The average price of a CryptoPunk has skyrocketed by 53% in the past week, from 34 ETH ($87,800) on July 24 to 52 ETH ($135,000) yesterday.
The sudden surge in popularity follows a buying spree that started on Friday and has continued throughout the weekend, with Sunday’s volume already at 8,520 ETH ($22 million) as of noon UTC.
The beacon was lit on Friday by motivational speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who bought a CryptoPunk for 1,600 Ethereum ($3.7 million). On the same day, a pseudonymous investor named 0x650d spent 2,700 ETH ($7 million) on 88 CryptoPunks. Then there was speculation, since retracted, that an institutional investor had gobbled up more than 100 of the expensive collectibles.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, prove ownership over a digital or physical asset. NFT sales exploded in February but the hype around them has since subsided.
CryptoPunks are the most valuable NFT project with a weekly volume of nearly $60 million. Each of the 10,000 avatars represents any of four species—including zombies and aliens—and has different facial features and headgears. Rare ones sell for millions of dollars.
According to data on NFT marketplace OpenSea, the number of sales increased from 21 on July 24 to 303 yesterday. Daily trading volume has risen by 1,342%, from 709 ETH ($1.8 million) to 16,000 ETH ($41.5 million) in the same period. Half of the 10 most expensive CryptoPunks traded hands over the past two days.
Daniel Armitage, a member of the NFT investment collective PleasrDAO, told Decrypt that the mini bull run for CryptoPunks was kicked off by major purchases by Vaynerchuk on Friday, then by anonymous addresses that picked up over 100 punks.
Vaynerchuk bought CryptoPunk #2140 for 1,600 Ethereum ($3.7 million). The CryptoPunk is one of 24 ape punks, wearing one of 419 knitted caps and one of 378 small shades.
Vaynerchuk told Decrypt he’s happy with his purchase: “I have a lot of empathy for people’s curiosity or cynicism or debate, but I have incredible confidence in this asset. And I’m sure people said the same about a Jackson Pollock painting at some point.”
But he was shortly out-NFTed later on Friday. 0x650d, an anonymous investor, spent around 2,970 ETH—or $7.6 million—on 88 CryptoPunks.
Not sure how they concluded this was 3AC. But looks like the error has been rectified.
ETH comes from a Gnosis multisig that was funded from an FTX withdrawal. Most of that went straight to punks. https://t.co/4Mtd7Gv0ks pic.twitter.com/FlYDvnQRJE
— Alex Svanevik ✨ (@ASvanevik) August 1, 2021
On-chain analytics shows that the 0x650d’s address withdrew 3,000 ETH from crypto exchange FTX using a Gnosis multisig, indicating that multiple people have access to the address. The holder used 99% of that money to buy CryptoPunks.
Singaporean crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3A), which was initially thought to be behind that mass purchase, also bought 10 CryptoPunks, including a zombie for $2 million.
apparently.. now I feel ripped off tbh
— Keyboard Monkey (@KeyboardMonkey3) July 31, 2021
Armitage said that investments into NFTs are picking back up following the spending spree. “We're simultaneously seeing a ton of buying of Artblocks, Autoglyphs, and other top tier projects,” he said.
But how long could all this continue? While some believe that buying a CryptoPunk is like buying the Mona Lisa two years after it was painted, others think it’s a bubble that’s about to burst.