Top NFTs: 10 Most Expensive NFTs & What Makes Them Special?

Updated on Feb 15th, 2024
21 Mins Read
Top NFTs: 10 Most Expensive NFTs & What Makes Them Special?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have exploded onto the digital art scene, transforming the way we think about ownership, value, and creativity in the digital realm. Over the past few years, NFTs have evolved from a niche concept to a cultural and economic phenomenon that has captivated artists, collectors, and investors alike.

In this blog, we will explore some of the most iconic and groundbreaking NFT artworks that have made headlines and pushed the boundaries of the medium. Through a deep dive into these high-profile pieces, we will uncover the significance of NFTs and their impact on art history and culture.

We will analyze landmark works like Beeple's record-shattering "Everydays" collage and Pak's philosophically provocative "Merge" to understand why they resonated so strongly. In reviewing their astronomical sales prices, we will discuss how NFTs are redefining our conceptions of worth and ownership in digital spaces.

Beyond the multi-million dollar price tags, we will examine how these NFT artworks represent new forms of creative expression and experience that are native to blockchain technology and decentralized systems. We will explore the interplay between digital art and activism, as seen in pieces like Pak's "Clock."

By spotlighting these pivotal NFT art moments, we will make sense of a paradigm shift taking place in technology, culture, and the art world. Join us as we trace the evolution of a movement that continues to challenge the status quo of our digital lives.

10. CryptoPunk #3100 - $7.58 million

CryptoPunk #3100 with Alien and Headband features

CryptoPunks, created by Larva Labs, are considered pioneers in the NFT space, having been launched in 2017. They are 24x24 pixel art images, algorithmically generated, and each one is unique.

The collection consists of 10,000 punks, with "Aliens," "Zombies," and "Apes" being the rarest types. On top of them, each punk has its own set of attributes, such as hairstyles, glasses, and hats, which contribute to its rarity and value.

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In March 2021, one such CryptoPunk, CryptoPunk #3100, sold for $7.58 million, thereby shattering records and introducing the world to the enormity of the NFT movement. This single sale of a pixel image crystallized the meteoric rise of blockchain-backed digital artworks.

Beyond the eye-popping price tag, what does this transaction tell us about the state of the art and technology today? #3100's exorbitant worth stems from its triple rare status - it's one of nine "Aliens" within the coveted CryptoPunks series of 10,000 NFTs and sports a stylish headband.

The sale was a turning point in how we value art in the digital age. Scarcity, authenticity, and cultural cachet have been engineered for a virtual medium, shaking up traditional art market dynamics. An unprecedented digital art ecosystem has emerged, where algorithmically spawned characters rival Old Master paintings.

9. CryptoPunk #5577 - $7.7 million

CryptoPunk #5577 with Ape and Cowboy Hat features

The sale of CryptoPunk #5577 for $7.7 million in February 2022 was another signal of NFTs' escalating takeover of the mainstream. The purchaser, Robert Leshner, founder of Compound Finance, is emblematic of the fusion between crypto finance and digital collecting.

His acquisition of this NFT punk for over 2,500 ETH drives home how cryptocurrency whales have infiltrated the NFT arena. After all, the NFT market runs on flaunting culture, and #5577 delivers on this front.

Also Read: CryptoKitties Case Study: Key lessons for blockchain development

On the surface, the seven-figure price tag is staggering. But Leshner's move was strategic, not impulsive. #5577 is one of 24 Apes within the original CryptoPunks set - blue-chip NFTs setting the bull market pace. Its accessorized brown hat and imposing Ape feature distinguish it from the masses of pixelated punks.

The sale cements that cryptocurrency moguls now covet rare NFTs for their twin powers of signaling status and reaping returns.

As NFTs enjoy increasingly mainstream appeal, lesser-known collectors may be priced out of premier punks like #5577. Yet for now, the sale christens the merger between crypto's new rich and the burgeoning world of NFT art. #5577's multi-million dollar price tag stakes the flag of crypto's growing empire.

8. CryptoPunk #4156 - $10.26 million

CryptoPunk #4156 with Ape and Bandana features

CryptoPunk #4156 is another notable figure in the CryptoPunks collection. This punk is also a part of the "Ape" variety, one of the most rare and sought-after traits within the collection.

What makes #4156 stand out, aside from its Ape characteristic, is its accessory: a blue bandana. Surprisingly, the blue bandana is not as uncommon as the cowboy hat.

Yet, in December 2021, CryptoPunk #4156 was sold for $10.26 million, marking one of the highest sales within the CryptoPunks series and underscoring the significant value attributed to these digital assets.

The sale of CryptoPunk #4156 illustrates the competitive and highly speculative nature of the NFT market, and the fact that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder at the end of the day.

7. TPunk #3442 - $10.5 million

TPunk #3442 as Joker

TPunk #3442, often referred to as "The Joker" TPunk, stands out as one of the most notable pieces in the TPunks collection, which itself is a tribute to the original CryptoPunks by Larva Labs but created on the Tron blockchain.

This particular TPunk is distinguished by its resemblance to the iconic Batman villain, The Joker, featuring characteristic green hair and a wide, menacing smile that unmistakably links it to the character's familiar visage.

The sale of TPunk #3442 for $10.5 million to Justin Sun, the founder of the Tron blockchain, marked a significant moment in the NFT space, highlighting the expanding interest and investment in digital collectibles beyond the Ethereum network, where most high-profile NFT transactions have traditionally taken place.

This sale not only underscores the global and cross-cultural appeal of NFTs but also the versatility of blockchain technology in supporting the arts and digital collectibles market.

However, the fact that the NFT was purchased by the founder of Tron, the blockchain on which the TPunk project is built, makes it look more like a sentimental purchase rather than one backed by fundamentals.

Still, the TPunks collection, and #3442 in particular, showcases the growing diversification within the NFT ecosystem, as artists and creators explore various themes, characters, and blockchain platforms to mint their digital artworks.

6. CryptoPunk #7523 - $11.75 million

CryptoPunk #7523 with a medical mask, earring, and knitted cap

CryptoPunk #7523, also known as "COVID Alien," is one of the most recognizable and valuable pieces in the CryptoPunk series created by Larva Labs.

This particular NFT is notable for its distinctive characteristics: it is one of the rare "Alien" type CryptoPunks and features a medical mask, making it extremely relevant in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This combination of rarity and timely symbolism contributed to its high value in the NFT market.

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In June 2021, CryptoPunk #7523 was sold for $11.75 million at Sotheby’s during the "Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale" auction, setting a record at the time for the highest sale price of a single CryptoPunk NFT.

The sale of #7523, on top of market interest in rare digital collectibles, highlighted the cultural impact of NFTs in reflecting contemporary themes and events. The medical mask added a layer of social commentary to the piece, making it a powerful symbol of the era defined by the global pandemic.

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The purchase of CryptoPunk #7523, particularly for such a significant sum, illustrates the maturation of the NFT market and the willingness of collectors and investors to spend considerable amounts on digital art and collectibles that resonate on a cultural level.

It also showcases the role of traditional auction houses like Sotheby's in bridging the gap between digital and conventional art markets, further legitimizing NFTs as a valuable form of artistic expression and investment.

5. CryptoPunk #5822 - $23.7 million

CryptoPunk #5822 as an alien punk wearing a bandana

The last CryptoPunk in the list, CryptoPunk #5822 is one of the most iconic and valuable NFTs within the CryptoPunks collection.

This particular Punk is also a part of the "Alien Punks" and dons a blue bandana, adding to its rarity and desirability among collectors. It was sold for $23.7 million (8,000 ETH) in February 2022, marking it as one of the highest sales in the NFT space.

The sale was notable not only for its high price but also because it was purchased by Deepak Thapliyal, CEO of Chain. This sale underscores the significant investment and interest in NFTs, particularly those of high rarity and cultural significance within the crypto community.

CryptoPunks, and #5822 in particular, have played a pivotal role in the evolution of the NFT ecosystem, demonstrating how digital assets can achieve substantial economic value and cultural status.

The sale of CryptoPunk #5822 is a landmark event in the NFT space, highlighting the growing acceptance of NFTs as a legitimate and valuable form of digital art and collectible.

4. Beeple’s “HUMAN ONE” - $28.9 million

Beeple's "HUMAN ONE" is a hybrid of physical and digital artwork that represents a significant milestone in the realm of NFT and digital art. Sold for $28.9 million in November 2021, "HUMAN ONE" combines a kinetic video sculpture with corresponding dynamic NFTs, showcasing Beeple's innovative approach to art.

The artwork itself consists of a rotating column equipped with LED screens on all four sides, displaying a continuous, evolving video of a human figure walking through different environments.

These digital landscapes change over time, reflecting Beeple's ongoing engagement with the piece. This aspect of "HUMAN ONE" is particularly noteworthy as it introduces the concept of a living artwork that can evolve post-purchase, challenging traditional notions of art as a static object.

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Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, has been a pioneering figure in the digital art space, and "HUMAN ONE" further cements his reputation as an innovator.

The piece not only explores themes of identity, technology, and the future of humanity but also raises questions about the ownership and transformation of digital art over time. Beeple has stated that he will continue to update the imagery displayed on "HUMAN ONE," making the artwork a lifetime collaboration between the artist and the collector.

The sale of "HUMAN ONE" highlights the potential for new types of art that leverage technology to create immersive, interactive experiences that challenge viewers' perceptions and engage with broader societal themes.

"HUMAN ONE" exemplifies the potential of NFTs to go beyond digital images or videos to include physical components, broadening the scope of what can be considered digital art. It stands as a testament to the rapidly evolving landscape of art in the digital age, where boundaries between the physical and virtual are increasingly blurred, and artists are empowered to explore new territories of creative expression.

3. “Clock” by Pak - $52.7 million

 NFT displaying “One Thousand Six Hundred Twenty One” - days Assange has spent imprisoned so far

"Clock" by Pak is a unique and thought-provoking piece of digital art that stands out not only for its conceptual depth but also for its role in advocacy and fundraising.

Sold for $52.7 million, this NFT is more than just a digital asset; it's a symbol of protest and a tool for legal defense fundraising. The piece features a simple but powerful concept: a digital clock that counts the number of days WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been imprisoned.

This piece is part of a broader movement within the digital art space that leverages the blockchain's capabilities to make statements on societal issues while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of what is considered valuable art.

The work's sale was not merely a transaction but also a fundraising effort to support Assange's legal defense, emphasizing the potential for NFTs to be used for philanthropic and activist causes.

The significance of "Clock" extends beyond its conceptual underpinnings to highlight the role of digital and NFT art in mobilizing support for political causes. By purchasing "Clock," collectors contribute to a fund dedicated to legal efforts for Assange, making the artwork a collective statement on freedom of speech and the right to information.

Pak, the anonymous artist behind "Clock," is known for exploring themes of value, identity, and the digital condition. "Clock" aligns with Pak's broader artistic inquiry into the essence of digital existence and the intersections between technology, art, and activism.

Through this piece, Pak invites the audience to reflect on the passage of time, the value of freedom, and the power of collective action in the digital age.

The sale of "Clock" through Nifty Gateway underscores the growing acceptance and interest in NFTs as vehicles for complex expressions of art and activism.

It showcases how digital art can transcend aesthetic appeal to engage with pressing global issues, fostering a community of collectors who are invested not only in art for art's sake but also in its potential to effect change.

In summary, "Clock" by Pak stands as a landmark NFT project that merges art, technology, and activism, highlighting the evolving landscape of digital art and its capacity to engage with and impact the broader social and political discourse.

2. Beeple's "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" - $69.3 million

“Everydays: The First 5000 Days”, a collage of Beeple’s 5000 days of daily art creation

Beeple's "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" represents a monumental digital artwork that achieved a significant milestone in the NFT and digital art realms. This massive digital collage consists of 5,000 distinct images crafted daily by artist Beeple over nearly 14 years, from May 2007 to January 2021.

The work was auctioned at the prestigious Christie's for $69.3 million in March 2021, setting a record price for an NFT artwork at the time and cementing Beeple as one of the most valuable living artists.

The ambitious "Everydays" project began in May 2007, motivated by Beeple's desire to refine his artistic skills through disciplined daily creation. This intense dedication resulted in a diverse collection of images reflecting an array of styles, themes, and subjects that chronicle Beeple's evolution as an artist alongside changes in society and culture over 14 years.

While the astronomical sale price was historic and shot Beeple to fame, "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" derives deeper significance as an artistic feat that bolstered the legitimacy and perception of digital art and NFTs.

The Christie's auction represented a watershed moment, bridging traditional art world acceptance with cutting-edge technology on a global stage.

The artwork encapsulates the zeitgeist of the digital age while spotlighting the potential of NFTs to transform digital art into certified and tradeable creative works. Beyond making history with its sale, "Everydays" continues to inspire artists, galvanize collectors, and shape appreciation of digital art's limitless creative possibilities.

1. Pak’s “The Merge” - $91.8 million

Pak’s “The Merge” as a giant blob of mass

Pak's "The Merge" is an NFT project that significantly impacted the digital art world and NFT marketplace. It's notable for being the most expensive NFT ever sold, fetching a staggering $91.8 million.

As an open-edition NFT, this sale was not to a single collector but was acquired collectively by almost 30,000 collectors in December 2021.

"The Merge" is unique for several reasons beyond its sale price. It was sold as a mass-participation piece, meaning that multiple buyers could contribute to the purchase, each receiving a portion of the artwork in the form of "mass" tokens.

This approach democratized the ownership of the piece, allowing a broader audience to participate in what became a historic sale in the NFT space.

The artwork itself is conceptual and abstract, reflective of Pak's style, which often challenges traditional notions of art and ownership.

Pak is known for exploring themes of value, digital scarcity, and the concept of identity within the digital realm. "The Merge" further pushes these boundaries by questioning and exploring the nature of collective ownership and the value assigned to digital art.

The sale of "The Merge" was conducted on Nifty Gateway and marked a significant moment for the NFT community, signaling a shift towards more inclusive and collective forms of digital art ownership.

It not only set a record for the highest sales but also showcased the potential for NFTs to create new types of art experiences that are unique to the digital age.

Pak's work, including "The Merge," continues to influence the digital art and NFT markets, challenging both creators and collectors to rethink the value and meaning of art in a digital context.

To Wrap It Up



Sale Price


Pak's "The Merge"

$91.8 million


Beeple’s "Everydays: The First 5000 Days"

$69.3 million


"Clock" by Pak

$52.7 million


Beeple's "HUMAN ONE"

$28.9 million


CryptoPunk #5822

$23.7 million


CryptoPunk #7523

$11.75 million


TPunk #3442

$10.5 million


CryptoPunk #4156

$10.26 million


CryptoPunk #5577

$7.7 million


CryptoPunk #3100

$7.58 million

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What makes NFT art so valuable?

NFT art derives value from its scarcity, provenance, and demand. The blockchain verifies its authenticity and singles it out as the "original", while culture drives desire for prestigious pieces.

2. How are NFT prices set?

NFT prices are not fixed; they fluctuate based on what buyers are willing to pay. Significant sales can increase an NFT's perceived value. Unique traits and prestige also inflate prices.

3. What is the most expensive NFT ever sold?

Currently, the record holder for an individual piece is Beeple's "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" NFT, which sold for $69.3 million in March 2021 through the auction house Christie's. For an open-edition piece, which is owned by multiple people, the record is held by The Merge by Pak.

4. Can anyone make and sell NFT art?

Yes! Anyone can mint NFT art and sell it through NFT marketplaces. Strategies like social marketing and community building help emerging artists gain traction.

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