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Sotheby’s Auctions off CryptoPunk #7523 for $11.7M

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • Sothebys Auction house is selling an NFT collection called 'Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale'
  • The collection features CryptoPunk 7523, considered the first NFT on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • The starting bid for the piece known as "Covid Alien" start at $1.5 million.
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While the buzz surrounding the NFT craze skyrocketed in 2021, all great trends have to start somewhere. Today, Sotheby’s Auction House sold a CryptoPunk NFT for a world record $11.75 million

CryptoPunk 7523, also known as “Covid Alien,” is part of an auction entitled Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale. The collection will contain 27 unique digital artists and mark the first time one of the major auction houses features a sale comprised of just NFT artists. The CryptoPunk NFT will be the highlight of the auction. 

CryptoPunks are digital character artworks generated on the Ethereum blockchain and were originally given away free to anyone with an ETH wallet. The 24×24 pixel 8-bit-style pieces launched back in 2017 and, according to the studio that launched them, are the first NFTs on Ethereum. When launched on Ethereum, the CryptoPunk line became the first NFT on the network and inspired the ERC-721 standard that has been used broadly for digital art and collectibles.

There are a total of 10,000 CryptoPunks and are meant to represent the crypto-anarchist philosophy. The collection is made up of 

As far as CryptoPunks go, #7523 is particularly desirable and considered one of the rarest of the “punk type” set.  It is one of just nine Alien CryptoPunk and is the only example that has the subject wearing a mask. Of the remaining 9,991 Punks, 24 are apes, 88 are zombies, 3840 are female and 6,039 are male.

Each Punk differs from the next by presenting different identities, attributes, and rarities. Every one of the 10,000 punks has anywhere from zero to eight distinctive characteristics.

The exception is the ‘Genisis Punks’, a group of eight that have no attributes at all. Meanwhile, Punk #8348 is the only one to rock a full set of all eight types of features, including a cigarette, top had, and beauty mark. 

NFTs helped galleries stay open during the pandemic

The rise of NFTs this year has a number of reasonable explanations. Perhaps one of the more surprising is areas to help digital art along has been major auction houses and galleries. As the art world was forced to close its doors to buyers and admirers due to the Covid-19 outbreak, buyers needed to seek alternatives to fill the dead space on their walls. Sotheby’s curator of digital art, Robert Alice, had this to say about the idea

“The growth in the NFT ecosystem and its rapid ascension to the global cultural stage must in some part be attributed to the closing of our physical world during COVID-19. As galleries closed their doors to their communities, NFTs as a digital medium and the concept of the metaverse started to resonate with collectors globally as they looked for new cultural experiences. As the physical world closed down, the digital sphere opened up.”

While this NFT sale is the first digital collection of its kind to be auctioned off by a major house, Sotheby’s is no stranger to the trendy digital art surge. Already in 2021, it became the first house to add cryptocurrencies to their accepted forms of payment for both digital and physical artworks. 

According to Twitter, the final winner of the NFT CryptoPunk is said to be shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of sports-betting outfit DraftKings.

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Matthew De Saro
Matthew De Saro is a journalist and media personality specializing in sports, gambling, and statistics. Before joining BeInCrypto, his work was featured on Fansided, Forbes, and OutKick. With a background in statistical analysis and a love of writing, he takes an outside-the-box approach to reporting news.