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10 Facts About CryptoPunks

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Sep 11, 2023

1. A League of Their Own

CryptoPunks stand in a league of their own within the NFT space

They’re widely considered to be the collection that “started it all” - not by being the first, though having launched in 2017, they were certainly early.

Their real impact, however, was due to their success - to their creator’s surprise, they became the catalyst that propelled the burgeoning NFT movement into a craze.

2. 10,000 pieces of NFT history

It’s hard to overstate CryptoPunks’ historical significance in NFT culture. 

They brought attention to NFTs, yes – but they also inspired countless artists and entrepreneurs, not just as artistic influence but as proof of concept. 

Squiggles and Artblocks are examples of this – Snowfro has shared how discovering CryptoPunks was pivotal in making him realize that digital ownership was possible and that NFTs might be the key to the distribution of generative art. Without that moment, he might never have created either.

3. An experiment that got out of hand (in a good way)

That’s right - CryptoPunks began as an experiment.

They were created by Matt Hall and John Watkinson, who had made a program that generated randomized pixelated characters. Initially, they thought they might use the program for a mobile app or game - but another idea took hold.

They were intrigued by the concept of digital collectibles and wanted to test the concept of digital ownership and the dynamics of scarcity and demand - and the Ethereum network’s Smart Contracts provided a perfect opportunity to bring it all together.

They minted 10,000 Punks and offered them for free, convinced that perhaps a few people would find their idea cool enough to spend some (very cheap at the time) gas to claim some.

A section from the CryptoPunks grid found on Larva Labs' Website

4. 70s Punk, Cyberpunk, Daft Punk

CryptoPunks were inspired by the London 1970s punk scene.

Hall and Watkinson thought the early days of the blockchain movement had a decidedly anti-establishment vibe, and wanted to instill that into the Punks’ aesthetic.

Other influences included the cyberpunk movement and Daft Punk.

5. From Lab to Lab: Larva and Yuga

CryptoPunks belonged to Larva Labs, a company Hall and Watkinson founded for both their professional and experimental endeavors. That’s where they also went on to create Meebits and Autoglyphs.

Last year, Yuga Labs acquired both CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs, officially adding those 2 collections to the Yugaverse.

6. V1 vs V2 CryptoPunks 

A while after CryptoPunks were released users discovered a smart contract exploit that enabled buyers to withdraw the ETH they’d paid after the purchase. In response, Larva Labs scrapped that first edition, fixed the issue, and released the new and official version.

In 2021, however, the community created a Smart Contract wrapper for the V1 punks that made them safe to trade. They returned to the market as a result, regardless of the debate about their legitimacy – while their creators argue that they’re not official CryptoPunks, many collectors believe V1 CryptoPunks have their own historical significance.

V1 and V2 CryptoPunks mirror each other in everything except the background color - all V1s have a light lavender background.

A V1 CryptoPunk (left) and its V2 counterpart (right)

7. That belongs in a Museum

Cryptopunks have made their way to several museums:

  • CryptoPunks #5293 and #305 – Institute of Contemporary Art Miami was the first major art museum to acquire a CryptoPunk: #5293 - which they got thanks to a donation from Yuga Labs itself, back in July 2021. They later also received #305, which Yuga chose as a playful nod to Miami’s area code

  • CryptoPunk #110 – Centre Pompidou also got its Punk thanks to a Yuga Labs donation

8. Some CryptoPunk sales greatest hits

Here are some of the highest Cryptopunk sales of all time:

  • #5822 - This alien with a bandana sold for 8000 ETH ($23 million) on February 2022 
  • #7523 - This masked alien, on the other hand, went for 4700 ETH ($11.7 million) in June 2021
  • #4156: - Bandana ape here sold for 2500 ETH ($10.2 million) in December 2021
CryptoPunk #5822

9. A tennis player, a rapper, a supermodel, and a massive corporation walk into a bar…

There are many impressive CryptoPunks holders, including the museums we’ve covered and NFT thought leaders you know and love. Some names on the holders' list, however, might surprise you:

  • #2950 – Serena Williams 
  • #6095 – Jay-Z
  • #3653 – Heidi Klum
  • #7610 – Visa

Serena Williams's CryptoPunk, #2950

10. The book of CryptoPunks

Yuga Labs is partnering with Zak Group to release a CryptoPunks book, which will highlight all 10,000 artworks, their history, and stories. For the latter, Yuga will be tapping the Punks community.

Other contributors to the tome include Matt Hall and John Watkinson (of course) as well as notable artists and entrepreneurs from the NFT space, such as Snowfro and Beeple.

We don’t know about you, but we’re looking forward to adding one to our physical office.

Screenshot from the CryptoPunks Book App

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