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What are CryptoPunks? The Complete Guide

14 mins
Updated by Ryan Glenn
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CryptoPunks is one of the earliest and largest NFT projects. Some call it a primitive NFT collection that was a pleasant accident. But that doesn’t take away the fact that it set the ball rolling for the digital art revolution; it has also set an incredible standard for the collectible industry.

Here is everything you need to know about CryptoPunks. You’ll learn about their characteristics, how to buy them, and their general history.

What are crypto collectibles and non-fungible assets?


History tells us that humans have always depended on materials to define their identity and personality. The unique artifacts dug out from early civilization cities prove that. We crave attention. We desire to stand out. The latest trend to cash in on this bizarre human nature is crypto collectibles — unique digital assets stored on a blockchain.

They are characterized by rarity and non-fungibility. While cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are scarce, they can be exchanged for one another. For example, you bought one bitcoin from your friend and spent it on something. The next week, you bought one bitcoin from an exchange and forwarded it to your friend. This is how currencies work. They are identical and stand in for each other.

On the other hand, crypto collectibles are rare. And mostly non-fungible tokens. They are limited in quantity, which explains the massive rise in the NFT market cap over the past few months. Even if two NFTs look alike, their unique identity can be authenticated by blockchain. They hold distinct values.

Why do they have any worth?

Digital scarcity is remarkable. A digital file, once made on software, can be easily replicated. The digital art may have taken days to create. However, it can breed thousands of replicas in a matter of a few seconds. Each of which roams across the Internet, lives on multiple digital devices, and breeds more replicas. No matter how much fame the work amassed, the artist ends up making very little money.

Blockchain technology overhauled the collectible industry. NFTs are all the rage now. The most relevant example being CryptoPunks, the unabashed misfits that ignited the NFT movement.

What are CryptoPunks?


If you have heard about NFTs, chances are, you have heard about CryptoPunks too. They sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars today.

To put it simply, CryptoPunks are 10,000 unique collectible characters stored on the Ethereum blockchain with proof of ownership. That is, they are 24×24 pixel fun little pop art portraits of punky guys and girls generated algorithmically and tokenized.

The legendary history of CryptoPunks

When Matt Hall and John Watkinson came up with a software program that could spawn thousands of odd digital characters, they didn’t know it was going to change their world or the world. Each of these had randomly generated distinct traits which added to their eccentricity and defined their personality. They were initially to be used for a smartphone game or an app. But let’s face it, they were too interesting for that.

Matt and John explored how CryptoPunks could find a place in the digital art market. They eventually realized that the best way forward was through blockchain technology, which had by then made a breakthrough in digital ownership. According to them, CryptoPunks are almost an ERC-20 token.

Larva Labs, their software company based in New York, launched CryptoPunks on 23 June 2017. It is possibly the first work of art that comes with a self-contained mechanism for recording and transferring its ownership.

Fun fact

There are 10,000 Punks in total. And they were all claimed for FREE during the launch. Fast-forward to June 2021, an Alien Punk that carries gold earrings, a red knitted cap, and a medical face mask was sold for a whopping $11.7 million!

How much have CryptoPunks sold for?

CryptoPunks price

In the months after launching, the Punk economy was confined to a small community of crypto enthusiasts. However, when the crypto market exploded, so did DeFi and NFTs. Many celebrities, influencers, VCs, angel investors, KOLs, poker stars, and business leaders joined the bandwagon, driving up the prices considerably.

Just a few days earlier, on August 28, CryptoPunks crossed the $1 billion mark in all-time sales. It is the second NFT project to achieve the feat. Axie Infinity bags first place with $1.65 billion.

CryptoPunks may not be the first NFT. It is also not the best, given that it has little value and utility outside the collectible market. However, it laid the foundation of the NFT market. It transformed how people owned and transferred digital assets. Moreover, it empowered artists to push the frontiers of their creativity and monetize it.

Different types of CryptoPunks NFT

Types of CryptoPunks

CryptoPunks are digital avatars. The development team owns the first 1000 Punks. These are called Dev Punks and are somewhat premium. From time to time, they are sold in the market for huge prices. The remaining 9000 are with random people across the world. Some of them, are now millionaires.

CryptoPunks belong to five categories fundamentally — female, male, alien, zombie, and ape.

Their values vary depending on the rarity and uniqueness of the characteristics and accessories. For example, there are only nine Alien Punks in total. They top the most expensive Punk list, bagging the first, second, and third places.

Ape Punks and Zombie Punks, with 24 and 88 members each, also have high-value points. Zombies are green, apes are hairy, and aliens are light-blue. There are 6,039 male Punks and 3,840 female Punks in total, which makes them comparatively less desirable inside the Punk market.

However, among human Punks, the most sought-after are female Punks. In fact, CryptoPunk 8888 is the only human Punk on the top 10 list. With the spunky combination of a red mohawk and a black eye mask, her NFT sold for 888 ETH, or $2.87 million, in August.

Some common CryptoPunks attributes

CryptoPunks attributes

A Punk can have up to seven attributes.

That may be misleading, given that only one Punk has seven attributesnumber 8348. A buck-toothed Punk with a big beard, a mole, and a cigarette. It wears classic shades, earrings, and a top hat. Consequently, it is also one of the most desired on the list.

CryptoPunks are valued by the number of unique attributes they possess. But there are eight Punks with no attributes at all. They are referred to as Genesis Punks. Their rarity drives up the price, not attributes. In fact, Punk number 6487, with no attributes at all, was sold for $1.05M!

As you may have guessed, some traits are exclusive to each category of Punks. There are also attributes you will find in both genders. While beanies and hoods are just for men, red mohawk and orange sides are for women.

Little known facts

Only one person can own a CryptoPunk at a time

Although anybody is free to look up the details of each Punk, just one person can own it at any given time. The transfer and proof of ownership are recorded on the Ethereum blockchain and, thus, transparent and immutable. The smart contracts are publicly accessible. If there is any confusion regarding the ownership, it can be tracked down to the earliest buyer.

The rarity of Punks vary

CryptoPunks was created drawing inspiration from popular culture archetypes. Hall and Watkinson designed it in such a way that the attributes vary. They ran the software multiple times, scanned through the hundreds of thousands of results, evaluated how it would perform, and made tweaks to the design.

To make the theme more interesting, they introduced non-human categories like zombies, apes, and aliens to the list. They have the most fans today. Much like humans, non-human Punks have accessories too.

London punk scene inspired the creators

Many see the decentralized vision of blockchain technology as revolutionary. When Hall and Watkinson set out on the project, they wanted their product to reflect the non-conformist spirit of the Web 3.0 movement.

Punk music, which evolved over the second half of the 20th century, earned a huge fan base owing to its unabashed eccentricity. In 1970, the London Punk Movement shook the entertainment industry. Their attire, looks, and accessories have greatly gone into the design of CryptoPunks. Along with that, the movie Blade Runner and William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer sparked their creativity, the founders say.

CryptoPunk counts and traits are now immutable

As soon as they tokenized the generative art on the Ethereum blockchain, it became unchangeable. The number of Punks, their characteristics, and their accessories are set in stone. Even if the development team wishes to change something about the series, they won’t be able to; thanks to the immutable nature of smart contracts.

Wrapped CryptoPunks

When we say NFT, we immediately assume it is ERC-721. However, that was not out until 2018. In the short history of NFTs, we can very well say CryptoPunks belonged to the ancient era. CryptoPunks doesn’t comply with the ERC-721 standard, the popular Ethereum standard for NFTs.

Despite being one of the most iconic NFT projects, the trading of CryptoPunks was limited to the project’s official website until Wrapped CryptoPunks came into being. Wrapping essentially turns non-standard NFTs into ERC-721 tokens. It makes CryptoPunks compatible with popular marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible.

Wrapped CryptoPunks unleashed their full potential. They became more popular than ever, breaking records in the NFT market. The trading volume and market cap of the project is now even comparable to top cryptocurrencies.

While the wrapping process may be a little too complex to grasp, it is easy to do. To make things simpler, the dedicated sites offer specific contracts and wallet support. Once you have sent your Punk to a wrapped contract, it stays in escrow. When the wrapping process completes, the token is converted to ERC-721 standard. Now, you can list it on popular exchanges for sale or exchange.

The best part is, there is always the option to unwrap. This releases the original Punk from the escrow.

CryptoPunk bounties

Lack of liquidity is a huge limitation in the crypto collectible industry.

The Bounties option introduced by Ark Gallery solves it to a great extent. It allows users to bid on any randomly selected Wrapped CryptoPunk backed by an ETH deposit. So, if you are not really concerned about which Punk you are getting, this comes in handy. If the buyer accepts your offer, it is yours. One of the greatest advantages is, it allows to set a floor price for the less unique Punks.

How do you buy a CryptoPunk?

Crypto Payment honduras ATM

You can either buy CryptoPunks from the Larva Labs official website or NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. We will give you a walk-through on both.

Buying CryptoPunks from the official website

Step 1: Get some ETH

As we discussed, CryptoPunks are built on the Ethereum blockchain and can only be bought and sold in ETH. If you don’t have any ETH in your wallet, you need to first convert your cash. This is assuming you already have an account on a crypto exchange like Coinbase or Binance. Here, you have to first move your fiat currency into their wallet and then wait to get it converted.

Now, you need to transfer it to a crypto wallet like MetaMask under your ownership. Here is a complete guide to setting up a MetaMask wallet on your device.

Storing your cryptocurrencies on a centralized exchange is against the spirit of decentralization if you think about it. There are multitudes of options for a crypto wallet. Do your research and choose the one that best works for you.

Step 2: Connect your wallet to Larva Labs

MetaMask available

Go to Larva Labs.

It will ask if you are sure about connecting to this particular website. If the URL is correct, you can go ahead and click yes. The website will now recognize that you have a digital wallet connected and are all set to make the purchase. More buttons for bidding, selling, and buying will pop up. The site allows you to buy directly from the interface.

Step 3: Check out the prices

CryptoPunks bid price

Larva Labs hosts the primary and secondary markets for CryptoPunks on its website. Once you connect your wallet, the site will show the list of all CryptoPunks currently up for sale in the secondary market.

Here you will find everything you need to know about each of them before making a wise purchase.

  • Wallet address that currently owns the Punk
  • Whether it has been listed for sale by the owner
  • Existing bids
  • Transaction History
  • Accessories
  • What makes it unique

The key general metrics include the following:

  • Current Lowest Price Punk Available
  • Number of Sales (Last 12 Months)
  • Total Value of All Sales (Lifetime)
  • Total value of Sales (24 Hours)
  • Value of Sales (Week)
  • Value of Sales (4 Weeks)

You will also find the list of all CryptoPunk owners, along with the attributes and counts of all Punks. Under Largest Sales, the top 12 Punks that rank the highest in terms of the selling price on Larva Labs are listed. There is more information to give you a good idea about the market.

Since the actual images of the Punks are too large to store on the blockchain, the contracts have the hash of the composite images. If you want to verify that the Punks on the Ethereum contract are actually True Official Genuine CryptoPunks™, you can do so by cross-checking the SHA256 hash on the CryptoPunks image with the hash in the contract. More technical details and the source of the contract are accessible on GitHub.

Step 4: Make the purchase

Buy CryptoPunks

Take some time going through the prices. They vary pretty unexpectedly. By the time you refresh the page, they may have gone up the roof or plummeted down. So, if you feel the listed price is fair, go for it. If you think it is a little too high, place a bid.

All Punks are not always available for purchase. It is entirely upon the sellers. However, you can persuade them into selling through exciting bids. If you have set your mind on a Punk, this is the way to go.

As soon as you click the Buy button, a new window pops up from MetaMask asking for review and confirmation. This is where you will find the much-anticipated gas fee — the amount that you pay as compensation for the computing energy required to process and validate transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. It varies from time to time depending on the network congestion.

In case it is too high for your budget, it’s better to come back later. There are apps that notify you of the gas fee fluctuations. If you are okay with the price, hit confirm. It may take a few minutes for the transaction confirmation.

Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a CryptoPunk and officially a part of the NFT revolution!

It is also worth noting that the trading of CryptoPunks is not dependent on Larva Labs or the official website. The website could crash tomorrow, or get stolen, or banned. But that won’t change anything about your ownership or the transfer of it. The website helps you connect to the chain, that’s all.

Buying CryptoPunks from OpenSea

CryptoPunks on OpenSea

OpenSea is the world’s largest NFT marketplace. A peer-to-peer platform where you can discover, collect, bid, and sell extraordinary NFTs. This could be rare digital items, pieces of art, or gaming collectibles secured by blockchain. It crossed $3.4B in transaction volume in August and has over 2 million different NFTs listed for sale.

Buying CryptoPunks from OpenSea is not much different from the earlier. For example, you need to convert your fiat currency into ETH. You need to connect your crypto wallet to the site; in this case, OpenSea. And finally, make the payment from MetaMask.

However, a few steps vary.

Let’s see how.

Step 1: Make an OpenSea account

As with Larva Labs, you need to connect a web3 enabled Ethereum wallet to your device before you can sign up on OpenSea. Most popular crypto wallets are compatible with the platform including Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, Dapper, and Fortmatic.

This way, your assets remain in your wallet until you proceed with the purchase. OpenSea doesn’t store your cryptocurrencies or the NFTs you bought with that. Your wallet does. Until you sell them, they are in your safe custody. But they are only accessible online. This is where hardware wallets come in handy. They store your cryptocurrency and NFTs offline. Given the skyrocketing prices of NFTs and the huge demand in the market, hardware wallets offer one of the most secure ways to keep digital collectibles.

Step 2: Check out the prices

You will find all details and stats about the Punks on the website. For more clarity, you can also visit Larva Labs.

Step 3: Go for it

Now that you have made up your mind about the Punk you want to buy, it is time to do the actual purchase. For this, you need money. Add ETH to your MetaMask account from a crypto exchange.

You can either buy a Punk for the listed price or place a bid. Once both parties agree to the price, you can go ahead with the payment as you’d do on Larva Labs.

The real game-changers

Many industries, companies, and influencers have been endorsing CryptoPunks. The amateur blockchain collectible is not just drawing attention to NFTs, but also the crypto industry as a whole. UTA is the latest to join the CryptoPunk craze.

According to Hollywood Reporter, UTA will represent CryptoPunks, along with other projects from Larva Labs for film, TV, video games, and publishing projects. This will be the first-of-its-kind initiative to bring NFT projects to traditional media.

Visa recently claimed a CryptoPunk for nearly $150,000 in ethereum.

Cuy Sheffield
Cuy Sheffield
Vice President, Head of Crypto – Visa

“We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce. With our CryptoPunk purchase, we’re jumping in feet first. This is just the beginning of our work in this space,”

CryptoPunks opened our eyes to the true potential of blockchain technology in the collectible industry. It paved the way for ERC-721 tokens and the diverse NFT projects in the limelight today.

We can’t say for sure if the craze is here to stay or take a turn uphill (or downhill). One thing we do know is that the legendary example set by CryptoPunks is here to stay and inspire.

Frequently asked questions

Why are CryptoPunks so expensive?

How much does a CryptoPunk cost?

Where to buy CryptoPunks?

How much is the cheapest CryptoPunk?

Can I buy a CryptoPunk?

Can you unwrap a CryptoPunk?

How do CryptoPunks work?

Top crypto projects in the US | May 2024



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Rahul Nambiampurath
Rahul Nambiampurath's cryptocurrency journey first began in 2014 when he stumbled upon Satoshi's Bitcoin whitepaper. With a bachelor's degree in Commerce and an MBA in Finance from Sikkim Manipal University, he was among the few that first recognized the sheer untapped potential of decentralized technologies. Since then, he has helped DeFi platforms like Balancer and Sidus Heroes — a web3 metaverse — as well as CEXs like Bitso (Mexico's biggest) and Overbit to reach new heights with his...