Sotheby’s Withdraws Lot of 104 CryptoPunks Minutes Before Expected Auction

The sale was expected to draw up to $30 million before it was abruptly canceled by the seller.

AccessTimeIconFeb 24, 2022 at 12:32 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:57 p.m. UTC

NEW YORK — A collection of 104 CryptoPunks expected to be sold for up to $30 million was put on ice Wednesday during a much-anticipated auction at Sotheby’s.

A Sotheby’s representative said the seller decided to withdraw the lot. The auction was announced on Feb. 8.

The lot, which Sotheby’s titled “ Punk It!,” was acquired by collector “0x650d” back in July 2021 through a single $7 million transaction.

In a tweet after the initial publication of this article, the pseudonymous collector said they changed their mind:

Perhaps contributing to 0x650d’s reversal were rumors of a tepid reception for the CryptoPunks mega-lot. Three sources, including one bidder on site at Sotheby’s, told CoinDesk that the highest pre-bid offer was $14 million, which was also the reserve price.

Since the project’s inception in 2017, CryptoPunks, created by Larva Labs, has generated over 683,000 ether (ETH) in sales volume, roughly $2 billion at the time of writing. The project currently boasts a floor price of 67.5 ETH ($207,000).

This was supposed to be the second time Sotheby’s has facilitated the sale of a major non-fungible token (NFT) lot, with the first being a $24.4 million collection of 101 Bored Apes sold in September. Rapper Ja Rule was among those in attendance at the New York auction house.

To say Sotheby’s has leaned into the growing world of digital art and crypto would be an understatement – the famed auction house reported over $100 million in NFT sales in 2021 alone, and on occasion has even accepted bids for non-NFT related artwork in ether, the native currency of the Ethereum blockchain.

Sotheby's was planning to auction 104 CryptoPunks in one fell swoop. (Eli Tan/CoinDesk)
Sotheby's was planning to auction 104 CryptoPunks in one fell swoop. (Eli Tan/CoinDesk)

UPDATE (Feb. 24, 0:44 UTC): Adds context and tweet from 0x650d.

UPDATE (Feb. 24, 1:50 UTC): Adds information on pre-bid offers.


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Eli Tan

Eli was a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.