The Most Expensive Crypto Art Over Time
An up-to-date overview of significant crypto art and NFT sales over the past few years.

Jan 25th, 2022

In the crypto artist community, we widely celebrated the successes of our peers long before the Christie’s auction in March 2021 answered the question of value when it comes to crypto art and NFTs. When I started working on my crypto art history timeline at the end of 2019, I naturally collected all the first sales records. After all, we have been conditioned to think the way the art world does: money equals validation.

In the crypto artist community, we widely celebrated the successes of our peers long before the Christie’s auction in March 2021 answered the question of value when it comes to crypto art and NFTs. When I started working on my crypto art history timeline at the end of 2019, I naturally collected all the first sales records. After all, we have been conditioned to think the way the art world does: money equals validation. 

The meteoric boom of NFTs sales in 2021 and the subsequent arrival of the first traditional art world players into this new arena were inevitable. From that time on, I refrained from including most sales in my timeline. However, since I still receive frequent questions, I decided to highlight some more notable artwork sales in this blog post to provide some new context. We’ll start small:

December 19th, 2018 
Black Swan by cryptograffiti

Black Swan
by Cryptograffiti

Repurposed fiat on wood, 1.44 in x 1.75 in.
MSAT 1 / BTC 0.00000000000001 / ~ USD $0.000000037
View on website

Celebrating the launch of the Bitcoin Lightning Network and the introduction of Bitcoin microtransactions, artist cryptograffiti created Black Swan, a 1.44 in. x 1.75 in. artwork made of dollar bills. Black Swan sold for one millisatoshi or USD $0.000000037 at the time of auction on December 19th, 2018. It was auctioned off to the lowest unique bidder.

2013-2017: Early Blockchain and Crypto Art

While there were a few digital crypto art sales during this time, sales records typically revolved around blockchain-themed physical artworks.

September 14th, 2013 
200 Bitcoin by Kuno Goda

200 Bitcoin
by Kuno Goda

Signed canvas print,
23.6 x 47.2 in., edition of 1
BTC 199 / ~ Less than USD $125,000
View on The Guardian

Inspired by Warhol’s 200 Dollars, this artwork is one of the earliest paintings representing digital currency. The undisclosed sale made international headlines in 2014, and the artist insists that the selling price was actually much lower than the reported USD $125,000, saying there was a delay between the purchase and its settlement during which there was a Bitcoin price fluctuation. 

July 21st, 2014 
Last (Bitcoin) Supper by Youl

Last (Bitcoin) Supper
by Youl 

Acrylic on canvas, 55 × 28 in.
BTC 4.64 / ~ USD $2,900
View on website 

An anonymous Bitcoin enthusiast commissioned French artist Youl to create a piece of artwork for BTC 1 on December 3rd, 2013. The commission took place within the scope of his Bitcoin projects, where he tried to continuously make buy/sell bitcoin transactions that constantly increase in value until he can buy a house. Youl sold Last (Bitcoin) Supper over eBay, replacing the word “Bitcoin” with “Bitc0in” to respect the terms and conditions of the platform. The artwork received 56 bids over ten days and was sold to an anonymous Bitcoin trader in Andorra.

October 27th, 2014
Eye of God by Xania Dorfman

Eye of God
by Xania Dorfman

Oil on canvas, 60 x 47 in.
BTC 35 / ~ USD $14,400
View on Coindesk

The story of Eye of God is typical for many early crypto artworks. An Israelian mining hardware company invited Xania to create a piece for their conference. In an interview, Xania mentioned she didn’t have any prior experience or knowledge of Bitcoin before this commission and remained skeptical. I find these early interpretations intriguing, as they already feature elements that will persist over the upcoming years, such as the Guy Fawkes mask. 

November 12th, 2015 
Nakamoto by cryptograffiti

by cryptograffiti

Destroyed credit cards, adhesive on wood,
15.2 × 12.2 in.
BTC 17.3 / ~ USD $5,500
View on website

Crypograffiti created this collage of destroyed credit cards to raise funds for Dorian Nakamoto, who Newsweek falsely identified as the creator of Bitcoin in 2014. Dorian also co-signed cryptograffiti’s collage. The media frenzy following the article turned his life upside down. The personal and sensitive information about his health and finances in the Newsweek report led to him being blocked from work in his career as a computer engineer with security clearance. 

April 24th, 2015 
Event Listeners by Harm van den Dorpel

Event Listeners
by Harm van den Dorpel

Digital screensaver,
edition of 100
BTC 0.12 / ~ USD $26 per edition
View on website

MAK Vienna, the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, became the first museum to buy digital artworks, using Bitcoin from Dutch artist Harm van den Dorpel. Harm created Event Listeners for a panel held on March 31st called “MAK NITE Lab Digital Superposition – The File as an Object.” It was exhibited by the Austrian cointemporary Bitcoin art gallery, Ascribe was used for the blockchain-based verification. While it appears to be the first institutional art sale using a cryptocurrency, the artist’s claim to have executed the first NFT sale has not been verified yet.

2018 Rise of Crypto Art and NFTs

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) initiated many people to cryptocurrencies, and with this new wave of crypto enthusiasts rose interest into blockchain art, mainly in a digital form.

January 23rd, 2018
Homer Pepe by ICQ

Homer Pepe
by ICQ

CounterParty Asset Token,
edition of 1
Pepe Cash 350,000 / ~ USD $39,000
View on xchain

Around the peak of the ICO bubble, the Rare Art Fest, or RAREAF, brought together crypto and art enthusiasts in NYC and featured one of the earliest live auctions for digital collectibles. The Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, “Feels Good Man,” highlighted the significance of the auction, and Daniel Penny wrote a thorough summary of the auction for the Paris Review

Remarkably, the first substantial NFT sale, which went viral, would derive from a project of arguably the first crypto art community. News outlets worldwide picked up on the story and tried to grasp the concept of NFTs. Unlike many other Rare Pepe cards that night, the highest-selling Homer Pepe was created in a non-dividable edition of one and adhered to the NFT definition of being non-fungible. The winner of the auction, online marketer, Peter Krell resold Homer Pepe in early 2021 for ETH 205 / ~ USD $320,000 to the collector TokenAngels. 

February 14th, 2018
Forever Rose by Kevin Abosch

Forever Rose
by Kevin Abosch

ERC-20 token / Edition of 10
USD $1,000,000 worth of GTO / IMA
View on website

Kevin Abosch sold this conceptual piece on Valentine’s Day to a group of ten collectors, including leaders and investors of the crypto world such as ORCA Fund, Future Money and Ink, and TLDR Capital. Forever Rose was paid for using two cryptocurrencies: GTO by GIFTO and IAMA by Kevin Abosch. 

Kevin Abosch and GIFTO, a virtual gifting platform on the blockchain, collaborated on Forever Rose and have donated the proceeds to CoderDojo Foundation to pay for free programming classes for children and teens 7-17 years old. While it may be considered the first substantial crypto art sale, it cannot be considered the first significant NFT sale, since the ERC-20 token is a fungible standard. I expand on the definition of crypto art and NFTs in another article. 

Artificial Intelligence, Fall of 2018

Three artworks by three artists sold for ETH 4 each in fall 2018. The interest in AI art derived from the infamous Christie’s auction of Edmond de Belamy on October 25th by the French collective Obvious. The print sold for USD $432,500, a multiple of the auction’s estimate, and brought AI art into the spotlight.

The sale was controversial because Obvious, a trio of 25-year old students, used almost the entire code of an even younger artist, Robbie Barrat, without attribution. The Verge summarized the story in an interesting article giving voice to all parties involved. This gives some context about the order of these new sales records:

September 10th, 2018
Alda Garden by Obvious

Alda Garden
by Obvious

GAN-generated image
ERC-721 token, edition of 1,
2,048  ×  2,048 px, JPG
ETH 4 / ~ USD $784
View on SuperRare

October 25th, 2018
AI Generated Landscape Painting #7 by Robbie Barrat

AI Generated Landscape Painting #7
by Robbie Barrat

Gan-generated image, 
ERC-721 token, edition of 1,
1,024  ×  1,024 px, JPG
ETH 4 / ~ USD $814
View on SuperRare

December 1st, 2018
AI Imagined Portrait Painted by a Robot #2 (2018) by Pindar Van Arman

AI Imagined Portrait Painted by a Robot #2
by Pindar Van Arman

Combination of AI, Deep Learning, and feedback loops,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1,
2,794  ×  3,457 px, JPG
ETH 4 / ~ USD $472
View on SuperRare

Pindar’s artwork was resold for ETH 80 / ~ USD $344,253 in October 2021.

2019-2020: Collaborations, New Digital Art Collectors and Secondary Sales

The value of most cryptocurrencies fell after the ICO bubble burst, but that didn’t impact sales of crypto art and NFTs for long. Towards the end of 2019, prices for crypto art kept rising steadily and fast. 

November 30th, 2019
Saint Nakamoto by Jivinci and Alotta Money

Saint Nakamoto
by Jivinci and Alotta Money

Animation, ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 11.12 ETH / ~ USD $1,688
View on SuperRare

I remember how impactful this sale was within the crypto artist community. The collaboration between Alotta Money and jivinci broke the all-time sales record for the SuperRare marketplace. The collector Matthew (niftytime) wrote an extensive post on the platform Cent, accurately predicting where crypto art and NFTs were headed.

The artwork was resold twice in 2021, first for ETH 38 / ~ USD $71,037 and later for ETH 278.1 / ~ USD $1.078m on October 17th, 2021. 

December 15th, 2019
EthGirl by Trevor Jones and Alotta Money

by Trevor Jones and Alotta Money

Animation, ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 70 / ~ $USD 10,008
View on SuperRare

Trevor’s first artwork on SuperRare broke the platform’s record. Picasso’s Girl with Mandolin inspired Trevor’s base painting. The collaboration EthGirl featured an animated girl in the shape of the Ethereum symbol, which opened up to reveal Picasso’s pixelated eye. 

December 24th, 2019
Crazy Diamond [End-2019] by Hackatao and OficinasTK

Crazy Diamond [End-2019]
by Hackatao and OficinasTK

Animation, 720 x 720 px, GIF,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 25 / ~ USD $3,198
View on SuperRare

The collaborative piece commemorated the momentum and enthusiasm the crypto art space saw towards the end of the year 2019. A few months later, the two artists collaborated again to celebrate the first one million USD earned by artists on the SuperRare platform with another diamond artwork.

July 23rd, 2020 
The Bitcoin Bull #1/1 by Trevor Jones

The Bitcoin Bull #1/1 by Trevor Jones

Animation, ERC-721, edition of 1
USD $55,555
View on Nifty Gateway

Initially named Picasso’s Bull, this artwork broke the record on Nifty Gateway and was accompanied by different colour variants and edition sizes. It is unconfirmed yet suggests itself that the Picasso family’s recently announced artwork drop on Nifty Gateway required this name change. Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, then still involved as co-founder of the Museum of Crypto Art, acquired the animation.

September 18th, 2020
Right Place, Right Time by Matt Kane

Right Place, Right Time by Matt Kane 

Live visualization on,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 263 / ~ USD $100,422
View on Async

It’s not only the six-digit price tag in Matt Kane’s programmable artwork sale that was remarkable. The artwork’s sale formed a 10-year collaboration with the collector Tokenangels. In this unique collaboration, close to historic patronage models, the artist will release 210 NFTs for ten years, for which the collector retains a 21% revenue share.

October 7th, 2020
Block 21 by Robert Alice

Block 21 by Robert Alice

24-carat gold leaf, suspended pigment and acrylic on canvas laid down on panel and ERC-721 token, edition of 1
USD $131,250
View on Async

Robert Alice is an artistic project promoting blockchain culture within the visual arts by Ben Gentilli. Block 21 is the 21st artwork of the artist’s series Portraits of a Mind, which visualized the founding code behind Bitcoin onto hand-painted, decentralized transcriptions. It is tied to the location of the physical work and programmed to only be available for view during the daylight hours of the time zone the painting is located in.

The marketplace Async partnered with Christie’s auction house for the sale of this work, and the painting and NFT sold at seven times the original estimate. While technically a hybrid with the physically painting and the NFT on an open dime, it was the first NFT sale through a traditional, major auction house.

October 17th, 2020
Genesis by Jose Delbo and Trevor Jones

Genesis by Jose Delbo and Trevor Jones

Animation, 2362 x 3374 px,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 302.5 / ~ $USD 111,377
View on MakersPlace

This collaboration between comic book artist José Delbo (at the age of 87) and painter Trevor Jones broke MakersPlace’s sales record. The piece was based on José’s pencil sketch, which Trevor reimagined in oil colours on canvas. Genesis was the first of four artworks the artists released in their collaboration.

December 14th, 2020


Hybrid NFT with a physical token,
ERC-721, edition of 1
USD $777,777
View on Nifty Gateway

The second release of Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, on Nifty Gateway raised attention in several ways. The individual artwork record sold for USD $777,777 with 20 other 1/1 pieces resulting in an unprecedented USD $3.5m in total sales

The mysterious bidding on the other 20 pieces for USD $2.2m was soon demystified, as it became clear that despite different bidder addresses, people could track the pieces back to Metakoven and Twobadour. The duo admitted their intention in a blog post, and these acquisitions would form the base for their B20 project and token. 

The year 2021: NFTs Enter the Mainstream

Most crypto artists and collectors were convinced of the growth of the NFT space, but few would have expected the meteoric surge we saw in 2021. NFT even became Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2021. It was no surprise that the sales record focused on these digital vessels.

March 11th, 2021
Everydays - The First 5000 Days by Beeple

Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Beeple

Collage, 21,069 x 21,069 pixels, JPG,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 42,329 / ~ USD $ 69,346,250
View on Christie’s

This sale brought thousands of people into the crypto space and established NFTs. Its significance led to some people referring to the timeline of the crypto art space as being BB and AB, or Before Beeple and After Beeple. Vignesh Sundaresan, or Metakoven, added another piece by the South Carolinian artist to his Metapurse collection. 

Despite all the enthusiasm, the auction was heavily criticized for the opaque structures of the auction house. The underbidder, Justin Sun, owner of the software company BitTorrent, complained on Twitter that another buyer outbid him in the last 20 seconds by USD $250,000. The bidders needed to be approved before bidding, and the bids were not recorded on the blockchain. 

April 23rd, 2021 
Replicator by Mad Dog Jones

Replicator by Mad Dog Jones

Animation, 4,800 x 6,000 px,
ERC-721 token, edition of 1
USD $4,144,000
View on Phillip’s

Michah Dowbak’s (also known as Mad Dog Jones) REPLICATOR tells the story of a machine through time. The conceptual artwork depicting a photocopier sold at the Philipps auction for USD $4.2m will create approximately 220 more versions of itself for a period of one year. It represented the highest art sale by a living Canadian artist. 

May 8th, 2021
Save Thousands Of Lives by Noora Health

Save Thousands Of Lives by Noora Health

Animation, ERC-1155 token, edition of 1
ETH 1,337  / ~ $USD 5.224,996
View on OpenSea

Save Thousands of Lives is an impactful NFT release by the non-profit Noora Health to raise funds for its work with new mothers in South Asia. Programmer, writer and investor Paul Graham bought the animated photo collage at double its estimate in an OpenSea auction, effectively saving the lives of over 2,000 children.

May 14th, 2021 
Dreaming at Dusk by Izel Yard

Dreaming at Dusk by Izel Yard

Generative animation, 1,020*1280 px,
MP4, ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 500 / ~ USD $2,040,500
View on Foundation

Izel Yard, aka ixshells, created this piece in honour of the first .onion website, called Dusk. PleasrDAO, the auction winner, also received the cryptographic key used to create Dusk and a one-of-a-kind artwork generated using this key. 

The Panama-born generative artist became the highest-selling female crypto artist to date. Her artwork was auctioned to support the Tor project, a nonprofit protecting the human right to privacy.

June 10th, 2021
CryptoPunk #7523 by Larvalabs

CryptoPunk #7523 by Larvalabs

Generative PNG, 24 x 24 px,
hybrid ERC-20 token, edition of 1
USD $11,754,000
View on website

The crypto punk project was very influential on the NFT space since it was created using a hybrid ERC-20 format; to be precise, Larvalabs created ERC-20 tokens with non-fungible attributes. With continuously rising art sales, collectors’ interest shifted quickly to collectibles. The initial free release of the 10,000 punks in 2017 precipitated a rapid growth in prices over the last months. The Sotheby’s Natively Digital auction marked a spectacular highlight of this trend for one of the nine alien punks.

October 15th, 2021
Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD by FEWOCiOUS

Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD by FEWOCiOUS

Life-size sculpture and ERC-721 NFT, edition of 1
ETH 654 / ~ USD $2,857,702
View on Sotheby’s

FEWOCiOUS, whose real name is Victor Langlois, is one of the most successful and visible members of a growing community of queer and trans crypto artists. The vibrant artworks, his bubbly personality and the compelling story of the young artist escaping a contentious home through crypto art captured the interest of collectors and the community.  

This auction exceeded the one Victor had earlier the same year at Christie’s. While the suit on the sculpture is removable and wearable, Sotheby’s suggests leaving it in the case for preservation. Fewocious, on the other hand, hopes that the winning bidder will wear it for dinner with him sometime.

October 26th, 2021
Pepenopolous by 0jak

by 0jak

CounterParty Asset, Edition of 1
USD $3.65m
View on xchain

Collector Tokenangels put one of the seven single-issuance Rare Pepe cards on auction. The card, named after Andreas M. Antonopoulos, one of Bitcoin’s most renowned evangelists, sold as the highest lot during the Sotheby’s auction. The auction’s success is seen by some as the historic end to the greenwashing phase; the Rare Pepe project and community were written out of history due to a later misappropriation by the alt-right movement.

October 26th, 2021
BAYC #8817 by Seneca/Yuga Labs

BAYC #8817 by Seneca/Yuga Labs

ERC-721, profile picture collectible within a collection of 10,000
USD $3,408m
View on OpenSea

This solid gold ape of the Bored Ape Yacht Club was also sold at Sotheby’s auction. It is representative of how the 10,000 profile picture collectibles soared to popularity. The ownership of an ape gives access to an online social club, which continuously branches into the physical realm. The popularity of this project raised celebrity interest and became one of the less and less affordable gateway NFTs for celebrities to enter the crypto space.

December 8th, 2021
Right-click and Save As Guy by xcopy

Right-click and Save As Guy
by xcopy

Animation, ERC-721 token, edition of 1
ETH 1,600 / ~ USD $7.063m
View on SuperRare

Right-click and Save As guy mocked one of the most frequently heard criticisms of crytpo art, the fact that NFT artworks could be saved digitally without purchasing. The artwork was purchased by Snoop Dogg, who had already bought the animation “Some Asshole” by xcopy for USD $4m in September. It is a remarkable sale given that the primary sale occurred for ETH 1 / ~ USD $94 back on December 10th, 2018.

December 4th, 2021
Merge by Pak

by Pak

ERC-721 token, open edition
312,686 editions sold 
USD $91,806,519 
View on Nifty Gateway

The anonymous artist who developed the idea of open editions, which are an unlimited supply of NFTs for a limited time, released the Merge collection as an open edition that 28,983 collectors purchased. The tokens were designed to consolidate over time as the individual mass tokens would merge. 

Pak’s previous record-breaking releases were overshadowed by other newsworthy items like the Beeple sale. With Merge Nifty Gateway instantly claimed, this sale constituted the most significant sale by a living artist, but the art world rejected the project based on its fractionalized approach. In their opinion, PAK hadn’t sold one artwork but over 300,000 editions. The USD $91m will undoubtedly help as consolation.

Let’s see what 2022 might bring. I will keep updating this post.