The Top 13 Digital Art NFT Lots of 2021

Artory is looking back at the top digital art NFT auction lots of 2021. With the growth of online auctions and the soaring prices of digital art, 2021 was a hallmark year for NFTs, garnering some of the highest sales of the year. Join us here as we list the top 13 digital art NFT lots of 2021.

In 2018, The Artory Registry was the first platform to immutably record artwork information on the blockchain when Artory partnered with Christie’s to exclusively register each piece of art sold from the $323M Barney A. Ebsworth Collection. Artory was a pioneer in registering digital artwork information on the blockchain as well, through our partner CADAF. Artory was a pioneer in registering digital artwork information on the blockchain with our partner CADAF.

Now, through trusted data from Artory’s network of partners, such as Winston Art Group, Artory is linking NFTs to vetted physical artworks to be offered as financial instruments through alternative investment platforms, crypto marketplaces, and private offerings. The data is secured by Artory on Algorand to generate tokens for each artwork and fund participant and provide ongoing data support.

Artory’s price database, which contains millions of transaction records from auction houses across the globe, is central to the research conducted in the Art Basel and UBS 2020 Art Market Report. From classic masterpieces to innovative digital artworks, Artory contains a diverse array of data points, provenance records, and price histories that are invaluable to collectors and art historians alike. Start your research on Artory today.

1. “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” (2021) by Beeple

Price: 69,346,250 USD

Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, is a graphic designer originally from Charleston, South Carolina. Having worked on visuals for major artists such as Justin Bieber and Eminem, Beeple found success in his digital works including short films, VR/AR projects, and NFT’s. Beginning in 2007, Beeple created a picture everyday and posted it online for over 10 years. “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” (2021) is a compilation of these images and is the first entirely digital artwork to be offered at auction and to be purchased with cryptocurrency.

Beeple Everydays
Excerpt from “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” (2021) by Beeple

“EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” (2021) was sold at Christie’s Online Auction for $69,346,250, making it the most expensive digital art to be purchased at auction to date.

2. “HUMAN ONE,” (2021) by Beeple

Price: 28,985,000 USD

HUMAN ONE,” (2021) is a hybrid work meshing physical and digital, and is illustrative of Beeple’s evolving practice. Discussing this piece, Beeple says, “Really it is a lifelong project. I want to make something that people can continue to come back to find new meaning in”.

Beeple Human
“HUMAN ONE,” (2021) by Beeple

“HUMAN ONE,” (2021) was sold for $28,985,000 at Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale.

3. 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club,” (2021) by Yuga Labs

Price: 24,393,000 USD

Yuga Labs launched their project Bored Ape Yacht Club in April of 2021. With the purchase of a Bored Ape NFT, the owner gains access to the BAYC and there, one can turn their collectible image NFT into an animated avatar. This virtual space has become a home for many NFT collectors to “ape in” and participate in creative digital experiences. “101 Bored Ape Yacht Club,” (2021) is a collection of assorted NFT’s with individualized style, taste, and appearance. Yuga Labs’ unification of NFT collections is unique to their practice and has propelled them to fame seemingly overnight.

Bored Ape Collection
3. 101 Bored Ape Yacht Club,” (2021) by Yuga Labs

101 Bored Ape Yacht Club,” (2021) was sold at Sotheby’s for $24,393,000.

4. “9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757,” (2017) by Larva Labs

Price: 16,962,500 USD

Matt Hall and John Watkinson are Canadian Software developers taking the digital market by storm while operating under the pseudonym “Larva Labs“. The pair was initially inspired by the London punk scene and cyberpunk movement to embark on their own project – “CryptoPunks”. In writing their own algorithm, Larva Labs created 10,000 unique pixel icons that are characteristic of the 70s and 80s British punk rock scene. No two “Punks” are exactly alike, making some more rare than others.

CryptoPunks NFTs sell at Christie's for $16.9 million - The Verge
“9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757,” (2017)

9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757,” (2017) features highly desirable Punks including an Alien (center) and CrytoPunk 2 (top left), only the third Punk ever minted.

5. “CryptoPunk 7523,” (2017) by Larva Labs

Price: 11,754,000 USD

““CryptoPunk 7523,” (2017) is one of Larva Labs’s most sought after Punks, setting a new auction record for a single CryptoPunk. This NFT is one of 9 Alien Punks and is the only one accessorized with a mask. The rapid growth of the digital market during the COVID-19 pandemic brings more loaded symbolism to this work than the creators imagined when producing these CryptoPunks in 2017. The tradability and aesthetic design make these CryptoPunks complex collectibles as well as forms of cultural currency.

zombie cryptopunk
“9 Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757,” (2017) by Larva Labs

CryptoPunk 7523,” (2017) was sold at Sotheby’s for $11,754,000. Two additional Alien Punks sold for over $7.5 million in 2021 in private transactions.

6. “Source Code for the WWW,” (1990-1991) by Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Price: 5,434,500 USD

source code for the www
Detail from “Source Code for the WWW,” (1990-1991) by Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Source Code for the WWW,” (1990-1991) consist of files of code created in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee for the “WorldWideWeb” application. Using highly innovative technology at the time, Sir Tim changed the way information is exchanged and promoted new ways of thinking and interacting. Now in 2021, this monumental innovation is being offered as a digital artifact of one of the greatest inventions of modern times in the form of an NFT. As Sir Tim looks to the future he notes, “The web was and is constantly changing. It is not yet the best it can be: there is always work to be done!”

This piece was sold at Sotheby’s during their auction, “This Changed Everything: Source Code For Www X Tim Berners-Lee, An NFT”.

7. “CryptoPunk 9997,” (2017) by Larva Labs

Price: 4,349,387 USD

Larva Labs continued success comes with the sale of another rare CyrptoPunk known as a Zombie Punk. “CryptoPunk 9997,” (2017) is one of the last Punk’s produced out of 10,000 characters and is one of only 88 Zombie Punks. The floor price of a CryptoPunk is upwards of $260,000.

zombie punk
“CryptoPunk 9997,” (2017) by Larva Labs

CryptoPunk 9997,” (2017) was sold at Christie’s Online Auction for $4,349,387. The NFT was previously sold in February 2021 for $169,770.

8. “REPLICATOR,” (2021) by Mad Dog Jones

Price: 4,144,000 USD

REPLICATOR,” (2021) was sold by Phillips in April 2021 at their MDJ x Phillips auction. The specifications of the token’s smart contract are such that the piece continues to create new NFTs, just like a copy machine.

replicator mdj
Detail from 8. “REPLICATOR,” (2021) by Mad Dog Jones

According to Mad Dog Jones, “REPLICATOR is the story of a machine through time. It is a reflection on forms of past groundbreaking innovation and serves as a metaphor for modern technology’s continuum. I’m interested to see how collectors will respond as the work evolves and the NFTs in their possession continue to create new generations.”

9. “PEPENOPOULOS ,” (2016) by Rare Pepe

Price:  3,650,000 USD

“PEPENOPOULOS ,” (2016) by Rare Pepe was sold at Sotheby’s Metaverse “Natively Digital 1.2” auction in October 2021. According to Sotheby’s “The widely-celebrated vintage RAREPEPE NFT Series dates back as far as 2016 and contains some of the rarest NFTs known to pepekind. RAREPEPE is an absolute staple in the space, earning its very own eternal rare status among a burgeoning collective of adjacent memes and culture-setting green frog faces.”

rarepepe nft
“PEPENOPOULOS ,” (2016) by Rare Pepe

The piece is named after after Andreas M. Antonopoulos, a tech entrepreneur known for promoting the mainstream use of Bitcoin.

10. “BORED APE YACHT CLUB #8817 ,” (2021) by Yuga Labs

Price: 3,408,000 USD

BAYC Golden
“BORED APE YACHT CLUB #8817 ,” (2021) by Yuga Labs

“BORED APE YACHT CLUB #8817 ,” (2021) by Yuga Labs was sold at Sotheby’s Natively Digital 1.2 auction in October 2021. The NFT is one of the 10,000 unique “Bored Ape” cartoons on the Ethereum blockchain and is considered especially rare due to its “golden fur”.

11. “Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD,” (2021) by FEWOCiOUS

Price: 2,802,494 USD

“Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD,” (2021) by FEWOCiOUS

Nice to meet you, I’m Mr. MiSUNDERSTOOD,” (2021) has both a physical and digital component and launched the artist’s FewoWorld generative character drop. The sculpture is a hand painted, life-size character from the drop a custom acrylic case. The buyer of this physical piece also received an NFT, which includes a story about FewoWorld and gives the buyer access to exclusive NFT drops and other upcoming artworks from FEWOCiOUS.

The piece was sold at Sotheby’s at their “Physical/Digital: A Modern Diptych” auction.

12. “SELF PORTRAIT #1,” (2020) by Dmitri Cherniak

Price: 2,682,000 USD

Dmitri Cherniak is a Canadian artist and coder based in New York City. Cherniak considers automation as the primary medium for his art.

Cherniak Portrait
“SELF PORTRAIT #1,” (2020) by Dmitri Cherniak

“SELF PORTRAIT #1,” (2020) by Dmitri Cherniak was as sold at Sotheby’s Metaverse “Natively Digital 1.2” auction in October 2021.

13. “Machine Hallucinations – Space : Metaverse,” (2021) by Refik Anadol

Price: 2,348,651 USD

Refik Anadol is a Turkish-American new media artist known for creating data-driven audiovisual installations using machine learning algorithms to create abstract, otherworldly environments.

Machine Hallucinations
“Machine Hallucinations – Space : Metaverse,” (2021) by Refik Anadol

Machine Hallucinations – Space : Metaverse,” (2021) is an immersive NFT artwork exploring space exploration. The work is a 15-minute cinematic experience built upon data captured by the International Space Station and the Hubble and MRO telescopes. The piece was sold at Sotheby’s in October 2021.

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