Take a look at the 8-bit, pixelated face of a CryptoPunk NFT, and you’d be forgiven for looking the other way. While the range of faces is diverse – some with hats, eye patches, beards, and even cyborg features – the relative simplicity of CryptoPunks belies their value and promise, with some now worth millions of dollars.
If you’ve ever wondered what are CryptoPunks and want to know whether or not they’re a good investment, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ll break down exactly what CryptoPunks are, the different types and their rarity, and assess whether or not they are still worth investing in (spoiler: they are).
Read on to find discover all about CryptoPunks.`
First things first, let’s go over exactly what Cryptopunks are.
Measuring a tiny 24 pixels by 24 pixels, CryptoPunks are artistic renditions of eccentric characters, each completely unique, inspired by the London punk scene. The punks include men and women, as well as outlandish species like aliens, undead zombies, and apes.
Every CryptoPunk is created algorithmically, meaning a computer code randomly determines the features and accessories of the character known as ‘attributes.’ This creates a sense of scarcity, making sure some attributes are rarer than others.
There are 10,000 CryptoPunks in total, and each can only be owned by a single wallet linked to the Ethereum blockchain. The amount of CryptoPunks is locked-in, with the developers behind it committed to not introducing any more. This introduces yet more scarcity, and therefore value.
To keep track of all of the punks in the collection, each has a profile page where you can see their unique attributes. Here you can also check the NFT’s current value and any recent activity, such as open bids, offers, and sales.
CryptoPunks came about in 2017 after two coders, Matt Hall and John Watkinson, asked themselves whether computer code could provide a sense of ownership and value. Together they founded Larva Labs and created the algorithm that would generate the 10,000 CryptoPunks now in circulation.
While they originally planned on releasing the punks in the form of an app or game, they soon saw an opportunity to incorporate blockchain technology.
Leveraging the Ethereum network, Hall and Watkinson used the technology behind ERC-721 tokens. Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum’s own currency, ETH, ERC-721 tokens are non-fungible. This means the value of each can differ. Whereas a single Bitcoin is worth the same as any other, a single ERC-721 token’s value can differ wildly from another.
While CryptoPunk technology is primarily based on the ERC-721 token, it also shares some properties of the ERC-20 token. This means that each and every punk’s value can emerge naturally from the marketplace.
On launch, 9000 of the CryptoPunks were given away for free. With all the punks scooped up in a matter of minutes, the only way now to own one is to buy one off the marketplace.
The other 1000 were kept by the developers. CryptoPunks 1-1000 are therefore known as Dev Punks and fetch a premium on the marketplace when they show up.
Aside from the umbrella distinction between Dev Punks and the other 9000 available, there are 5 different types of CryptoPunk:
- Male (6039 available)
- Female (3840 available)
- Zombie (88 available)
- Ape (24 available)
- Alien (9 available)
As you can see, the most common type of CryptoPunk is Male, with Alien being the rarest. This is reflected in the prices that different punks fetch. While the eyepatched Male CryptoPunk #7984 last sold for a respectable 49.99 ETH ($123,073), Alien punk #3100 sold for an incredible 4,200 ETH ($7.58 million).
Influencing the value of a CryptoPunk token is also its attributes.
Apart from its type, all but 8 CryptoPunks have at least one attribute. Some attributes are rarer than others making them more sought after. For example, despite CryptoPunk #2964 being the most common type, Male, it last sold for 305 ETH ($660,121 ETH). This is because it has only one attribute, something relatively rare amongst CryptoPunks. Compounding its scarcity is that the attribute is a beanie, something only 44 punks have out of the 10,000 in circulation.
As seen in CryptoPunk #2964, while the kind of attribute is a significant factor in the value of a CryptoPunk, the number of attributes is also important.
Top hatted punk #8348, for example, is the only CryptoPunk that has the maximum amount of attributes, which is 7. This makes it one of the most scarce CryptoPunks on the market, expected to fetch many millions of dollars when it sells.
On the other end of the scale, the Female bald punk #6487 is known in the community for its complete lack of attributes, selling recently for over $1 million worth of ETH. Having 0 attributes makes a CryptoPunk scarce, with only 8 punks sharing that status.
Attributes can also be gender-specific. Beanies, for example, are exclusive to male CryptoPunks, whereas certain hairstyles such as the red mohawk are only found on Female types.
Over the past twelve months, more and more investors have become interested in CryptoPunks, and for good reason. Tracking the NFT scene’s rise, the value of the average CryptoPunk has skyrocketed. Digital assets are now a staple of many portfolios.
While CryptoPunks were initially given away for free in 2017, market activity has become frenzied. The value of these tokens is increasing by the day, with CryptoPunk holders in possession of a scarce, valuable asset.
The beanied Alien CryptoPunk #7523, for example, was claimed for free in June 2017. Later that year, a forward-thinking investor bought the very same token for 8 ETH ($1,646). Now, four years on, that punk just sold for over $11.75 million worth of ETH at Sotheby’s auction house.
While not all CryptoPunk’s will see such appreciation in value, the limited circulation of 10,000 means they will continue to be a truly scarce asset. These sorts of assets are essential to a diverse portfolio, hedging against inflation and allowing growth of wealth.
Perhaps the most significant reason to invest in CryptoPunks is that they will continue to be revered by NFT investors. With the NFT scene now booming, the world of digital art and assets is here to stay. Early crypto art projects like CryptoPunks will one day be looked upon as pioneering, with each token a piece of history.
CryptoPunks are also relatively liquid when compared to other NFTs and traditional art. The buying and selling of these tokens are heating up by the day. Whether you intend to hold out for the long term or sell when you feel the time is right, the Larva Labs marketplace, in addition to OpenSea, means there’s always plenty of interested bidders.
The value of CryptoPunks comes from the project coming first. While CryptoPunks may not have been the very first NFT project, it is certainly the first successful one, generating a lot of interest since the 2017 launch.
In that time, the entire NFT scene has grown around CryptoPunks, with the project at the very heart of the emerging market. While other NFT projects will come and go, CryptoPunks is an iconic and essential part of the digital asset world.
Obviously, the value of CryptoPunks derives from their scarcity, with only 10,000 available. Aside from the limited circulation, CryptoPunks represent the future of digital ownership. Investors see in CryptoPunks the same thing people saw in the early days of the internet. While splashing millions on a 24×24 pixel punk avatar may seem crazy to some, CryptoPunks are now scarcer and more valuable than gold.
Owning a CryptoPunk is not only a good investment financially, with their value appreciating all the time, but they’re a status symbol. Effectively a VIP pass, owning a CryptoPunk is like gaining access to an exclusive community that believes in the decentralized future.
Whether it’s a Male punk with some basic attributes or the rarest of Alien types, CryptoPunks offer a unique investment opportunity. With the market growing ever-bigger, getting hold of a CryptoPunk is a guarantee of a future payday.