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When it comes to NFTs, the coolest of them all are undoubtedly the CryptoPunks. Representing the misfits, CryptoPunks have been there since the very beginning of all NFT projects and owning a CryptoPunk NFT means being a part of internet history, but what exactly is this bunch of strange characters and why have they become one of the most expensive NFT collections in the world?

What are CryptoPunks?

Launched in 2017 by the Larva Labs Studio, CryptoPunks is a non fungible token collection found on the Ethereum blockchain.

As one of the oldest NFT projects and frequently credited as being the reasoning behind the NFT craze of 2021, CryptoPunks initially began as an experiment when Matt Hall and John Watkinson (founders of Larba Labs, now owned by Yuga Labs) had the idea of designing an app or game for smartphones. This project eventually resulted in a software program that would go on to generate thousands of different characters to be sold as crypto collectibles.

Inspired by the London punk movement of the 1970s, there are 10, 000 unique CryptoPunks to date - 6,039 males and 3, 840 females - each with their own individual characteristics, and no two punks are the same. 'They needed to be a collection of misfits and non-conformists,' say Hall and Watkinson. 'The London punk movement of the 1970s felt like the right aesthetic.'

CryptoPunks are randomly generated and come with a variety of different traits. They can have buck teeth, a mohawk, wear a beanie or even a top hat. The punks can also wear an earring, sunglasses and even rock a big beard.

The maximum number of traits a punk can have is seven, but there is only one of these in existence. Punks that have no distinctive features are known as genesis punks.

CryptoPunks aren't just limited to being male or female either - there are zombie punks, ape punks and even alien punks. These are much rarer than their human counterparts, and also come with accessories. Take the pipe smoking alien for example, which sold for an eye-watering $7.5 million in March, 2021. Which raises the question, how did something that started out as an experiment, go on to be worth so much money in the crypto community?

The Rise of CryptoPunks and Crypto Collectibles

Given that CryptoPunks art is worth so much money now, you will be shocked to hear that back in the early days they could be claimed for free by anybody who had an Ethereum wallet. Nowadays, the only way to obtain one of the punks, is via NFT marketplaces that are embedded on the blockchain. Through this NFT market, you can put buy or sell CryptoPunks, or even put a bid on.

Back in February of this year at a Sotheby's auction, a single lot consisting of 104 CryptoPunks with an estimated total value between $20 million - $30 million was withdrawn after the seller decided they didn't want to give up their collection, turning to Twitter and simply posting "nvm, decided to hodl". A Twitter user who goes by the name 0x650d.

CryptoPunks paved the way for digital artwork, having inspired NFT projects such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club - another collection which also consists of thousands of unique ape NFTs with a variety of individual characteristics.

As one of the oldest NFT projects and the first to appear on the blockchain, the current buzz around the NFT space and hype within the community probably wouldn't exist without these punks.

Listed Punks and the Different Coloured Backgrounds

If you are a prospective punk purchaser, then you need to know what the different coloured backgrounds mean!

A purple background shows that these NFTs have an active bid on them, a red background means that they are available for sale by their owner, and a blue background means that they are not currently for sale and there are no current active bids.

CryptoPunks are only available for purchase through the Larva Labs' website and you will need to log in with an Ethereum wallet - meaning that you can now buy, bid on and sell a CryptoPunk NFT.

Larva Labs tracks all of the listed punks in order of their price from low to high.

Are CryptoPunks a good investment?

Because they hold the title as being the first NFT collection to ever be created on the Ethereum blockchain, CryptoPunks are considered to be extremely valuable - and because there are only 10, 000 punks available, only few can own one. It's with this rarity that comes the hefty price tag. And if you're fortunate enough to afford the opportunity to purchase a punk, then you will be setting yourself back at an average sale price (over the last year) of 109.79 ETH, that's a cool $134,903.37 USD.

If an alien punk is what you're after, then it will cost you a whopping 8,000 ETH ($23.7 million USD) which is currently the largest NFT purchase in history, bought by Deepak Thapliyal, CEO of Chain.

CryptoPunks owners include the likes of Jay Z, Serena Williams and one of YouTube's content creators, Logan Paul.

Due to its significance in the NFT space, as well as being a widely known and popular image, the CryptoPunks could very well be a good investment for the future. However, due to CryptoPunks being collectibles of digital art, collectors should not expect any future use cases for their non-fungible tokens.

The Future of CryptoPunks

Since the Yuga Labs acquisition in March of this year, the world waits patiently to see what this new ownership means for CryptoPunks, and where it will take them in the future. At only a few years old, these punks have already made a huge impact on the NFT space and will without a doubt leave a legacy behind, since CryptoPunks as non fungible tokens is really where it all began.

What started out as a small project for Matt Hall and John Watkinson, has gone on to take the crypto community by storm. And what may seem like a temporary craze, the punks have always been around to wreak havoc - whether it's in the real world, or the metaverse. The misfits are here to stay.