CryptoPunk ‘Covid Alien’ sells for $ 11.75 million in Sotheby’s sale

Sotheby’s sold a masked CryptoPunk known as the Covid Alien for a hammer price of US $ 10 million in a live auction on Thursday morning, and subsequently announced a separate online sale of five CryptoPunks featuring physical prints of the 24-by-24-style pixel, 8-bit images of these pioneering Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

Covid Alien (CryptoPunk # 7523) – which gets its nickname from the medical mask it wears – was sold by a longtime digital art advocate and collector known as SillyTuna. The single lot sold out in about four minutes, with the auction opening at US $ 1.5 million, then dropping from US $ 1.8 million to the final sale, which is US $ 11.75 million. including costs.

The NFT is one of nine alien punks (so called because of their blue skin) and one of 175 with a mask, according to Sotheby’s. There are 10,000 unique CryptoPunks in all, pixelated characters that were randomly generated using algorithms created in June 2017 by software developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson and created on the Ethereum blockchain.

In a video on Sotheby’s online catalog, Sillytuna, who used the avatar of Covid Alien on social media, said he “deals with Covid Alien with the utmost respect because not only is it a high-end work of art is also an identity ”.

A physical copy of CryptoPunk # 770 will be auctioned online at Sotheby’s from June 24.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Sillytuna said in a post that he would trade that identity – which he bought earlier this year “to do something interesting” for the NFT space – for CryptoPunk # 9839. His new avatar is one of 332 punks who wear virtual reality glasses. “It’s a human copy of the alien except [VR] instead of a mask to signify a look to the future, ”he said.

CryptoPunks are considered by some to be the original NFTs because their creation inspired the Ethereum network standard known as ERC-721, which “powers most digital art and collectibles,” according to Larva Labs, the Hall and Watkinson Company. The technology gives proof of ownership to the one-of-a-kind image.

On May 11, Christie’s sold a set of nine CryptoPunks owned by Hall and Watkinson for $ 17 million including fees at an evening auction. According to Larva Labs, the cheapest punk available in their market is 13.99 ETH (US $ 36,126) and the total value of all punk sales since their inception is US $ 482.86 million.

The physical wallet for CryptoPunk # 770 which includes the code conferring ownership on the Ethereum based NFT.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

In a quick follow-up to this online sale of a single work, Sotheby’s announced that it will launch the first auction which will also include physical prints of the CryptoPunks, each signed by Watkinson. The online sale runs from June 24 to July 1.

The five punks for sale were turned over on behalf of the owners to artistic advisor and curator Georg Bak, who was the first to exhibit the CryptoPunks’ prints in October 2018. “Perfect and Priceless: Value Systems on the Blockchain,” an exhibition by Digital art at the Kate Vass Gallery in Zurich, Switzerland, which Bak said included early blockchain artwork by several renowned artists, including Ai Wei Wei, featured nine CryptoPunk prints.

The prints appeared, Bak says, after approaching Hall and Watkinson about the exhibit and discussing how to show them. “They got this amazing idea of ​​a conceptual work of art” by creating “phygital” works of art – part physical, part digital, he recalls.

Hall and Watkinson moved punks from their own collection into separate wallets, made a unique signed and numbered “one-on-one” print of each, Bak says. They then attached a private mnemonic code conferring ownership of the Ethereum-based NFT on every print in a wax-sealed envelope, destroying the codes afterwards to ensure the only copy was hidden inside, said. he.

Bak assimilates the project to that of the Franco-American artist Marcel DuChamp Hidden noise, in which an object was placed inside a ball of string fixed between two brass plates by someone other than the artist. “You might hear something inside, but you don’t know what it is or can’t access it – you have to destroy it,” Bak said.

All of the prints Bak exhibited in 2018 sold on the show’s opening night for around CHF 5,000 each, plus three more that weren’t on display, Bak said. Two of this group will be among the five sold in the Sotheby’s sale, each carrying estimates ranging from US $ 80,000 to US $ 180,000.

Because so many collectors were interested in the prints, Larva Labs decided to make 12 more, but they deliberately limited the print to 24, Bak says.

While CryptoPunks were initially available for free to anyone with an Ethereum wallet, they have since become very collectable. Individual punks’ prices depend on their attributes, including the different genres, skin colors, and accessories defining the London punk era of the 1970s, although there are aliens, monkeys, and zombies as well. Accessories can include earrings, cigarettes, hot lipstick, and a “pointe pointe” hairstyle.

For Bak, the founders of Larva Labs are “perhaps even the most important living artists” because what they have done, through CryptoPunks and other projects, such as Meetbits (20,000 unique 3D characters) , “Is a great revolution…. they created something completely new.

The five punks sold are # 6347, a punk woman with “crazy” red hair, green eye shadow, black lipstick and a cigarette; # 872, a punk woman with “wild blonde” hair, “hot” lipstick and a vape; # 2830, a masculine punk with a cutting edge, classic sunglasses, an earring and a cigarette; # 770, a male punk with “crazy” red hair, regular undertones and a “luxurious” beard; and # 1819, a male punk with a cop cap, classy sunglasses, an earring and a “big” beard.

The physical prints will be on display in the galleries of Sotheby’s New Bond Street in London during the sale.

This story has been updated to include the final price of the Covid Alien CryptoPunk including fees.

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