In brief

  • EtherRock, an early Ethereum-based NFT project from 2017 that depicts various-colored rocks, is now in hot demand.
  • Two of the 100 NFTs in the set sold for more than $100,000 worth of Ethereum each over the weekend, and the market floor is nearly as high.

Critics of NFTs call this year’s market boom a fad, or a short-lived bubble waiting to pop. Well, here’s a mash-up of a perceived fad with one of the best historical examples of a proven fad—and these NFT owners are making bank.

Minted on the Ethereum blockchain, EtherRock is a series of 100 NFT images of rocks. They’re all identical in design aside from color variances, and they’re inspired by the classic Pet Rock toy craze that blew up in late 1975. However, they’re not brand new, nor were they designed as a winking nod to this year’s NFT market craze: they were first launched in late 2017.

They weren’t popular at the time, however, and most of the NFTs remained unclaimed for years. But the overlooked early NFT project was recently rediscovered and caught steam over the last week, as Ethereum users minted the remaining rocks. Even investor, social media influencer, and NFT entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk tweeted about it while discussing the added value benefit of being an early NFT project.


Now secondary prices are shooting through the roof. Over the weekend, two Ether Rocks sold for more than $100,000 worth of Ethereum each, including EtherRock #21, which sold for 45 ETH (or $135,240) on Sunday. In addition to the confirmed sales over the $100,000 mark, the cheapest EtherRocks still currently on the market are now priced just below that level.

An NFT acts like a deed of ownership for a digital item, be it a video clip, digital painting, or a drawing of a rock. While some NFTs have additional, functional utility, such as interactive video game items, the EtherRocks do not. “These virtual rocks serve NO PURPOSE beyond being able to be [bought] and sold, and giving you a strong sense of pride in being an owner of 1 of the only 100 rocks in the game,” reads the official website.

One purported EtherRocks owner, who claimed to buy #74 in the collection for 15 ETH ($46,300) over the weekend, tweeted about why they think it will be “one of the best investments” they have made in the crypto space.

“As we get into an age of digital collectibles, being one of the earliest forms of the art and the first [to] do something gives them provenance that is valuable. There is also a nostalgia aspect, collectors will seek early pieces with historical significance,” wrote degenharambe. “Monetary value of art is all an illusion. The pet rocks present the perfect shock value, it’s so stupid that it’s perfect. Fate loves irony.”


The sudden rise in demand for EtherRocks comes during a late summer surge in the NFT market. The market produced $2.5 billion in transaction volume during the first half of 2021, but the hype around NFTs seemed to fade in late spring and early summer. Lately, however, transaction volumes are soaring and big-ticket sales have grabbed headlines again.

CryptoPunks has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this year’s NFT boom, as the collection’s pixelated avatars have dramatically risen in value. The market floor for CryptoPunks hit $100,000 worth of Ethereum for the first time last week, and currently sits above $131,000 per creator Larva Labs’ official tracker.

There have been a few multi-million-dollar CryptoPunk sales in recent weeks, too, including one that sold for $5.4 million worth of ETH in late July, and another that Vaynerchuk bought for $3.7 million around the same time. Last week, a CryptoPunk that was last purchased for just $443 in 2018 sold for nearly $4.4 million worth of ETH.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

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