What are CryptoPunks?
The CryptoPunks are one of the most representative NFT collections on Ethereum. Some consider them the genesis of non-fungible tokens as a technology, but it is a controversial issue since there are previous projects in Ethereum and even in other blockchains -colored coins in Bitcoin and proto-NFT in Counterparty.
What is certain is that CryptoPunks invented the concept of PFP (profile picture) as a collectible digital item. A concept linked to a series of characteristics that CryptoPunks would turn into a kind of canon (many collections also adopt a supply of 10,000 avatar units and an attribute system linked to rarity similar to that of cryptopunks). So while we can't consider them the first Ethereum NFT, CryptoPunks are certainly one of the earliest examples of this technology, and one that has had the most impact.
In this guide we will not only explain what CryptoPunks are, we will also review their history, analyze the attributes that differentiate them and teach you what are the most relevant metrics that you have to analyze before launching to buy an NFT.
CryptoPunks: PFPs/Avatars as an Art Form on the Ethereum Blockchain
CryptoPunks is an NFT collection made up of 10,000 unique avatars with varying levels of rarity determined by a combination of attributes. As we have mentioned before, it is one of the first projects of the Ethereum network that would adopt the NFT (non-fungible token) technology as proof of ownership of each of the items that make up the collection.
One of the characteristics of the project is that it does not adopt the ERC-721 or ERC-1155 token standard, since neither of them existed at the time it was launched. In fact, CryptoPunks would be one of the sources of inspiration for the ERC-721 standard.
One of the most interesting aspects of the collection is that it is a tribute to crypto art in the form of a digital collectible. The pieces that make up the collection take the form of PFPs or avatars, ideal to be used as a profile picture on social networks or, in the future, in the metaverse. The fact that it was the first project that would introduce the PFP concept, gives CryptoPunks an artistic dimension that is probably lacking in the innumerable projects of this type that would later emerge - some very successful, such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cool Cats or Azuki.
For the rest, they share with the rest of the PFP projects or popular avatars many of their characteristics: the fact that they have a limited supply (often capped at 10,000 units), that no two avatars are the same, that a system of attributes is used linked to different levels of rarity and adopting NFT technology as proof of ownership linked to a public address on the Ethereum blockchain.
The CryptoPunks would be created by Larva Labs, a New York software company created by two former Google employees, Matt Hall and John Watkinson in 2017. Their original idea was to work on mobile applications or video games. But in the end they decided to develop software as their first project, which would be responsible for generating thousands of different characters that would make up a collection and revolutionize the way of understanding the concept of property applied to digital art: the CryptoPunks NFT were born.
One of the purposes of Matt Hall and John Watkinson would be to pay tribute through CryptoPunks to crypto art. The aesthetics of the collection is influenced by the anti-establishment spirit of the pioneers of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies (cypherpunks), of the London music scene during the 70s (cradle of the Sex Pistols and punk in general) and of dystopian works like Blade Runner and Neuromancer.
In a tweet, Larva Labs would also mention Rare Pepes as a reference, one of the first forms of crypto art on the Counterparty network, a type of sidechain built on top of Bitcoin. As Artnome explains in his article “Rare Pepe and the Birth of Cryptoart”, Rare Pepes would have a huge impact on the subsequent evolution of NFTs as they were the first community that would allow anyone to submit works of art (memes in the form of trading cards) to be sold, traded, or given away.
Therefore, the work of Larva Labs as a founding element of the NFT ecosystem in Ethereum would be nurtured on the one hand by influences external to the blockchain (although in some cases closely related, such as cypherpunks), and native elements of the blockchain (such as the precedent set by the Rare Pepes on a blockchain with obvious limitations compared to Ethereum).
The media would echo the CryptoPunk phenomenon as early as 2018, during the aftermath of the boom experienced by crypto at the end of 2017. Since then, they would not stop being mentioned in some of the main world headlines such as CNBC, The Financial Times, Bloomberg .
The CryptoPunks would also be one of the catalysts for the NFT fever that would start in late 2020 and early 2021, and that would also lead to a boom in generative art with the emergence of Art Blocks. Both the CryptoPunks and some of the top Art Blocks collections would be invited to some of the world's top art fairs like Art|Basel.
In February 2021 an Ape-type Punk would sell for 800 eth (1.5M USD at the time) and in March a Punk Alien would break all records reaching 7.5M USD). This record would be broken recently, in February 2022, with the sale of another alien for 8,000 eth (23M USD). To this it should be added that the Larva Labs collection would be the highlight of an auction held on May 11, 2021 at Christie's, which would raise 17M USD for a set of 9 punks.
Why are CryptoPunks valuable?
As we have mentioned before, apart from works of crypto art, CryptoPunks are PFPs represented as non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
What is an NFT?
NFTs are cryptographic tokens -units of data stored on a blockchain- that represent an asset that is unique and therefore not exchangeable for another equivalent. For this reason, they are perfect instruments to tokenize -that is, represent ownership in the blockchain- of all kinds of assets such as collectibles, works of art or video game items.
CryptoPunks: valuable digital collectibles in NFT format
In the case of the CryptoPunks, Larva Labs generated an image made up of a set of 10,000 avatars ordered numerically, which can be found on their website. What guarantees the survival of the work given its digital nature, is its ubiquity and free access, anyone can save a copy of said image on their device. Aside from that, Larva Labs would create an individual token for each of the CryptoPunks specifying their distinctive attributes, their transaction history, and whether they are for sale or have received bids - another feature of the collection is that Larva Labs would design its own marketplace, in which CryptoPunks holders can trade their NFTs without commissions.
Throughout history, human beings have used all kinds of objects as symbols of social status. Traditionally, the elites commissioned works of art from renowned artists to claim their privileged position within society. In the case of the crypto world, what we see is a kind of confluence, a blurring of the border that separates fine art from the world of collecting. Objects change, they are no longer physical and digitized, but their function remains the same: a status symbol within the community.
The problem with digital artworks is that they are easily replicable. There is no way to prevent any user from doing a “right click and save”. What smart contract platforms such as Ethereum allow through NFTs is to issue a certificate of ownership of the digital work, of which there will only be one owner. Anyone will be able to have a replica - just like everyone can take a picture of the Mona Lisa - but only a public Ethereum address will own the NFT that represents the original work.
The advantage of having an efficient, transparent and difficult to manipulate system to prove ownership of a digital work favors the development of an economy around these assets. Hence the boom that has occurred with PFP (profile picture) type NFT collectibles, which as a status symbol are perfect in an era in which reputation linked to activity on social networks is becoming increasingly important.
In the case of the CryptoPunks, the ownership of these digital assets is proven by means of an elegantly written contract that is freely available to everyone on the Ethereum blockchain. As we have mentioned, NFTs are instruments that act as property registries that cannot be corrupted, but that are also accompanied by a history that allows knowing all the addresses that they have owned at some point - which is also interesting, since certain collectibles can acquire greater value if at some point a famous collector has owned them.
The system designed by Larva Labs allows the permanent public exhibition of the digital work, while maintaining an unquestionable sole property model that guarantees the rights of the buyer. Said system would serve as inspiration for the famous ERC-721 token standard, which together with the ERC-1155, make up the vast majority of NFTs currently in circulation on the market.
Types and attributes of CryptoPunks
At NFT Price Floor we classify NFTs based on a number of categories: PFPs/Avatars, Art, Gaming, Derivatives, and Metaverse. As is obvious, CryptoPunks are NFTs of the avatar or PFP (profile picture) type that are used as status symbols or digital identity mechanisms in social networks and, in the future, in the metaverse.
Each CryptoPunk is unique, but not all are equally valuable. Some punks have extremely rare typologies or attributes, while others are very common, which is often reflected in their price.
There are 5 general types of CryptoPunks: Aliens (9 units), Apes (24 units), Zombies (88 units), Women (3840) and Men (6039). 87
Aside from these 5 general typologies, Cryptopunks are also categorized by the number and types of attributes they display. There are punks with 0 attributes (8 units), 1 attribute (333 units), 2 attributes (3560 units), 3 attributes (4501 units), 4 attributes (1420 units), 5 attributes (166 units), and 6 attributes (11 units). ).
Some of the main attributes that distinguish CryptoPunks are:
- Beanie, which are 0.44% of the total.
- Choker, which are 0.48% of the total.
- Pilot Helmet, which are 0.54% of the total.
- Tiara, which are 0.55% of the total.
- Top Hat, which are 1.15% of the total.
- Cowboy Hat, which is 1.42% of the total.
- Hoodie, which are 2.59% of the total.
- Purple cap, which are 3.51% of the total-
This complex system of general categories, subcategories and attributes, give the collectible a greater interest for collectors. And the fact that it is the first collection of PFP-type NFTs has made this classification system linked to different levels of rarity and a cast supply has become a kind of canon for other similar projects that have also been very successful (such as example Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cool Cats, Doodles or Azuki).
How to buy a CryptoPunk?
When they were released, CryptoPunks price was 0 - they could be claimed for free by any user with an Ethereum compatible wallet. It was only necessary to pay the gas to execute the transaction, so the 10,000 CryptoPunks would be quickly accumulated by many pioneers of a sector that was still very young.
Currently, the process to acquire a CryptoPunk goes through the marketplace itself that Larva Labs would design and that works completely on the Ethereum blockchain. This marketplace allows users to put their punks up for sale, place bids or immediately buy punks that have been put up for sale by other users.
The market incorporates a color system that indicates the status of each of the punks. If the background color is purple, the punk has received a bid. If the background color is brown, it means that the owner of the punk has put it up for sale at a certain price. And finally, if the background color is blue, it means that the punk is neither for sale nor has it received any active bids from other marketplace users.
Another alternative is to buy the wrapped version of CryptoPunks that allows them to be listed on marketplaces like OpenSea or Rarible. However, this option is far from being preferred by investors and collectors.