Last Updated on February 4, 2023
For those of you actively participating in the industry, you’ve probably caught wind of some of the outrageous fees that buyers have been forking out for various NFT collections. Since this novel technology broke through into the mainstream in 2021, NFTs have quickly started to disrupt the art world and countless more industries across the globe.
As a result, there has been a huge amount of speculation and price volatility within the NFT space, much of which has led to some exorbitant fees being paid for digital artwork (even way up into the eight-figure range).
With their provable scarcity, public ownership history, and verifiable authenticity, it seems as though investors feel more than comfortable purchasing digital artwork at an eyewatering cost, which is an indication that NFTs are far more than mere hype. On that note, here are ten of the most expensive NFTs ever sold (as of February 2022).
Note: We have included a mention of record breaking NFT sales that took place after this article was written below. Please see “Updated Entries” for any sales conducted after February 7th 2022.
Table of Contents
- Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold (So Far)
- 10 – A Coin for the Ferryman – $6.01 million
- 9 – Crossroad – $6.6M
- 8 – Ringers #109 – $6.93M
- 7 – Right-Click and Save As Guy – $7.09M
- 6 – CryptoPunk #7804 – $7.57 million
- 5 – CryptoPunk #3100 — $7.58M
- 4 – CryptoPunk #7523 – $11.75M
- 3 – Human One – $29.98M
- 2 – The First 5000 Days – $69.3 million
- 1 – The Merge – $91.8 million
- Updated Entries
- Final thought
Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold (So Far)
10 – A Coin for the Ferryman – $6.01 million
Kicking off our list in the number ten spot is “A Coin for the Ferryman,” one of the earliest works by Xcopy, an anonymous, London-based artist who was one of the first to truly delve into the crypto art space. It was sold for $6.01 million on November 4, 2021.
This rather unsettling NFT gif is a one-of-a-kind piece (minted in 2018), depicting a man with constantly shifting facial expressions. Most people interpret these looks as ominous in some way, especially considering the artwork’s title.
In Greek mythology, “a coin for the ferryman” was a payment or bribe made to Charon, the Ferryman who transported souls over the river that separated the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead.
9 – Crossroad – $6.6M
When it was sold for $6.6 million in February 2021, Crossroad was the most expensive NFT sale in the world. This sale was one of the primary catalysts for many of the incredible figures you will see later on in this list, some of which were sold by the very same artist.
Mike Winkelmann, a digital artist named Beeple, is one of the most successful NFT artists around. With his bizarre, thought-provoking artwork that combines pop culture with post-apocalyptic terror, Beeple’s NFTs provide a political/social commentary with an interesting yet sinister tone.
In this piece, Crossroad shows an image of a naked Donald Trump lying in a field, adorned with various graffiti on his body as bystanders ignore his presence.
8 – Ringers #109 – $6.93M
Ringers #109 was sold for $6.9 million in October 2021, which is a record for the Art Blocks collection. Interestingly, NarcissusGLRY co-founder, AKIRA, claimed that they originally bought the NFT for $550 in March 2021, only to sell the NFT for a 2.2 million percent gain just seven months later. Not a bad investment, right? For those of you that are unaware, Art Blocks consists of over 99,000 Art Block NFTs, and since this record-breaking sale, the rest of the collection has received a considerable boost in popularity.
7 – Right-Click and Save As Guy – $7.09M
Here we have another piece of NFT art from Xcopy. Right Click and Save As Guy was sold for $7.09 million on December 10 to a buyer named Comozo de Medici (which is actually one of Snoop Dogg’s aliases). This NFT, which is another GIF, is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek parody of those who double the NFT space and claim that an NFT can simply be right-clicked and downloaded to attain “ownership.”
6 – CryptoPunk #7804 – $7.57 million
The next three entries on our list belong to the CryptoPunk collection, which is by far one of the most widely known NFT projects in the world. Launched in June 2017 by the Larva Labs studio, CryptoPunks features the artwork of 10,000 unique collectible characters, all of which were minted as NFTs. The CryptoPunk collection was one of the first and most notable examples of NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.
As for the artwork themselves, each of the CryptoPunks NFTs are 24×24, 8-bit-style pixel art images, 6,039 of them are male, and 3,840 female. Each of them has unique traits, such as various accessories, hairstyles, and facial features. CryptoPunk #7804 is currently the third most expensive NFT from this collection. It features a punk with black sunglasses, a black hat, and a Sherlock Holmes-style smoking pipe. It was sold for $7.57 million to Figma CEO Dylan Field.
5 – CryptoPunk #3100 — $7.58M
CryptoPunk #3100 is the second most expensive sale in the collection, fetching $7.58 million in March 2021. This NFT art features a blue punk wearing a blue and white headband, and it is one of the nine Alien punks.
4 – CryptoPunk #7523 – $11.75M
CryptoPunk #7523 is currently the highest valued NFT of the entire collection, after being sold for $11.75 million in June 2021. Another member of the rare Alien collection, #7523, is shown to be wearing a knitted cap and earrings and is also the only Alien character that wears a medical mask, earning it the nickname “Covid Alien.”
3 – Human One – $29.98M
Beeple finds himself back on the list with his hugely popular Human One NFT that managed to fetch a whopping $29.9 million on December 9, 2021, from Ryan Zurrer. Interestingly, Human One is both a real and digital sculpture that is meant to depict the “first portrait of a human born in the metaverse,” according to Beeple.
This hybrid digital and physical artwork features a futuristic human-like sculpture, which is seven feet tall and is shown to be walking across various changing environments. Beeple has said that he will have remote access and creative control over the artwork as he intends to update and pierce continually over the course of his life.
2 – The First 5000 Days – $69.3 million
The penultimate entry on our list also belongs to Beeple and was sold for $69.3 million on February 21, 2021. The First 5000 Days is another hugely important piece of artwork in the NFT space as it paved the way for mainstream audiences to explore these unique digital assets. This is because The First 500 Days was the first entirely digital artwork to be sold by a major auction house (Christie’s). The artwork is a collage of 5,000 unique images that Beeple made over a thirteen-year period, creating one image every day between 2007 and 2020.
1 – The Merge – $91.8 million
The Merge, created by renowned anonymous artist Pak, is the most expensive NFT artwork ever sold after it was purchased for a staggering $91.8 million on December 4, 2021. However, it is important to note that The Merge was broken down into 312,686 pieces and sold to 28,983 buyers. These smaller pieces, otherwise known as a “mass,” were originally auctioned out at $575 and increased by $25 every six hours.
CryptoPunk#5822 – $23.6 million
CEO of Chain.com, Deepak Thapliyal purchased CryptoPunk#5822 for 8,000 ETH. At the time of the sale, this equated to $23.6 million, which earns this NFT art the accolade of being the fourth most expensive sale of all time (so far). Of course, this now means that CryptoPunk#5822 is the most expensive NFT in the entire CryptoPunk collection.
Clock – $52.7 million
Clock is another NFT designed by Pak, the same artist that created “The Merge,” the most valuable NFT ever sold. The project was conceptualized by AssangeDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) campaigning for the release of Julian Assange, the Australian activist who founded Wikileaks in 2006. The dynamic NFT displays the total number of days since Julian Assange was imprisoned.
AssangeDAO raised a total of 17,422 ETH to purchase the NFT, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Wau Holland Foundation, which supports Julian Assange’s defense. The DAO, which is made up of 10,000 Assange supporters, claims that their mission is to liberate Assange “at whatever cost,” and they are certainly putting their money where their mouth is.
With the NFT space still in its infancy, the top ten rankings are unlikely to remain as it is for long. At the time of writing, many of these NFTs are listed on the secondary market once again (albeit at a higher price), implying that these digital artworks could be resold at a higher value in the future. Furthermore, as more money flows through this new and fascinating industry, more artists are likely to hop on board since it provides them with a unique opportunity to sell their creations to a highly speculative audience of investors.
The most expensive NFTs sold are listed in this article. One noteworthy expensive sale is Beeple's "The First 5000 Days" digital artwork, which sold for $69 million.
The value of an NFT can be influenced by a number of factors, including the rarity and uniqueness of the digital asset, the popularity of the artist or creator, and the demand for similar NFTs in the market.