The Top 10 Most Expensive NFTs Sold on Ethereum
Since NFTs skyrocketed in popularity in 2021, the most expensive NFT sales have also increased at an astounding rate. Some collectors who got into NFTs years before have sold their NFTs for life-changing money, and digital artists have been able to monetize their work like never before.
It’s no surprise that many of the top 10 most expensive Ethereum NFT sales are CryptoPunks, the original profile picture NFT. The project is so significant that its creator Larva Labs has sold it to Yuga Labs, founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club, for an assumed (but undisclosed) fortune. You won’t find any Bored Apes on this list — yet.
The sales below don’t include collective DAO purchases, nor purchases via USD — these are Ethereum sales only. Below, we’ll also note some significant NFT sales in USD. Ethereum values to USD are as of the time of sale.
1. Beeple, Everydays: The First 5,000 Days — $69.3 million (auction)
While this historic Christie’s auction was technically done in USD, the artist Beeple took payment in Ethereum of $53 million for his cut. Mike Winkelmann (also known as Beeple) is a well-known digital artist who has had many other multi-million dollar NFT sales. He created a new piece every day for 5,000 days, and this is a collage of all of them.
2. CryptoPunk #5822, $23.8 million in Ethereum
Alien CryptoPunks are the rarest of all, with only nine aliens out of 10,000 punks in existence. The CEO of Chain Protocol Deepak Thapliyal made the massive purchase using Ethereum leverage.
Although the blue bandana isn’t the rarest of alien traits, it’s still a single-trait alien CryptoPunk, making its aesthetic desirable. Before this sale, this NFT sold for 8 Ethereum way back in 2017 — $1,600 at the time.
3. CryptoPunk #4156, $10.2 million in Ethereum
Punk4156 bought this NFT originally to build a brand around it (for $1.25 million), but when Larva Labs’ position on the IP topic became clear, he became disillusioned. This conflict was even used in a Beeple artwork, showing the “ape” trait CryptoPunk in chains.
He ultimately ended up selling it, and now uses a Nouns DAO avatar as his @punk4156 Twitter profile picture.
4. CryptoPunk #5577, $7.7 million in Ethereum
A cowboy hat CryptoPunk was bought by Compound DeFi protocol founder Robert Leshner. This ape CryptoPunk is also single-trait, a highly desired look in the CryptoPunk community. The seller known as Straybits has quite a unique story as well, as someone who owned many highly valuable NFTs and sold them early on.
5. CryptoPunk #3100, $7.7 million in Ethereum
A one-trait alien CryptoPunk sold in March 2021 with the headband trait. 406 CryptoPunks have the headband trait, but combined with the alien trait (only nine exist), it makes this ultra-rare. This is one of the highest earlier sales of CryptoPunks.
Of course, 4,200 Ethereum is an apt amount for the 420 meme in crypto Twitter.
6. CryptoPunk #7804, $7.7 million in Ethereum
Another alien punk made the list, another at 4.2k Ethereum. While the other top sales are single-trait, this one has three traits, including Pipe, Cap Forward, and Small Shades. The lucky seller was the CEO of Figma, Dylan Fields. He did an interview for Protocol about the sale.
7. Art Blocks Ringers #109, $6.9 million in Ethereum
This Ringers sale was another massive flip, as the seller purchased it for $230 only six months earlier. The sale came in the midst of a massive run on Art Blocks sales — a market which has since cooled off significantly.
This rare Ringers took the place of the previous Ringers #879 sale to make it the highest ever Art Blocks sale. It has a red trait found in only 0.31 percent of Ringers.
8. CryptoPunk #8857, $6.6 million in Ethereum
There are 88 Zombie CryptoPunks in existence, and #8857 sold for 2,000 Ethereum in September 2021. There are two traits on this zombie — Wild Hair and 3D Glasses. Before this sale, this Punk was purchased in 2018 for $1,717. Now that’s a come-up.
9. XCOPY, All Time High in the City, $6.2 million in Ethereum
This is one example of a most expensive NFT sale that is a 1-of-1 work of art by renowned NFT artist XCOPY. The image features a somewhat terrifying depiction of death, and sold on secondary for $6.2 million at the beginning of 2022.
It was originally minted back in 2018.
10. Art Blocks Ringers #879, $5.6 million in Ethereum
Singapore investment firm Three Arrows Capital purchased this Ringers, adding to its large portfolio of high-end Art Blocks. This piece is nicknamed “The Goose” for its striking resemblance to, well, a goose.
At the time of its purchase in August 2021, it was the highest Art Blocks sale on the platform, and helped push Art Blocks collections into a massive bullrun in fall 2021.
Nifty Gateway Top NFT Sales: Pak and XCOPY
You may have noticed that some of the top NFT sales of all-time didn’t make the list, including Pak’s Merge, which netted $91.8 million. That’s because they sold for USD on Nifty Gateway — an NFT platform with curated art drops with some of the best digital artists in the world.
Here are some notable sales in USD.
Merge is considered to be the highest art sale ever by a living artist in a public sale, either digital or physical, topping Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture, Rabbit ($91.1 million). Merge was an open edition on Nifty Gateway — meaning anyone could mint as many “mass” pieces as they wanted for a certain amount of time (48 hours, in this case).
28,893 collectors spent $91,806,519 to purchase 312,686 units of mass. Each collector’s units of mass could be merged to create unique NFTs for each collector. The NFT each received was dynamic based on the amount of mass they purchased, meaning the mass on the secondary market is deflationary.
These NFTs were purchased in USD, but live on the Ethereum blockchain after the purchase.
XCOPY’s true identity is not known, but he’s one of the most renowned and best-selling NFT artists in the space. His open edition on Nifty Gateway — MAX PAIN — sold 7,394 editions at $3,108 (the price of Ethereum at the time) in an hour.
Buyers all received the same copy of MAX PAIN, a looping GIF in the classic distorted, glitchy style that XCOPY has become well-known for. At the price of 1 Ethereum, MAX PAIN gave many collectors access to XCOPY’s work for the first time ever.
XCOPY has claimed that the piece is “waiting for the reveal” — likely a tongue-in-cheek play on PFP projects, but potentially a sign of future utility. You can buy MAX PAIN on secondary markets like OpenSea.
Before Beeple’s $69 million Everydays sale, he sold this video commentary on the 2020 U.S. election. It sold on the Nifty Gateway secondary market for $6.6 million in USD.
The piece, depicting a graffitied corpse of Donald J. Trump, originally sold for $66,000 in auction on Nifty Gateway.
TL;DR Most Expensive NFTs
The most expensive Ethereum NFTs have sold for eight figures in USD, and that’s nothing to scoff at. People are realizing the real-world value of digital art, scarcity, and verifiable ownership on the blockchain.
As NFTs continue to rise in popularity, we may see NFT sales going into the nine-figure territory. What those will be is anyone’s guess — will it be profile pictures? 1-of-1 art? Or will metaverse land sales skyrocket into the multimillions?
It’s anyone’s guess. But it’s clear that these massive sales are just getting started.
MomentRanks has all the latest NFT sales rankings available to check out sales trends, and track your own portfolio. Just search your wallet or ENS name on MomentRanks.com.