NFTs

Decoding the most expensive nft collections in 2024

10 Mins read

This guide will look at the top 15 most expensive NFTs ever sold. These sales show how valuable and important NFTs have become in the digital world. Each NFT has a special story and creator behind it, making them interesting and valuable to collectors.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have changed the world of art and digital collectibles. People now buy and sell digital items for huge sums of money. NFTs are unique digital assets that can be anything from art to music to videos. There are millions of NFTs available today, with some selling for millions of dollars. 

Beeple's Everydays NFT featuring 5,000 images

Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Beeple. Credit: Beeple via Christie’s

Top incredible secrets about the most expensive NFT collections:

  1. The Merge by Pak is the highest-selling NFT, sold for $91.8 million on December 2, 2021, and involves a unique sale method where buyers purchased “masses” to form larger pieces.
  2. The other most expensive NFTs sold include Everydays the First 5000 Days by Beeple, Clock, HUMAN ONE, and CryptoPunk #5822.
  3. The most expensive NFT collections based on total sales volume are Axie Infinity with $4.27 billion and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) with $3.16 billion in total sales.

Top 15 Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold and reasons behind

As more and more artists, celebrities, and brands drop their NFTs, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive NFTs ever sold. 

1. The Merge by Pak – The most expensive NFT in history

NFT Sales of the king of the most expensive NFTs

Acclaimed anonymous NFT artist, Pak’s ‘The Merge’ takes the crown as the highest sold NFT. On December 2, 2021, Pak created history by selling his artwork for a whopping $91.8 million. Actually, unlike most of the highest value NFTs, The Merge is not owned by a single collector. As a matter of fact, 28,893 collectors bought 312,686 masses (or units) of the Merge artwork. And each unit cost $575.

And the reason for its price

The Merge is unique in its concept and sale method. Instead of being a single piece, it is a collection of “masses” that buyers could purchase. The more masses someone bought, the larger their piece of “The Merge” became. This innovative approach led to a total of 28,983 collectors buying 312,686 units of mass. The final price reflects the combined value of all these units.

Still, some may argue about its price tag of the “most expensive NFT” because it all depends on whether “The Merge” counts as one big artwork or multiple combined artworks. 

Pak, an artist who chooses to remain anonymous, has been a prominent figure in the digital art and cryptocurrency media for over two decades. His most recognized accomplishment is the creation of “Archillect”, an artificial intelligence program designed to curate and share visually stimulating content.  

Earlier in 2022, Sotheby’s, a renowned auction house, partnered with Nifty Gateway, to sell Pak’s other NFT collection “The Fungible Collection”. This collection, also offered in an open edition format, garnered a remarkable US$16.8 million.

The Merge NFTs featuring a white dot in a black background

The Merge NFTs on Nifty Gateway. Credit: Nifty Gateway

2. Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Beeple 

About Everydays: The two-ranked masterpiece in the top expensive NFTs

Digital artist Michael Winkelmann, aka Beeple, had long held the record for the most expensive NFT. His artwork, Everydays: The First 5000 Days was auctioned at Christie’s for $69 million in March 2021. Interestingly, the initial bid was just $100. However, due to Beeple’s popularity in the crypto and art space, the bids skyrocketed in no time.

Everyday, the First 5000 Days is a collage of 5,000 individual pieces of art created by digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple. This NFT sold for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction on March 11, 2021.

Why does 5000 Days become the one of most expensive NFTs?

Beeple created one piece of digital art every day for 5,000 days, starting in May 2007, and compiled them into this massive, intricate collage. 

Vignesh Sundaresan, a programmer residing in Singapore and a crypto-currency investor, acquired “Everydays”.  Sundaresan, also known online by his pseudonym MetaKovan, is the founder of the “Metapurse NFT project”. The purchase was facilitated through cryptocurrency, with Sundaresan utilizing 42,329 Ether (ETH) to secure the artwork.

The First 5000 Days is a reflection of Beeple’s journey as an artist and his ability to adapt to changing trends in digital art. The sale of this NFT marked a significant moment in the history of digital art, highlighting the growing acceptance and value of NFTs in the art world.

3. Clock – Another highest sold NFT by Pak x Julian Assange

From political meaning to the top expensive NFTs in the world

Clock was created by Pak in collaboration with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. The crypto art features a timer counting the number of days Assange has been imprisoned. Every day, the timer updates itself to reflect how long Assange has been in prison. Eventually, in February 2022, AssangeDAO, consisting of over 10,000 Assange supporters, bought the NFT for $52.7 million

The Clock NFT by artist Pak

The Clock updates daily. Credit: Pak

Uniqueness and sympathy created the most expensive ranking

This NFT serves as a dynamic artwork that counts the number of days Assange has been imprisoned. The Julian Assange Defense Organization (AssangeDAO), a collective exceeding 100,000 members united by the declared objective of securing Julian Assange’s liberation, ultimately acquired the NFT for 16,593 ETH.

The proceeds from the sale were used to support Assange’s legal defense. Clock is not just an art piece but also a political statement, emphasizing the intersection of digital art, activism, and the power of NFTs to support causes. Pak’s collaboration with Assange underscores the potential of NFTs to transcend traditional art forms and become tools for social and political change.

4. Human One – The second most expensive NFT by Beeple

Human One but numerous

It sure seems like Beeple and Pak are battling for top spots on the list of highest sold NFTs! Fourth on the list is Human One, a stunning kinetic video sculpture that combines both physical and digital technology. In his own words, Beeple called the piece, “the first portrait of a human born in the metaverse.”

The over 7-foot-high sculpture features a person clad in silver garb and what looks like a space helmet. A dystopian setting of changing landscapes, projected on four walls, forms its background. Christie’s auctioned the NFT for nearly $29 million in November 2021.

Exclusive benefit from artist of the most expensive NFTs: Forever-changed

The physical sculpture for HUMAN ONE is an always-on kinetic 16K video sculpture that changes over 24 hours according to the time of day. The video will also change over time as the story unfolds. The sculpture measures 87 inches by 40 inches by 40 inches. It features a 16K resolution display encased in polished aluminum with a mahogany wood frame.

This NFT represents Beeple’s vision of the future and the merging of the physical and digital worlds. HUMAN ONE is constantly evolving, as Beeple has remote access to update the artwork, making it a living piece of art that changes over time.

Beeple’s Human One NFT is one of the highest sold NFTs featuring a person wlking

Beeple’s Human One NFT fetched $29 million. Credit: Christie’s

5. CryptoPunk #5822

Behind the scene of the most expensive collections: Always as amazing as the first

As one of the first-ever NFT projects in existence, several CryptoPunks have sold for jaw-dropping prices. Of this, CryptoPunk #5822 takes the top spot. It features a blue-skinned Alien, one of the only nine Alien Punks ever made. Deepak.eth, the CEO of blockchain-based technology company Chain, bought this rare NFT for around $23 million in February this year. 

Founded by software company, Larva Labs, CryptoPunks is a collection of 10,000 uniquely generated avatars. These were launched in 2017 on the Ethereum blockchain and were free for anyone with an ETH wallet to claim. Today, however, they are one of the most iconic and highly sought-after NFT projects in the market. 

The timely revolution is the secret weapon

CryptoPunk #5822 is particularly rare because it is one of only nine alien punks in the collection. The CryptoPunks project, launched in 2017, is considered one of the earliest and most influential NFT projects, setting the stage for the explosion of NFTs in the art and digital collectibles markets.There are many other high-selling NFTs in the CryptoPunks collection including (source):
#7804 — US$16.42M, 20 March 2024

#3100 — US$16.03M, 04 March 2024

#635 — US$12.41M, 25 April 2024

#2924 — US$4.45M, 28 Sep 2022

CryptoPunk-5822 with blue bandana

CryptoPunk #5822 is the most expensive CryptoPunk NFT. Credit: Larva Labs

6. CryptoPunk #7523

Another alien CryptoPunk is the sixth most expensive NFT ever sold. Auction house Sotheby’s auctioned CryptoPunk #7523 in June 2021 as part of its iconic digital auction, Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale. It fetched $11.75 million—the highest for any CryptoPunk at the time. 

As the only Alien Punk with a medical mask, it is one of the rarest CryptoPunks in existence. It also features a rare knitted cap and an earring. 

Cryptopunk #7523 with a mask

Cryptopunk #7523

7. TPunk #3442 is top 7 of the most expensive digital art ever sold

Next on the list is TPunk #3442, which Tron CEO, Justin Sun bought for 120 million TRX or about $10.5 million (at the time) in August 2021. The NFT in question is popularly known as “Joker” due to its resemblance to the Batman villain. It is a part of the Tpunks collection, a CryptoPunk derivative project with 10,000 NFTs.

Originally, these copycat NFTs cost 1,000 TRX or $123 each to mint. However, Sun’s purchase shot up the value of TPunks, with many collectors rushing to buy the NFTs. Indeed, TPunk #3442 was the most expensive NFT sold on the Tron blockchain.

TPunk #3442  featuring a joker pixelated avatar

Justin Sun bought TPunk #3442 for a whopping $10.5 million.

8. CryptoPunk is the best ranking NFT collection: #4156

Well, the CryptoPunks have done it again! CryptoPunk #4156 is the eighth highest sold NFT. Unlike the CryptoPunks above, #4156 is an Ape type—that too, one of the only 24. Because of its rarity, this CryptoPunk has been sold several times, fetching $10.26 million in its last sale in December. Actually, just 10 months before that, it sold for $1.25 million!

Additionally, the Punk spots a Bandana, an attribute only 5% of the collection has. Besides, it only features one attribute, another rare trait only 2% of the collection enjoys. Currently, its owner has not listed the punk for sale.

Ape CryptoPunk NFT with a blue bandana

CryptoPunk #4156 fetched $10.26 million. Credit: Larva Labs

9. Call CryptoPunk again in the top valuable NFTs: #5577 – $7.7 million

In February 2022, another ape type CryptoPunk made it to the highest sold NFTs list. CryptoPunk #5577 sold for a whopping $7.7 million, making it the fourth most expensive CryptoPunk in the market. Many believe that Robert Leshner, the founder of Compound DeFi protocol, bought the NFT.

CryptoPunk #5577 of an ape with brown cowboy hat

CryptoPunk #5577. Credit: OpenSea

The rare NFT has a single attribute, which in itself is rare as only 2% of Punks have this. Besides, it adorns a Cowboy Hat, a trait shared by 1% of Punks.

10. CryptoPunk #3100 – The fifth most expensive CryptoPunk NFT

The title of the fifth most expensive CryptoPunk NFT goes to CryptoPunk #3100. Another Alien Punk, it sold for $7.67 million about a year ago. Actually, that was the first time this particular Punk was listed for sale since it was minted in 2017. As a rare Alien Punk, it was quickly sold for a hefty sum. To its credit, it also features a rare headband (only 406 Punks have this) and a single attribute. 

Alien Punk CryptoPunk #3100

CryptoPunk #3100 is another Alien Punk. Credit: Larva Labs

11. Another top pricest NFT from CryptoPunk #7804 

CryptoPunk #7804 is again a rare Alien Punk, sold for $7.57 million. Actually, it sold just a day before #3100 and was the most expensive Punk at the time. However, unlike the other Alien Punks on this list, #7804 spots a number of attributes.

Firstly, it is the only Alien Punk with a Pipe. A Pipe in itself is a rare attribute, as only 317 Punks have it. Similarly, CryptoPunk #7804 features a Cap Forward, which only 254 punks have. Lastly, it also has a Small Shade. As another rare trait, only 378 punks have this. Thus, with all these features, #7804 is an incredibly valuable NFT to hold.

CryptoPunk #7804 with a pipe

12. Highest-Selling NFT: Right Click And Save As Guy by XCOPY

Top selling crypto artist, XCOPY needs no introduction. He is famous for his dystopian and death-themed artworks. The anonymous artist sold his “Right-click and Save As Guy” NFT artwork for a staggering $7 million. The NFT was purchased by none other than Cozomo de’ Medici, one of the most acclaimed collectors in the NFT space.

An artwork in bright shades of green and purple of a person in pink glasses

Right Click And Save As Guy by XCOPY. Credit: XCOPY via SuperRare

The NFT piece in itself is an iconic artwork in the industry. He named it ‘Right Click And Save As Guy’ as a joke given how several people believe that NFTs can be easily right-clicked and downloaded. Created on December 6, 2018, the piece was first sold for 1 ETH or about $90 at the time.

13. Costliest NFT: Ringers #109 by Dmitri Cherniak

Created by Canadian artist and coder, Dmitri Cherniak, Ringers is one of the most expensive NFT collections on the Art Blocks platform. The collection includes 1,000 generative art NFTs made up of “strings and pegs”. Currently, even the least expensive Ringer will cost you about $88,000.

Ringers 109 NFT with black and white pegs

Ringers #109 by Dmitri Cherniak. Credit: OpenSea

Within the collection, Ringers #109 holds the record for the highest sold NFT. Moreover, it is the most expensive NFT on the Art Blocks platform, after it sold for $6.93 million last year.

14. Top NFT of 2024: CryptoPunk #8857

Another CryptoPunk! CryptoPunk #8857 is one of the most expensive NFTs ever sold, going for a whopping $6.63 million in an auction on OpenSea. What makes it special is that it’s one of the 88 Zombie Punks, with crazy hair and cool 3D glasses. Obviously, CryptoPunks are really popular, and this one made it to the 14th spot on the list of most expensive NFTs. It shows just how valuable and sought-after these digital collectibles can be!

CryptoPunk #8857

CryptoPunk #8857. Image Credit: OpenSea

15. Crossroad – by Beeple: Politics and Art again in high-ranking NFTs

Meaningful is all with this most expensive NFT!

When Beeple’s Crossroad sold for $6.6 million on Nifty Gateway in February 2021, it was the highest any NFT had sold for at the time. Besides, with NFTs not yet mainstream, such expensive sales were uncommon. However, by this time, Beeple had already become quite famous in the art space. Indeed, just two months before, he sold a series of NFTs for $3.5 million. This was just the beginning of bigger things to come.

Created in response to the 2020 US presidential election, Crossroads is a 10-second video with two outcomes. If Donald Trump won, it would show a victorious Trump. However, if he lost—which he did—the artwork would play a dispirited Trump. 

Crossroad by Beeple featuring Donald Trump

Crossroad by Beeple. Credit: Beeple via Nifty Gateway

Thus, the final piece shows a fallen, naked person (symbolic of Trump) lying on the streets as others pass by. Insults are also written all over the person’s body. Interestingly, the NFT sold before the election. 

While this list talks about only fifteen of the most expensive NFTs ever sold, several others have sold for millions of dollars. Many of these include CryptoPunks and Beeple’s other artworks. Others are ‘All Time High in the City’ by XCOPY, Edward Snowden’s Stay Free, and Bored Ape #8817, to name a few. In the coming months, we can expect more NFTs to break the current records. 

Conclusion

The world of digital art has seen astonishing NFT sales, with artists like Pak and Beeple leading the charge in creating highly valuable digital artwork. The Merge, The First 5000 Days, Clock, HUMAN ONE, and CryptoPunk #5822 represent the pinnacle of this new form of art and are the most expensive NFT sales in this digital collectibles world.

Each piece has its unique story, creator, and significance, reflecting the diverse and dynamic nature of the NFT space. As the digital asset market continues to evolve and AI enters, you will see many generative NFT art collections, but the above expensive artworks serve as milestones for the future of NFTs.

FAQs

What is the highest-selling NFT Collection?

According to CryptoSlam, the Axie Infinity NFT collection is the highest-selling collection to date, collecting a total of US$4.27 billion in sales. It is followed by the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection, with a total of US$3.16 billion in sales.

What is the most expensive NFT?

The most expensive NFT art ever sold is “The Merge” by Pak, which fetched $91.8 million on Nifty Gateway, one of the best NFT marketplaces. This innovative piece was sold in December 2021 and involved multiple collectors buying different units of the artwork.

What kind of NFT sells best?

The most successful NFTs typically have unique, innovative qualities and are created by well-known artists. Collections like CryptoPunks, works by Beeple, and other pieces that offer something unique or culturally significant tend to sell well. NFTs that integrate real-world impact or utility also attract high value.

Are NFTs still profitable?

Yes, NFTs can still be profitable, but success depends on various factors. The NFT market has seen rapid growth, with some pieces selling for millions of dollars. However, it’s also highly volatile, and not every NFT will yield a profit. Factors like the reputation of the artist, the uniqueness of the NFT, and NFT market trends play crucial roles.


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