CryptoPunk: The NFT collection that started it all!

Nalikes Studio
5 min readNov 23, 2022
Credits: Larva Labs - Crypto Punks

CryptoPunks is one of the earliest non-fungible token NFT projects developed on the Ethereum blockchain 🪙. The project consists of 10,000 algorithmically generated 24x24 pixel portraits featuring random attributes such as the person wearing a hat 🤠 or smoking a pipe🚬.

In NFTs, there’s nothing quite as punk as owning a CryptoPunk. They are a status symbol 🗽, a piece of Internet history 🌐, and an unspeakably valuable asset, CryptoPunks may be the most important NFT project there is. ✨

At the time of writing this article, the cheapest Punk is available for 62.95 ETH ($73,383.33 USD) 🤯

The most expensive punk, “CryptoPunk#5822”, was sold for a staggering 8,000 ETH ($23.7M). 🤑


Who made CryptoPunks?

Larva Labs, a two-person 🧑🤝🧑development team that worked on a wide range of projects from mobile games 📱 and utilities to web infrastructure to digital design and art 🖼️, created CryptoPunks. The team used the London punk scene 🎡, cyberpunk novels, and video games as inspiration for their pixelated character generator.

In 2017, they generated 10,000 unique characters and uploaded them on the Ethereum blockchain. A CryptoPunk was free to claim 😲 to anyone interested. Larva Labs kept 1,000 portraits for themselves, but the rest were quickly claimed. The only way to acquire a CryptoPunk today is to purchase it directly from its owner. 🫰

What are CryptoPunks?

Crypto Punks are unique 24×24 pixel art images that depict mostly humans 👨👩 (male and female). However, there are several other unique types which are considered more valuable because of their rarity. These include zombies 🧟 (88), apes 🐒 (24), and aliens 👽 (9).

Each CryptoPunk can also exhibit a combination of 87 unique attributes. These are known as “traits” and include things like hats🎩, pipes, necklaces 📿, earrings, eyepatches 🏴☠️, and more.

The maximum number of traits that a single CryptoPunk can have is seven. However, there is only one CryptoPunk in existence with seven traits, #Punk 8348. It has a cigarette 🚬, earring, mole, buck teeth😬, classic shades 🕶️, a top hat 🎩, and a big beard 🧔. CryptoPunks can also have zero traits, but most tend to have two or three. You can see how the number of traits impacts both the value and scarcity of a CryptoPunk NFT in the image below.

Crypto Punk attributes counts

What makes CryptoPunks special

Contrary to the many recent projects it inspired, CryptoPunks didn’t initially set out to build a community 🔉. In reality, the group lacked even a road map🗺️. Founders of Larva Labs and Canadian software developers 🍁 Matt Hall and John Watkinson came up with the project as an experiment.

There are a few things that make CryptoPunks special as a project.

  1. Being one of the first projects of its kind gives it value. 💰
  2. Only 10,000 CryptoPunks will ever exist. This creates scarcity among collectors. 🧟
  3. Some CryptoPunk portraits may be more valuable than others based on their attributes (or lack thereof). 👻

But rarity isn’t the only factor in how much a CryptoPunk is worth. Some portraits are desired merely because a collector likes the look. 👍

Why are CryptoPunks so expensive?

The owners of CryptoPunks are frequently viewed as visionaries and builders in the NFT community. They are perceived, whether accurately or incorrectly, as pioneers and innovators who anticipated the rise of NFTs and jumped on the boat early 🚤. As a result, they are presumed to be trustworthy and important 🫡. In fact, several collectors have developed entire personalities, projects, groups, and companies centred around a single CryptoPunk NFT.

Some claim that owning a Punk is equivalent to placing a bet 💸on the significance of NFTs and the Ethereum blockchain, given their history and how they evolved alongside the Ethereum blockchain from their earliest days 🕐. Most of the early Punks fans didn’t merely stumble upon the project. To get engaged with CryptoPunks, as GMoney put it, “you had to be around in crypto early on.”

In short, the project is valued so highly because of its historical significance and the way in which it represents a belief in Ethereum. 🎐

CryptoPunks acquisition by Yuga Labs

In March 2022, CryptoPunks and Meebits were both purchased by Yuga Labs, the company that founded Bored Ape Yacht Club 🐒. (Everything to know about BAYC)

With this purchase, Yuga Labs intends to support a “community of builders” who will produce derivative works based on the two projects.

Yuga Labs announced that they would hand over their intellectual property (IP), commercial rights, and exclusive licensing rights to the individual NFT holders in order to do this, much as they did with their own BAYC collection. This will make it possible for owners of CryptoPunks and Meebits to produce goods based on their NFTs in the same manner that owners of BAYC have.

As part of the deal, Yuga Labs also received 423 CryptoPunks 💀 and 1711 Meebits 👾. When asked what they plan to do with them, Gordon and Gargamel, the pseudonymous co-founders of Yuga Labs, said, “We’re not in a rush to do anything but give people their IP, see what they build, and listen.”

The future of CryptoPunks

Despite being only a few years old, CryptoPunks is already recognized as a legacy NFT project. GMoney points out that Punks won’t be forgotten or lost in the wave even if the NFT area is expanding so quickly. 🪴 Why? because they are the origin of everything. CryptoPunks will keep playing a significant role in the NFT community. They don’t need to change, he added, and nothing must occur for them to remain in history. 🗺️

Still, with a new owner (Yuga Labs), Punks will likely undergo some changes. 🍾 Yuga Labs currently gets a cut each and every time a Bored Ape is resold. However, Larva Labs didn’t do that with CryptoPunks and Meebits. Yuga Labs says they don’t plan to change that, but they didn’t offer any statement indicating what they plan to do with the collections. 🔮

No matter what, it seems very natural that this space’s mascot is a punk, given how frequently the NFT community is regarded as a fad. 😉

Follow all of our socials to learn more topics related to web3 🌐, blockchain🧠, development🧑💻, crypto tokens🪙, NFTs 🖼️ and much more 📱. Let’s Build Together.

Nalikes Studio: We build web3 experiences for brands
Nalikes Studio: We build web3 experiences.