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The Ultimate Guide to CryptoPunks: Everything You Need to Know
When it comes to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), there are few collections as punk and iconic as CryptoPunks. Not only is it a piece of internet history, but it’s also an unspeakably valuable asset and an NFT that many aspiring collectors aim to own. The project, launched in June of 2017 by product studio Larva Labs and acquired by Yuga Labs in 2022, is sometimes called the progenitor of NFTs, as many of the large-scale NFT projects that came after it, like the Bored Ape Yacht Club, can be traced back to the CryptoPunk mold.
The CryptoPunks collection consists of 10,000 unique 24×24 pixel art images that predominantly depict humans, of which 6,039 are male and 3,840 are female. In addition to humans, there are several unique types that are considered rare and valuable, such as zombies (88), apes (24), and aliens (9). Each CryptoPunk can also exhibit a combination of 87 unique attributes known as “traits,” including hats, cigarettes, necklaces, earrings, eyepatches, and more. The maximum number of traits a CryptoPunk can have is seven, with only one CryptoPunk (#8348) having all seven traits.
CryptoPunks initially started out as an experiment in creating generative characters. The team behind the project, composed of Canadian software developers and Larva Labs founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson, didn’t initially set out to create a community; in fact, they didn’t even have a roadmap. Nevertheless, early supporters like top-tier NFT influencers Pranksy, 6529, and Seedphrase, were able to recognize the potential of digital ownership and the value of owning and claiming stuff on-chain.
Since its launch in 2017, CryptoPunks has evolved from a simple niche internet fad into one of the world’s most expansive and well-known NFT projects. Today, CryptoPunks are among the most expensive NFTs on the market. Alien CryptoPunk #3100, for instance, was sold for 8 ETH in 2017, which was around $2,000 at the time. However, in March 2021, that same Punk sold for an eye-popping 4,200 ETH ($7.58 million). While such high prices may seem ludicrous for a JPEG, CryptoPunks have come to be seen as not only a potentially lucrative investment but also as a status symbol.
Owners of CryptoPunks are viewed as visionaries who got in ahead of the curve and placed their bets on the importance of NFTs and the Ethereum blockchain itself. They are given presumptions of trust and social status, and many have created entire personas, projects, communities, and brands around a single CryptoPunk NFT.
However, the success of CryptoPunks hasn’t come without controversy. In February 2022, Larva Labs faced backlash when Watkinson sold off his stock of V1 Punks, a move that many in the NFT community viewed as a betrayal.
In conclusion, owning a CryptoPunk is more than just owning a piece of art; it’s owning a piece of internet history, a status symbol, and potentially a very valuable asset. The historical significance of CryptoPunks and how it grew and developed alongside the Ethereum blockchain have contributed to its current value and status. Whether you’re a collector or a crypto enthusiast, CryptoPunks is undoubtedly one of the most important NFT collections in existence.