As you should know, the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are, in simple terms, collectible and thematic digital assets. They’re built with blockchain technology, the same as cryptocurrencies. However, they’re not spendable, and most are unique. Just like a work of art. And that’s it: just like artworks, the NFTs can be very expensive.
These digital artworks are resonating very loud lately. A lot of artists, celebrities, and even companies already have their own NFTs. Among them, we can mention Chris Torres (Nyan Cat’s creator), Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park), Lindsay Lohan, Kings of Leon, Elon Musk, Paris Hilton, PlayBoy, and an awful lot of athletes and sports teams.
The artists and celebrities are taking good (financial) advantage of the fever. Therefore, let’s check the most expensive NFTs ever sold to date and who is behind each one.
The first tweet — Jack Dorsey ($2.9m+)
An NFT can be any digital stuff, and here’s the definitive proof of it. Back in March 2006, Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, was setting up his own Twitter account. Then, he wrote a brief tweet about it. This was the first-ever tweet in the history of the platform.
Few people paid attention to that until now, when NFTs enabled a definitive proof of uniqueness and ownership for digital objects. Dorsey registered the tweet as an NFT on the platform Valuables in Cent, a blockchain-powered social media network. The tweet would stay on Twitter, of course, but the owner would have the unique token.
Last March, there was a bidding war mainly between Justin Sun (Tron founder) and Sina Estavi (Oracle CEO). Finally, Estavi kept the NFT for over 1,630 ETH (around $2.9m at the time). Dorsey donated the profits entirely to the Africa COVID-19 response by the crypto-charity GiveDirectly.
Ultraviolet Album — 3LAU ($3.6m+)
Justin Blau, better known as 3LAU, is a world-renowned musician and producer. Last February, he launched an NFT collection on Origin Protocol to commemorate the third anniversary of his album “Ultraviolet”. The collection included 33 NFTs redeemable for special-edition pieces of vinyl, unreleased music, and exclusive experiences with the artist.
Indeed, the higher bidder won a custom song and the opportunity to collaborate with him in a brand new single. That was the most expensive NFT of the collection, sold for over $3.6 million. Adding the rest of NFT-albums, the total amounts to $11.6 million in two days.
They’re working now on a secondary marketplace, “where exclusive 3LAU Ultraviolet collection NFTs can be bought and sold”. So, it’s even probable that these NFTs revalue in the future. 3LAU commented about it:
“I’m excited to help give power back to artists. This is the first step in a longer mission to connect artists directly to their fans, and allow artists to capture the value they create in the world.”
Stay Free — Edward Snowden ($5.5m+)
Let’s recap a bit. Edward Snowden is a former computer intelligence consultant of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), better known for leaking secret worldwide (and illegal) surveillance programs run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States).
He had to escape to Russia after that. However, he’s the current president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that aims to protect journalists from hacking and government surveillance. His only NFT, “Stay Free”, was auctioned in April to benefit this nonprofit.
Reads its description in Foundation App:
“This unique, signed work combines the entirety of a landmark court decision ruling the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance violated the law, with the iconic portrait of the whistleblower by Platon (used with permission). It is the only known NFT produced by Snowden.”
“Stay Free” was sold for 2,224 ETH, which means around $5.5m by then. The auction only lasted two days.
Alien Cryptopunks — Larva Labs ($7.58m+)
Back in 2017, Larva Labs minted on Ethereum a set of 10,000 pixelated small images of unique punks. And they just gave them away for free. Who would say every cryptopunk could be sold for over $1m in a couple of years? Because that’s the case now. Of course, there are rarer punks than others, but they’re expensive NFTs anyway.
On this collection, only 9 Aliens can be found (0.09%). The accessories and skin color can change too, and there’s no punk equal to another. That’s why last March two alien punks were sold for over $7.5m each one. The punk #3100 is a blue-greenish character with only a headband, while punk #7804 has a cap forward, small shades, and a pipe.
They were sold for $7.58 and $7.57 million, respectively. And they could be surpassed soon because the auction house Christie’s is going to sell 9 rare punks on their 21st Century Evening Sale this May in NY. Among them is the alien punk #635, and some estimations are waiting for bids even over $9 million.
Everydays: the first 5000 days — Beeple ($69.4m+)
This is a special one and for several reasons. At first glance, it’s a digital collage of tiny images, but it’s actually composed of 5,000 artworks that the artist started back in 2007, one per day. Just like that, Mike Winkelmann (better known as Beeple) created the most expensive NFT in history so far and sold it through the auction house Christie’s in March.
Curiously enough, Justin Sun was there again and only lost against Vignesh Sundaresan (MetaKovan). The new owner, who paid over $69.4m for the piece, expressed no regrets about the purchase. He also stated that he doesn’t have plans to sell this super expensive NFT anytime soon.
As of today, “Everydays: the first 5000 days” is considered the fourth most expensive artwork by a living artist, the first purely non-fungible token to be sold by Christie’s, and also the first one to be paid with ETH there.
In the same vein, the other artworks by this author are also expensive. “ Ocean Front” (an individual part of Everydays) was sold for $6m on Nifty Gateway (to Justin Sun), and “ Crossroads” was sold for $6.6m back in February, on the same platform. According to CryptoArt, in total, Beeple has sold 1,309 NFTs for over $142.5 million since late last year. Surely, there’s even more to come.