The Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold

Most Expensive Nfts Opt
Most Expensive Nfts Opt

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have jumped onto the global financial main stage in the crypto sector. Well-known artists and promises of metaverses, amongst other factors, have played a role in the success of some NFTs and NFT collections.

While the NFT space has become quite saturated, a select few have taken the lion’s share and become worth millions of dollars. Here, we cover five of the most expensive NFTs to date, according to their sale price, and their impact on the digital collection space.

Want to find out more about NFTs? Check out what makes an NFT popular.

1. Merge — US$91.8M

Pak — Merge

Digital artist Pak’s creation Merge fetched US$91.8 million on NFT platform Nifty Gateway in December 2021. The NFT set a new record for the most expensive artwork sold by a living artist. However, the claim to the most expensive NFT is debatable, depending on whether Merge is considered to be a single piece. 

Buyers could purchase tokens from the artwork starting at US$299, with the price increasing by US$25 every six hours during the sale period. By the end, the tokens in aggregate sold for a total of US$91.8 million, with 28,983 collectors snapping up 312,686 total units of mass, or non-fungible token (NFT).

Pak, a pseudonymous artist (or artist collective), has inspired digital art and media for more than 20 years, best known for creating Archillect, an AI built to discover and share visual art. In early 2022, the NFT collection, The Fungible Collection, sold at Sotheby’s and Nifty Gateway for US$16.8 million.

Beeple — The First 5000 Days

Created by Mike ‘Beeple’ Winkelmann, The First 5000 Days is a collage of over 5,000 pieces put together once per day since May 2007. It debuted at the Christie’s Auction digital art house in March 2021, becoming the fourth-most-expensive piece ever sold at the Christie’s auction by a living artist. It was sold to Vignesh Sundaresan, a Singapore-based crypto investor who is actively involved in the NFT space with his own Metapurse NFT project. 

3. Clock — US$52.7M

Julian Assange & Pak — Clock

Clock was reportedly created to raise funds for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal defence against potential extradition to the US. The piece was a clock, showing how long Assange had been imprisoned. The AssangeDAO, a group of over 10,000 members on a self-proclaimed mission to ‘Free Julian Assange’, ultimately purchased the NFT for US$52.7 million.

Arguably, this NFT is more than a digital piece of art; it demonstrates the potential social impact of an NFT.

Beeple — HUMAN ONE

HUMAN ONE was sold at Christie’s 21st Century Art Evening Sale for US$28.985 million on 9 November 2021. The NFT was joined with a physical sculpture featuring a generative work of art that changes dynamically. It is a ‘kinetic video sculpture’ of polished aluminium metal and a mahogany frame, with four digital screens showing a loop of an astronaut walking through different environments. 

The NFT that accompanied the sculpture was of an astronaut travelling through different settings; based on the time of day, the settings would change. Also, in HUMAN ONE, Beeple hid clues for individuals to find so they could unlock additional NFTs. 

The physical artwork and the paired NFT have become one of the most expensive NFT pieces ever sold, solidifying Beeple as one of the most prolific in the industry. Dubbed ‘the world’s most famous digital artist’ by Christie’s, Beeple stated that he is dedicated to the piece and plans to continue to add and evolve it over his lifetime, bringing more mainstream attention to NFTs.

CryptoPunk #5822

Since being released as one of the very first NFT collections, CryptoPunks have become some of the most expensive and sought-after NFTs. CryptoPunks were free when they first came out, and all users needed to do was pay for the gas fee to acquire one. Launched in 2017 by two Canadian software developers under the company Larva Labs, the project was inspired by the London punk scene, cyberpunk movement, and electronic dance music artist Daft Punk. The CryptoPunks project’s intellectual property rights have since been acquired by Yuga Labs.

On a number of occasions, CryptoPunks have sold in the millions.

Top-selling CryptoPunks:

  • CryptoPunk #3100 — US$7.67M, 11 March 2021
  • CryptoPunk #4156 — US$10.26M, 10 December 2021
  • CryptoPunk #7523 — US$11.75M, 11 June 2021
  • CryptoPunk #5822 — US$23.7M, 13 February 2022

CryptoPunks have, to some extent, entered mainstream culture, and companies like Visa and celebrities like Jay-Z and Gary Vee have been reported to have purchased CryptoPunk NFTs.

Conclusion — Have We Seen the Peak of NFT Prices Yet?

While the NFT space is still new and emerging, it is clear that NFTs as a vehicle of expression are making a name for themselves. They have yet to enter mainstream adoption, but the NFTs described above show an explosive interest and relevance to these collections. 

Want to find out more about NFTs? Check out what makes an NFT popular.

Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research

All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by to invest, buy, or sell any digital assets. Returns on the buying and selling of digital assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction. Any descriptions of products or features are merely for illustrative purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, invitation, or solicitation.

Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of digital assets can decrease or increase, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a digital asset, it’s essential for you to do your own research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility. All prices quoted are current as of December 2022 and can fluctuate.