By: The Editors By: The Editors | May 9, 2023 | Culture
Beeple's "5000 Days" artwork sold for more than $69 million at Christie's auction
If you thought NFTs were just a craze, think again.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are blockchain-minted artworks with unique encryption codes which allow for verified authenticity and ownership. An NFT can be anything from a digital art piece to a song or whole album. Even fashion designers are getting in on the NFT craze.
More than 509,000 NFT artworks were sold in March 2021 alone, totaling more than $85 million in sales. It's kind of a big deal.
See also: The 20 Top-Selling NFT Artists to Collect Right Now
How much can an individual NFT sell for? Well, the market is always changing, but Cryptoart.io keeps a handy running list, ranking artists by total value sold, listing the highest-selling pieces so far, and more. The data is pulled from a variety of digital platforms, including Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, Foundation, MakersPlace, KnownOrigin and Async Art.
While the data is constantly changing, we compiled a list of the 15 most-expensive NFT art pieces ever sold—so far.
*Disclaimer: This list was last edited May 9, 2023. This list is quite volatile as Total Artwork Value is calculated by the current conversion between USD and ETH. Check out Cryptoart.io for the most up-to-date info and standings.
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Artist: Beeple / Price Sold: $69,346,250.00
Since May 1, 2007, Mike Winkelmann has created a digital art piece every single day. On Jan. 7, 2021, he created his 5,000th image, then he compiled those first 5,000 images into an NFT known as Everydays: The First 5000 Days. That NFT sold for more than $69 million at a Christie’s auction, and NFTs were immediately sent into the mainstream. Winkelmann, known by his artist name of Beeple, continues to make art every single day, and posts them to his Instagram account.
Censored consists of two generative interactive blockchain artworks.— Pak (@muratpak) February 5, 2022
A muted timer.
It currently counts Julian Assange's days in prison.
A collective piece by you.
It currently exhibits your. https://t.co/SZG1ikwArV pic.twitter.com/C46ssSx1az
Artist: Pak / Price Sold: $30,698,652.11
The anonymous digital artist who goes by the name of Pak is ranked as one of the highest-grossing NFT artists to date. His highest selling NFT Clock sold for 16,593.059 ETH. The NFT may not look like a clock, but it’s actually a digital counter of the number of days WikiLeak’s founder Julian Assange has been locked up in London’s Belmarsh Prison. Pak and Assange worked together to create this NFT to help fund Assange’s legal defense.
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Artist: Beeple / Price Sold: $28,985,000.00
Another one of Beeple’s works, Human One is a generative sculpture that mixes physical and digital art. This piece features an astronaut suit walking continuously forward, enduring different weather and biomes. Beeple maintains remote access to the piece and plans to evolve its content for the rest of his life. Human One sold on Nov. 10, 2021 via another Christie’s auction.
A 10-second video artwork, ‘CROSSROADS,’ authenticated by blockchain as one-of-a-kind, was sold for $6.6 million – it is a new type of digital asset known as NFT that has exploded in popularity with many willing to spend enormous sums on the items.— Skipper (@skipper_xrp) January 28, 2022
Made By Artist BEEPLE pic.twitter.com/bdykS9Z2rG
Artist: Beeple / Price Sold: $6,600,000.00
Beeple’s Crossroad is a bit different from his usual style. The NFT is a 10-second loop that features a large man lying face-first in the background. There are words painted all over him, and there are people walking in the foreground who don't acknowledge the figure on the ground. A blue bird settles on the man’s large body, tweets the signature Twitter whistle, and creates a speech bubble with a clown emoji inside. Beeple created this piece prior to the 2020 election between Trump and Biden, so the buyer who purchased this piece did so with the uncertainty of the outcome. The man lying in the background turned out to be former president Donald Trump, and this piece symbolizes his loss in the election. It was sold on Feb. 25, 2021 through Nifty Gateway.
#everyday #cinema4d - OCEAN FRONT pic.twitter.com/KEUbQ0Sskw— beeple (@beeple) March 24, 2019
Artist: Beeple / Price Sold: $6,000,000.00
Beeple is not shy with his messaging. From politics to global warming, Beeple depicts harsh mirrors of our reality. For this piece, he raises awareness of climate change. The NFT shows mini vans and trailers balanced on scaffolding, and at the very top rests a tree. This art piece tries to depict the precarious nature of our society. Part of his Everyday collection, Ocean Front was sold on March 20, 2021 through Nifty Giveaway.
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Artist: MadDogJones / Price Sold: $4,144,000.00
Micah Dowback, a.k.a. MadDogJones, is a digital artist whose works feature a mixture of cyberpunk themes with a hint of dystopia. In his 50-second loop video Replicator, an office copier sits in a dark room somewhere in a big city. The copier turns itself on, along with a lamp, and begins copying and printing an assignment. Then, it shuts itself off. Replicator was meant to serve as a metaphor for how technology continuously evolves, showing how something that is really not that old, such as the copier, seems outdated. The animated NFT was purchased on April 23, 2021. This was the first of its generation.
Edward Snowden's ~ "Stay Free (Edward Snowden, 2021)" on @withFND is at a 1,471 ETH bid right now.— Loopify (@Loopifyyy) April 16, 2021
Artist: Snowden / Price Sold: $4,114,600.16
Stay Free is the only known NFT created by famous whistleblower Edward Snowden. The piece features the entirety of a landmark court decision that ruled against the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance techniques, stating that these violated existing security laws. The NFT includes a picture of the whistleblower by famed British portrait photographer Platon. Snowden leaked highly-classified information from the National Security Agency back in 2013, which led to this historic ruling. The auction was held on behalf of Freedom of the Press Foundation, and the piece was sold April 16, 2021.
New record sale on SuperRare! @XCOPYART All Time High in the City sold for $2,924,080 (1000Ξ) on Saturday— SuperRare (@SuperRare) September 27, 2021
Through SuperRare royalties, @XCOPYART has received a 10% artist royalty (100Ξ) and @hex6c will receive a 1% collector royalty (10Ξ)#dontsleeponcryptoart pic.twitter.com/j3K2hC46Ng
Artist: XCopy / Price Sold: $3,015,646.70
XCopy, a London-based digital artist and crypto enthusiast, presents art pieces with a dark and dystopian atmosphere, often paired with flashing images and epilepsy trigger warning. Known for depicting death, XCopy’s All Time High in the City is no exception. It goes as far as to literally visualize Death, the figure. The animated NFT features the ferryman of the Underworld, presumably Charon, taking a man in a suit across the river Styx. This foreboding image has flashes of red and black, giving the viewer a feeling of unease. All Time High in the City was bought at this record price on Jan. 2, 2022, but was created in 2018.
Right-click and Save As guyhttps://t.co/4KbjnmAPPe circa 2018— XCOPY (@XCOPYART) August 19, 2020
They said it at $100 they'll still say it at $100,000 #cryptoart https://t.co/m8YBGEWCfO pic.twitter.com/8SXLQZxK6W
Artist: XCopy / Price Sold: $2,960,144.00
A lot of people are still unsure about why people buy NFTs when they can just save the image and claim it as their own. XCopy took this doubt and turned it into an NFT, selling it for 1,600 ETH. XCopy’s Right-click and Save As guy contains flashing, animated images in darker colors. The description states, “Why would I buy it when I can right click and save as?” Despite the amusing comment, Right-click and Save As guy was bought Dec. 9, 2021, to someone who decided to not just right click and save the image.
#AuctionUpdate Make room for the one-and-only, @fewociousThe artist's sculpture, 'Nice to meet you. I'm Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD', just made a record £2.1 million #SothebysContemporary @michaelbouhanna pic.twitter.com/jH4rsubakX— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) October 15, 2021
Artist: Fewocious / Price Sold: $2,838,640.00
At 19-years-old, pop surrealist and digital artist Fewocious is one of the best-selling NFT artists on the market. Nice to Meet You, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD is a sculpture-turned-NFT that depicts a sobbing character seemingly lifted from a children’s show with colorful swatches surrounding its body. The piece symbolizes how growing up and changing can be both exciting and terrifying. The bright colors show desperation for change, but the blue shows fear in doing so. The NFT was sold through Sotheby’s Auction House on Oct. 15, 2021.
#AuctionUpdate @dmitricherniak 's "Self Portrait #1" is sitting pretty and is currently at the $1,500,000 USD mark with a little over 5 days to go@pablorfraile https://t.co/P94h5AXDWG pic.twitter.com/4tweWTXokt— Sotheby's Metaverse (@Sothebysverse) October 20, 2021
Artist: DmitriCherniak / Price Sold: $2,682,000.00
Unlike other self-portraits, Dmitri Cherniak’s Self Portrait #1 features no face. Cherniak’s art piece is filled only with circles and curves, with splashes of color dispersed throughout. Rather than follow the norm, Cherniak goes for a playful and imaginative piece. He experimented with shapes and colors, and the NFT sold on Oct. 26, 2021 through SuperRare.
The Ross Ulbricht Genesis NFT Collection— FreeRossDAO (@FreeRossDAO) December 17, 2021
Graphite pencil drawing created in prison, with accompanying short essay. pic.twitter.com/lNK3DNXXtJ
Artist: FreeRoss / Price Sold: $2,675,230.14
Ross Ulbricht is currently facing a double life sentence with an additional 40 years in prison for charges brought against him as the creator and founder of the darknet marketplace called Silk Road. Recently, he's turned art he has created behind bars into NFTs. His image Perspective, which is a part of his Ross Ulbricht Genesis Collection, features a graphite pencil drawing of an eye with smaller eyes within. The idea is to give “perspective” on “consciousness.” Sold Dec. 9, 2021, proceeds were donated by the buyer to help the incarcerated and their families, while also fighting to free Ulbricht from prison.
A Coin for the Ferryman - 1/1— XCOPY (@XCOPYART) April 20, 2018
New #crypto #art release over @SuperRare_co #bitcoin #banker #ETH pic.twitter.com/dLQgervQOw
Artist: XCopy / Price Sold: $2,460,619.70
This NFT definitely needs a flash-warning, because XCopy went above and beyond. A Coin for the Ferryman depicts a man in the foreground wearing a suit and tie. The background flashes every color from the rainbow while the man, who seems to have his mouth open and eyes sloped down, glitches over and over. XCopy posts “#banker” with the NFT on Twitter. The ominous NFT was bought on Nov. 4, 2021 through SuperRare.
@CozomoMedici just bought "Some Asshole" for 1.3k ETH (around 3.8M USD).— NooNe0x (@phon_ro) September 27, 2021
XCOPY is on fire!https://t.co/7nza1sRhwV
Congrats @2Yeahyeah on the massive sell! pic.twitter.com/lgiB0BSQzC
Artist: XCopy / Price Sold: $2,405,117.00
Although this NFT does feature flashes of color and glitching effects, Some Asshole may be one of XCopy’s less intense NFTs. The art piece presents the silhouette of a human in the foreground with a background of flickering black and red. The silhouette is hard to make out, since there is no face or any detail to give any identity. The foreground does not move or change in any way, something out of the norm from XCopy's previous works. Initial created in 2018, Some Asshole sold for this handsome sum on Sept. 27, 2021 through SuperRare.
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Artist: Refik Anadol / Price Sold: $2,382,250.00
Take a trip into space with Refik Anadol’s Machine Hallucinations – Space : Metaverse. Anadol is a digital media artist that focuses his research and art production on the photographic history of space exploration. This NFT collection is inspired by his studio’s collaboration with NASA JPL. Anadol transports us into the world of outer space and space exploration using advanced machine learning algorithms programmed to present photographs taken by satellites and spacecraft deep in space to mesmerize the human brain. The main goal of this NFT is to explore the relationship we humans have to space, and the potential and visuality of its endless possibilities.
Looking to make an investment in the NFT space but want to learn even more before pulling the crypto trigger? Check our list of the top-selling NFT artists to start collecting right now.
Photography by: Beeple