In brief

  • Nine CryptoPunks NFTs auctioned at Christie’s fetched $16.9 million total.
  • CryptoPunks are among the oldest and most coveted NFTs.

A collection of nine rare CryptoPunks sold for $16.9 million during an auction at Christie’s in New York tonight.

The auction was the venerable house’s first big NFT sale since Beeple’s EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5,000 DAYS, the digital collage that went for a record $69 million in March.

NFTs or non-fungible tokens are blockchain-based digital assets that can represent ownership deeds to digital or physical assets, from art to digital trading cards to albums to video clips. And CryptoPunks are some of the oldest.

CryptoPunks are a historic series of 10,000 NFTs from a developer called LarvaLabs. The tokens are attached to tiny, pixelated portraits of randomly generated faces, each distinct from the others. Since their introduction in 2017, they’ve become some of the most prized digital collectibles in crypto—individual CryptoPunks have sold for upwards of $7 million. Among the 10 most expensive individual NFT sales ever, three were CryptoPunks.

Splashy auctions like tonight's tend to involve NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. Thanks in part to the recent frenzy around crypto art, the price of Ethereum's native token, ETH, has climbed to new all-time highs.

Christie’s was the first major auction house to get in on the NFT phenomenon when it sold a Bitcoin-themed physical artwork tied to an accompanying NFT last fall. Sotheby’s has since followed suit.

Later this week, Christie’s plans to auction an NFT from the model Emily Ratajkowski.