on the Namecoin blockchain, in collaboration with tech entrepreneur Anil Dash.
But despite its place in history, Quantum went for a fraction of Beeple’s EVERYDAYS, with the auction closing at $1,472,000 (£1,079,057).
The Logan Paul NFT
Not every NFT earns a place in the record books, or is a part of art history. Sometimes they are minted by celebrities trying to make a quick buck.
And for YouTuber Logan Paul, it worked. On the first day of release, in February 2021, Paul sold $3.5 million (£2.57 million) worth of his collectible NFTs, each containing the same bespoke Pokémon card starring the influencer.
The Charlie Bit My Finger NFT
The reasons behind an NFT sale can be slightly more wholesome.
In May 2021, the Davies-Carr family minted their infamous ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ viral YouTube video and sold it for £538,000 at auction. The family also agreed to remove the clip from YouTube.
The video, which was uploaded in 2007, sees elder brother Harry repeatedly getting his finger bitten by his titular baby brother. So popular was the clip, that at one point it was the most viewed video on YouTube.
The brothers told the BBC that they would be spending the money on going to university.
The first ever tweet NFT
Hammering home the idea that NFTs can be anything, Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey sold the first tweet ever made – “just setting up my twttr” – for a staggering $2,915,835.47 (£2,137,467.77).
And while anyone can still view the tweet online, only Sina Estavi, the man who bought the NFT in March 2021, can say he owns it.
The music NFTs
The music industry hasn’t been shy about getting involved with NFTs, including big names such as Kings of Leon and Eminem.
In March 2021, the Kings of Leon NFT saw the quartet become the first band to sell an album, When You See Yourself, as a non-fungible token.
One month later, the Eminem NFT collection saw the rapper offering digital action figures, instrumental beats and more as part of his ‘Shady Con’ drop.
Like in the art world, similar questions have been asked about whether NFT music is the future of the business.
The Banksy NFTs
Twice Banksy has made the news for NFT activity, though not necessarily because of the man himself.
In March 2021, an original 2006 Banksy screen print called Morons (White) was set alight by owners, and Blockchain company, Injective Protocol. The firm then sold a digital representation of the undamaged artwork as an NFT for $380,000 (£278,561).
The next Banksy NFT incident was even more scandalous. At the end of August 2021, a hacker managed to sell a fake Banksy NFT through Banksy’s own website for $336,000 (£246,306). The hacker later returned the money to the collector who had bought the fake art NFT.
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Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more