Here Are the 10 Most Expensive NFT Artworks, From Beeple’s $69 Million Opus to an 18-Year-Old’s $500,000 Vampire Queen
Plus, a round-up of 9 other precedent-setting NFTs to know.
The art world may not have seen Beeple coming, but crypto-art fans have been voraciously buying NFT artworks—unique digital assets, individually identified on a blockchain called non-fungible tokens—at increasingly stratospheric prices over the past few months.
In January and February alone, there were $300 million in NFT sales, according to Cointelegraph. OpenSea, a leading NFT marketplace, had monthly sales of just $1.5 million a year ago—a figure that jumped to $8 million in January and an astonishing $86.3 million in February.
Nifty Gateway, which is owned by the Winkelvoss twins, of Facebook infamy—and founded by fellow twins Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster—only launched one year ago this month. In 2020, it conducted $12 million in sales. In February, a single Beeple on the site sold for more than half that amount.
In fact, since first venturing into the NFT art world in October, Beeple alone has sold $102.2 million in art. With just 842 works that have come to the market, that means the average Beeple NFT is work $121,422. But Beeple isn’t the only highly sought-after crypto artist in the game.
The NFT art market explosion has seen five of the top ten prices set this month, according to the website Cryptoart, which tracks the most expensive NFT artworks on major platforms—and that’s not even counting collectible “Crypto Punks,” 24-by-24 pixel drawings of 10,000 unique collectible characters that can fetch more than $1 million each, with a record-breaking alien punk selling for $7.5 million on March 11.
Here are the top 10 most-expensive individual NFTs of all time—plus nine others you should know.
10. FEWOCiOUS, The EverLasting Beautiful by FEWOCiOUS
$550,000, March 2021, Nifty Gateway
FEWOCiOUS, a semi-anonymous 18-year-old artist from Las Vegas named Victor, is in his last year of high school. When someone first suggested he try NFTs, “I was like, what’s the catch? And they’re like, ‘no, we just want you guys to actually get noticed and compensated for your work and be seen as almost like a physical artist,’” FEWOCiOUS told Decrypt.
His most expensive work to date, The EverLasting Beautiful by FEWOCiOUS, sold for $550,000, including the original canvas on which the animation was based.
9. Trevor Jones and Jose Delbo, Genesis
$552,603.98, October 2020, MakersPlace
At age 87, comic book artist José Delbo has fully embraced crypto art, dropping his first NFT last August after a summer of cancelled comic book conventions. He teamed up with painter and cryptoartist Trevor Jones for an oil painting version of one of the Delbo’s inked drawings of Batman.
8. Chris Torres, Nyan Cat
$561,000, February, 2021, Foundation
In celebration of the 10th birthday of Nyan Cat, an animated gif of a cat with a Pop Tart body flying through space, trailed by a streaming rainbow, creator Chris Torres turned the meme into an NFT and auctioned it off. It sold for 300 ether, or roughly $561,000.
Torres has since lent his assistance to the figures behind other popular memes looking to translate their viral popularity to success on the NFT market. The digital artist has helped meme subjects like “Bad Luck Brian” and “Scumbag Steve”—which are, respectively, an awkward-looking yearbook photo that first went viral in 2012 and a photo of a teen in a sideways cap that gained a following starting in 2011—mint their own NFTs, arranging a #memeconomy sale on NFT marketplace Foundation.
Bad Luck Brian went for 20 ether ($36,000), while Scumbag Steve fetched 30 ether ($57,000).
7. Beeple, The Complete MF Collection
$777,777.77, Nifty Gateway, December 2020
Over the course of 48 hours, Mike “Beeple” Winkelmann broke digital records in December by selling $3.5 million in NFT art in a single drop. The weekend’s sales included 20 one-of-one edition artworks called “Beeple Everydays: The 2020 Collection” from the “Everydays” series that collectively fetched $2.2 million. The buyer of all 20, a crypto-exclusive fund called Metapurse, was also behind the artist’s record-breaking Christie’s sale earlier this month—but lost out on a literal last-second bid of $777,777 for the set as a single NFT, titled The Complete MF Collection.
At the time, it was a record price for a work of NFT art. Beeple also offered $1 limited edition works in sets of 100 and three open edition images at a fixed price of $969. The total over the two days equalled 11 months worth of sales on SuperRare, a leading crypto art platform, according to CoinCodex.
Anonymous crypto-artist Pak was actually the first big name in the game, breaking into the NFT art market way back in February 2020. “No creator has had more success selling their work on Ethereum,” a blog post for media brand the Control stated in September.
Although Pak has since been eclipsed by Beeple, the artist, who uses the pronoun they, still fills two slots on the top ten NFT sales, and is on deck to become Sotheby’s first NFT artist.
5. Steve Aoki and Antoni Tudisco, hairy
$888,888.88, March 2021, Nifty Gateway
Capitalizing on NFT mania, DJ and producer Steve Aoki released an 11-piece digital art collection, called “Dreamcatcher,” with German 3-D illustrator Antoni Tudisco. On March 9, 2021, one of the works, the animation Hairy, set what was touted as a new record for the most expensive NFT artwork. Each piece comes with an Infinite Objects physical display case.
4. Pak, Metarift
$904,413.47, March 2021, Market
The newest entry on the list, the press release for Pak’s biggest sale to date with an $888,888 bid—NFT collectors like flashy numbers—hit Artnet News’s inboxes minutes after we had finished edited this article Friday afternoon, illustrating the fast-growing nature of the rapidly evolving NFT art market. In fact, the auction went even higher before its close Saturday afternoon, ending just shy of the million mark for the mesmerizing video animation—a benchmark Pak seems almost certain to break at his forthcoming big auction debut.
3. Kevin Abosch, Forever Rose
$1 million, February 2018, GIFTO
Missing from most lists of top NFT art sales is Forever Rose, which dropped on Valentine’s Day in 2018—before the term NFT was even in common parlance among cryptoart’s early adopters. It was purchased for an even $1 million by a collective of investors for cryptocurrencies from artist Kevin Abosch, who previously made headlines with the $1 million sale of a photograph of a dirty potato,
2. Beeple, Crossroads
$6.6 million, February 2021, Nifty Gateway
Beeple minted his first NFTs in October 2020, for a sale he titled “The First Drop.” He sold Crossroads, which featured two possible images—one marking a Donald Trump election victory, the other, his defeat—on Nifty Gateway that month for $66,666.66.
Just a few months later, the resale figure was 100 times more—and the shifting artwork had locked in, revealing an animation of Trump’s bloated, graffitied corpse lying naked on the side of the road.
1. Beeple, Everydays—The First 5000 Days
$69 million, March 2021, Christie’s
On February 16, Christie’s announced that it would offer it’s first-ever purely digital blockchain artwork—a claim that is now being contested—selling a collage of Beeple’s first 5,000 “Everydays,” the digital drawings he had been creating since May 1, 2007. (Beeple’s recent pieces in the series are sophisticated digital renderings, but the earlier pieces are more akin to rough doodles, and much of the imagery is offensive.)
Bids started at just $100, but quickly skyrocketed into the millions, before selling for an astonishing $69 million—making Beeple not only the creator of the most expensive NFT art ever, but the third-most-expensive of all living artists, behind only Jeff Koons and David Hockney.
Other Notable NTF Art
bananaman, banana & tape
asking price $146,2146, Rarifed
No buyer for this one yet, but considering that three separate collectors were inspired to buy a $150,000 certificate entitling them to duct tape a banana to the wall and call it Maurizio Cattelan’s The Comedian, who’s to say that there won’t be similar interest in a pixelated version?
The asking price, naturally, is 80 ether, or about $146,246.
Ryder Ripps and Azealia Banks, I FUCKED RYDER RIPPS
$17,240, March 2021, Foundation
Conceptual artist Ryder Ripps, who has previously collaborated with Pornhub, teamed up with his girlfriend, rapper Azealia Banks, to release an audio sex tape NFT. Featuring a 24-minute WAV file recording a sexual encounter between the couple, the NFT, which sold at the asking price of 10 ether within nine hours, also came with a signed LP vinyl record version of the album.
The week before, Ripps had sold the Deal With It sunglasses GIF he created in 2010 on Foundation for 15 ether, or about $26,137.
Robert Alice, Block 21
$131,000, October 2020, Christie’s
Christie’s first foray into the NFT space came last year, with the sale of Robert Alice’s painted wall relief, Block 21 (42.36433° N, -71.26189° E), and an accompanying NFT. The work, which sold for $131,250, was part of the artist’s “Portraits of a Mind,” a 40-piece series that painted the hexadecimal code behind Bitcoin. It will feature, along with work by Beeple, FEWOCiOUS, and Mad Dog Jones, among others, in the world’s first NFT art exhibition, opening later this week at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.
$320,000, February 2021
Inspired by Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog comic book character-turned meme, Rare Pepes are digital trading cards on the Bitcoin blockchain, purchased with Pepe Cash and a Rare Pepe Wallet. The one-of-a-kind Homer Pepe first made headlines in 2018 when Peter Kell purchased it for what Mashable described as the “ridiculous” amount of $39,000 at the world’s first digital art auction, held at Rare Art Labs Digital Art Festival in New York. (Apparently, there was confusion over who placed the winning bed, and Kell had to prevail in a coin toss before he could take home the prize.)
Kell flaunted his ownership of the NFT in the 2020 Pepe the Frog documentary Feels Good Man, renting a Lamborghini for his onscreen appearance in the hopes of raising interest from prospective buyers—but it took the recent NFT craze to finally make the sale to blockchain investor TokenAngels happen.
Andrés Reisinger, “The Shipping”
$450,000, Nifty Gateway, February 2021
When furniture designer Andrés Reisinger released a collection of 10 of his whimsical, sometimes outright impossible objects as NFTs, they were a hit at auction, selling out in just 10 minutes. But unlike your typical NFT, half of the furniture renderings will actually be manufactured, turning the designs into physical objects the buyer can incorporate into their home decor.
Krista Kim, Mars House
$512,000, March 2021, SuperRare
The most expensive NFT art sale by a woman artist, Krista Kim’s Mars House was bumped from the top 10 just two days after selling for $512,000 last week. The artwork was billed as “the first NFT digital house in the world,” and is made up of 3-D files designed to be viewed with virtual reality or augmented reality technology. The piece, which Kim describes as a glass-walled “light sculpture” overlooking the rocky Martian landscape, also includes a soundtrack composed by Jeff Schroeder of the Smashing Pumpkins.
“Soon, we will all live in AR through our real environments using SuperWorld, a new app that has mapped the entire world for AR interface,” Kim told Dezeen. “Virtual real estate based on the real world can be purchased on SuperWorld, and in the very near future, this app will allow us to mint 3D NFTs and create a marketplace of digital AR assets.” (If you’re skeptical about the virtual world, the artist also claims that glass furniture-makers in Italy can build the physical home and all the furniture in it.)
Justin Roiland, “The Best I Could Do”
$1.65 million, January 2021, Nifty Gateway
Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland offered over a dozen artworks in his first NFT art collection in January, led by his Simpsons homage The Smintons, at $290,100. “Testing the boundaries of crypto art. What makes something valuable? The art? The artist? The process? The state of mind while created? The intention of the piece?” he wrote on Twitter. “Feeling really good about this collection.”
In his second drop on March 17, Roiland pulled the $69,000 NFT To a Better Artist Than Me ahead of the sale, gifting it to Beeple as an homage to the $69 million sale.
Trevor Jones, Bitcoin Angel
$3.2 million, Nifty Gateway, February 2021
On February 25, 2021, Trevor Jones set a new record for the most expensive open edition NFT artwork by selling 4,157 editions of his painting Bitcoin Angel for $777 each over just seven minutes. Jones also had just the second NFT drop to exceed $1 million, a collaboration with Pak titled “The Collision” that brought in $1.3 million in December 2020.
Mad Dog Jones, “Crash + Burn”
$3.9 million, February 2021, Nifty Gateway
Mad Dog Jones topped Beeple’s December drop when two open edition NFTs brought in $3.9 million, selling for $2,500 and $5,000 a piece. A one-of-one edition piece, Boardwalk, separately brought in $388,888 the same day.
Grimes, “WarNymph Collection Vol. 1”
$5.8 million, March 2021, Nifty Gateway
Claire “Grimes” Boucher entered the NFT arena with splash, dropping “WarNymph Collection Vol. 1,” a collaboration with her brother, Mac Boucher, on Nifty Gateway on March 1. The entire series was sold out within 20 minutes. (The musician first unveiled her artworks last year in a digital show with Los Angeles dealer Michele Maccarone on GalleryPlatform.LA.)
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