A 24 x 24 pixel image sold for a whopping 140 ETH, or $176k, the highest USD price on-record for a non-fungible token. It’s the latest sign that the crypto art market is heating up.
The piece sold is CryptoPunk 8219, one of 24 Ape punks. To some, it’s just a low-resolution image of a monkey linked to an Ethereum token. But to those buying these tokens for many thousands of dollars, they’re scarce collectibles, badges of honor, or even tickets into an exclusive club.
Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks line is the grandfather of the crypto art movement. They inspired the initial creation of non-fungible tokens and the Ethereum ERC-721 standard that backs ownership of unique digital collectibles. Within the CryptoPunks line—which consists of 10,000 unique, algorithmically-generated 24 x 24 pixel characters—apes are the second rarest. (Aliens are the rarest, with only 9 out there.) Each one sports a different accessory. The high-selling ape is wearing a beanie.
“When I first delved into NFTs it happened by accident,” the ape’s buyer, who goes by the pseudonym “gmoney” and uses the beanie-wearing ape image as his avatar, tells The Defiant.
“I kinda thought they were too expensive and I was too late. But as I was spending more time in different community projects, people kept telling me I HAD to own a punk…CPs [CryptoPunks] are the first NFT project on Eth, so there’s some historical significance there as well.”
Gmoney explains that with the world increasingly gravitating towards digital spaces, exclusive digital collectibles will take on the same sort of “flex” weight as Rolex watches and Lamborghini. In other words, high-end digital art is a new breed of status symbol.
“…With a NFT, by posting it as my avatar on twitter and discord, I can quickly “flex” with a picture,” he tweeted in a public thread explaining his purchase. “It has the same effect as wearing that Rolex in real life, but digitally.”
Indeed, the massive success of video games like Fortnite—which made $1.8 billion in 2019 selling digital skins with no function other than changing an avatar’s aesthetic—is proof of how younger generations are primed to value digital assets as status symbols.
In fact, playing Fortnite with his friends’ nephews during quarantine was a major influence on gmoney’s initial interest in NFTs. “To be perfectly honest, I had zero interest in NFT’s until after a few months of playing Fortnite, and literally every kid asking me which skins I bought,” says gmoney. “I think it’s a little more conceptual to wrap your head around since it’s digital and not physical, but humans will be humans, whether they sit in front of a computer, or are in a room with 100 people.”
Gmoney makes a good point. From original Van Goghs to First Edition Charizard cards, people have always wanted to own rare things as status symbols. In the grand scheme of things, an NFT of an ape wearing a beanie valued at 140 ETH fits right in.