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 artworks 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 artworks 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 artworks 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 5 most-expensive individual NFTs of all time—plus nine others you should know.
Here is the list of top 5 most expensive NFT artworks of 2023 starting from the most expensive one:
- The Merge – PAK’s NFT Artwork – Currently The Most Expensive NFT Which Is Sold For $91.8 Million
- The First 5000 Days: Second Most Expensive NFT Which Sold For US$ 69 Million
- PAK’s Clock NFT: Sold For US$ 52.74 Million
- Beeple “Human One NFT” Sold For US$ 28.9 million
- CryptoPunk NFT #7523 Sold For US$ 11.7 Million
- Beeple, Everydays—The First 5000 Days
- Beeple, Crossroads
- Kevin Abosch, Forever Rose
- Pak, Metarift
- Steve Aoki and Antoni Tudisco, hairy
$69 million, March 2021, Christie’s
Beeple, Everydays – The First 5000 Days NFT, 21,069 pixels x 21,069 pixels (316,939,910 bytes). Image courtesy the artist and 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.
$6.6 million, February 2021, Nifty Gateway
Beeple, Crossroads (2020). Courtesy of the artist.
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 million, February 2018, GIFTO
Kevin Abosch, Forever Rose (2018). At the time of its $1 million sale on Valentine’s Day in 2018, the piece was the world’s most expensive piece of NFT art. Courtesy of the artist
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.
$904,413.47, March 2021, MarkersPlace
Pak, Metarift. Courtesy of the artist.
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.
$888,888.88, March 2021, Nifty Gateway
Steve Aoki and Antoni Tudisco, hairy. Courtesy of the artist.
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.