11 Questions the Art Market Should Have About the Bored Ape Yacht Club, the NFT Craze Raking in Millions, Answered by an Actual Expert

More than 100 of these apes are on sale at Sotheby's through September 9.

Yuga Labs, Bored Ape Yacht Club 4466. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

CryptoPunks aren’t the only NFT characters drawing the attention of crypto-investors and auction houses alike. A new craze in digital collectables called the Bored Ape Yacht Club has generated tens of millions of dollars at warp speed and is the subject of sales at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The former is offering one Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT in a sale in Hong Kong scheduled for September 19. Sotheby’s, meanwhile, is selling a collection of 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs online through September 9. Offered as a single lot, the group is estimated to fetch between $12 million and $18 million. As of Thursday afternoon, shortly after bidding went live, the price was up to $4.5 million

If you happen to be the winning bidder of this lot, you will also get six “mutant serums,” which allow you to create additional Bored Ape NFTs. (Don’t worry—I’ll explain what all this means below.) 

That’s not all. The auction house is also selling off a second lot of canine companions to the apes: 101 Bored Ape Kennel Club NFTs. Sotheby’s expects these to go for $1.5 million to $2 million.  

In addition to fiat, Sotheby’s is accepting Bitcoin, Ether, and USDC as payment options, which will be facilitated through Coinbase Commerce.

Here are answers to all your burning questions about the Bored Ape Yacht Club and those doggos.  

Yuga Labs, 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club (2021).

Yuga Labs, Bored Ape Yacht Club 7940. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

1. Let’s start at the beginning. What are Bored Apes?

Created by Yuga Labs, a Delaware company established in February, the Bored Ape Yacht Club is a set of collectable NFTs representing 10,000 cartoon primates with a Bohemian vibe. They all look a little grumpy or stoned. 

The JPEGs were randomly created from 172 traits, some rarer than others. Certain apes wear hats; some have a knife or a slice of pizza dangling out of their mouths; others smoke. Each ape is unique. They often serve as their owners’ profile pictures on Twitter.  

These NFT collectibles seem to be the rage right now. Currently, the Bored Ape Yacht Club follows CryptoPunks and Art Blocks as the third most popular NFT project by seven-day trading volume, according to Nonfungible.com, a site that tracks NFTs.  

Whereas CryptoPunks, a collection of hugely popular NFTs released by a company called LarvaLabs in 2017, are pixelated avatars, the Bored Ape Yacht Club features rich, detailed images. The founders also try to emphasize the community elements of the collectables; if you own one, you are part of the club. 

The NFTs themselves live on the Ethereum blockchain and are based on the ERC-721 token standard, a blueprint for creating non-fungible tokens that are compatible with lots of other existing token interfaces, such as digital wallets and online auction platforms.

Yuga Labs, Bored Ape Yacht Club 5812. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

2. Is there anything unique about the Sotheby’s apes?

Three of the apes in the Sotheby’s lot have gold fur, a trait shared by only 46 apes. And four have “trippy” or rainbow-colored fur. Only 77 rainbow-colored fur apes exist. This makes them potentially more valuable. 

As part of the haul, Sotheby’s is also offering six mutant serums (again, more on that in a minute). 

 

3. How long has BAYC been around?

Not long! The Bored Ape Yacht Club originally launched around five months ago, in April. At the time, you could get the NFTs at a price of about $200 a pop in Ether. Within one day, all of the apes were snatched up for a total of 800 Ether, netting Yuga Labs more than $2 million. 

Now, if you want a Bored Ape NFT, you have to buy one on a secondary market, mainly on OpenSea. They’ve gotten pretty pricey.

The cheapest apes currently go for around $140,000 in Ether. Recently, two apes, one with a rainbow captain’s hat and another with rainbow fur, each sold for $1.4 million in Ether.

Jermaine Depri’s Bored Ape Twitter avatar.

4. Who is buying these apes?

On August 29, NBA star Stephen Curry bought an ape for $180,000 in Ether. Musician Jermaine Dupri uses one that he purchased as his Twitter avatar. Consumer brand AriZona Iced Tea is also part of the club. NFT whales @pranksy and @j1mmyeth claimed on Twitter to have collectively bought 250 ape NFTs in the primary sale on April 24.

 

5. You said something about mutant serums. What are those?

Every now and then, Bored Ape NFT holders get a little surprise, which often comes in the form of new NFTs. Last month, every Bored Ape owner received an airdrop of a “mutant serum,” which allows them to generate a mutant ape based on the ape they already own. Mutant apes—think of them as creepy versions of the originals—often look like they have green slime dripping down their faces.

Yuga Labs offers three tiers of mutant serums—M1, M2, and M3 (also known as Mega Mutant Serum)—and there are limited numbers of each. The project gave out 7,500 M1, 2,492 M2, and eight M3 mutant serums. 

If a Bored Ape is “injected” with an M1 or M2 serum, the resulting mutant ape retains traits of the original. The M3 serum creates a completely new ape, with super rare traits. The airdrop was a boon to Bored Ape holders because it allowed them to keep their original NFT while minting a valuable extra token.

The successful bidder at the Sotheby’s auction will receive three M1 and three M2 mutant serums. You can flip the serum, an NFT in its own right, on OpenSea, or you can sell the mutant ape that you create from the serum, also on OpenSea. 

 

6. Do we know who the seller (or sellers) are behind these NFT lots?

No, we do not. A spokesperson from Sotheby’s said the auction house cannot comment on the identity of their clients. (Though one imagines that they know the original sellers, so as not to put themselves at risk of any money-laundering activity.)

Yuga Labs, Bored Ape Kennel Club 5211. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

7. What is the Bored Ape Kennel Club?

Glad you asked. In early August, all Bored Ape holders got another surprise: a companion NFT from the Bored Ape Kennel Club. It’s basically an image of a dog. 

Again, this benefits Bored Ape holders as now they have yet another NFT they can turn around and sell on the secondary market. There is a concern, however, that all of these new NFTs could dilute the market. 

The cheapest Bored Ape Kennel Club NFT is currently going for $13,000 in Ether. One of the canines in the Sotheby’s lot has gold fur, a trait shared by only 1 percent of all the dog NFTs.  

 

8. Tell me about Yuga Labs. Who are the founders?

Yuga Labs is a pretty new company, established in February. We don’t know the real identities of the founders. There are four of them, and they all go by pseudonyms: Gargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and No Sass. 

Based on what they’ve told the press, Gargamel and Gordon Goner are two literary nerds who met in Miami about a decade ago when they were in their early 20s. They first got into crypto in 2017. After they came up with the idea for an NFT project, they joined up with blockchain coders Ketchup and Sass. 

 

9. Did the founders actually draw the apes?

No, the founders did not create the art. They worked with several work-for-hire artists.

Chloe Yee May appears to be the illustrator who created the core design for the apes, based on concept sketches she posted on Twitter. “It was a blast helping to design the grumpy degenerate monkeys,” she said. 

 

10. What’s the Bored Ape collector community like?

One of the big things people like about collectable NFTs is community. The Bored Ape Yacht Club has an active Discord channel with 35,000 registered members, 9,000 of whom were active when I checked. There are separate buy and sell channels, such as #want-to-buy-mutant and #want-to-sell-mutant, for those who want to bypass OpenSea and trade the various ape, mutant serum, and kennel club NFTs directly.  

Yuga Labs has also given the owners of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs commercial rights over their apes, so that members can brand their own projects or products and sell them independently (though it remains difficult to police who, exactly, has the rights and who doesn’t). There is an entire Discord channel, #report-unlicensed-apes, devoted to reporting unlicensed use of the images online. 

If you are an NFT owner, you also get a few other perks, like access to “swamp club for apes” and a member’s-only graffiti board, according to the Bored Ape Yacht Club website. People who own Bored Apes tend to post the avatars on their Twitter profiles, like a status symbol. 

A screen shot of a Bored Ape channel on Discord.

A screen shot of a Bored Ape channel on Discord.

11. Will I get rich if I buy a Bored Ape NFT? 

You should only invest as much in NFTs as you are comfortable in losing. NFTs are a gamble, and there is no guarantee that their value will continue to go up in the future. However, when NFTs sell on big auction houses, like Sotheby’s, it generally brings a lot of attention to the space. 


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