Christie’s to List Rare CryptoPunk, Bored Ape in NFT Auction

Demand for NFT-style avatars is driving collector interest, Christie’s says.

Sep 15, 2021 at 1:18 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 15, 2021 at 1:50 p.m. UTC

Christie’s will begin to accept bids on a rare zombie CryptoPunk non-fungible token (NFT) on Friday.

The No Time Like Present online auction, which runs Sept.17 through Sept. 28, will feature several hot NFTs, the crown jewel of which is Larva Labs’ CryptoPunk #9997, a red-eyed, bearded zombie wearing a black cap.

The auction will also include Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) #8746, a cheetah-furred ape with a halo and laser eyes, and Larva Labs’ Meebit #6337, a skull-headed figurine with Lego-like limbs.

The pieces are part of the private collection of Shawn Yue, who says he started dabbling in NFTs earlier this year.

“This [idea for the auction] came across my mind as I am celebrating [my] 40th birthday this year...It is time to mark another new chapter of my life,” Yue told CoinDesk. “A lot of my friends have started collecting NFTs for a few years, and I have learned quite a lot [about] this new category from them.”

Christie’s told CoinDesk that it has seen “surging” demand for avatar projects such as CryptoPunks and Yuga Labs’ BAYC.

“Owners of these works like to use the avatars they bought as their profile pictures – you can say that these figures become their virtual persona, and owning one of the rare punks thus also becomes a status symbol,” said Laura Shao, an associate specialist for modern and contemporary art at Christie’s.

According to Larva Labs’ website, CryptoPunk #9997 was last sold in February for 99.99 ETH, equivalent to $169,770 at the time. The punk was later offered for sale in May at 450 ETH, or $1.48 million, before the offer was withdrawn in July.

Recent sales of CryptoPunks with the rare “zombie” attribute have fetched prices as high as 2,000 ETH, or $6.7 million.

“There’s something really special that goes beyond a jpeg,” said Art Blocks founder Erick Calderon at the SALT Conference in New York on Monday. Calderon, who goes by “Snowfro,” also owns a zombie CryptoPunk.

The floor price for a CryptoPunk now stands at a lofty 76.99 ETH, or nearly $260,000.

Last week, rival auction house Sotheby’s sold a lot of 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs for $24.4 million.

Christie’s previously sold Beeple’s “Everydays - The First 5000 Days” NFT for a record-setting $69 million in March.

“The Beeple sale spoke to a new Christie’s audience,” said Noah Davis, head of digital art at Christie’s, during the 2021 SALT Conference. “There were more than 40 bidders, with 20 bids above a million dollars. But only three of those 40-plus bidders were previous Christie’s bidders.”

Both auction houses say they plan to increase the number of digital art offerings and perhaps draw fresh capital into the world of art collecting.

“In a way, Christie’s is in the front line of bridging the two worlds together,” Shao said.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Tracy Wang is a senior reporter at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS, various stablecoins, and some NFTs.