The Crypto Punks collection is one of the most influential non-fungible token (NFT) projects in the crypto world.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the background of CryptoPunks, exploring how a simple experiment transformed into a global phenomenon. We’ll examine what makes these pixelated characters so valuable, discuss notable sales, and even touch upon the controversies surrounding the project.

Finally, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide for purchasing your very own CryptoPunk. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or new to the world of NFTs, this ultimate guide will help you navigate the exciting and dynamic realm of CryptoPunks.


When CryptoPunks first emerged, it wasn’t designed with the intention of fostering a community. Canadian software developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson, founders of Larva Labs, devised the project as an exploration in generating unique characters. The world of NFTs looked vastly different at the time, with a much smaller market.

CryptoPunks made its debut in June 2017, and the initial release of Punks NFTs was free for anyone who wanted one. However, to claim a Punk, users needed an active Ethereum wallet, which meant that only those already involved in the crypto world could participate.

As Gmoney, an influential figure in the NFT space, noted in an interview with NFT Now, the significance of CryptoPunks lies in the organic community that formed around it. Being among the first NFT projects on Ethereum and initially offered for free, CryptoPunks garnered a dedicated following. Early supporters like Pranksy, 6529, and Seedphrase understood the potential value of digital ownership and on-chain claims.

Since its inception, CryptoPunks has evolved from a niche internet trend into one of the most extensive and renowned NFT projects globally. The introduction of Meebits by Larva Labs in May 2021, sometimes called “3D CryptoPunks,” has further broadened the Punks universe and mythology.

While not the first-ever NFT project on Ethereum, CryptoPunks is indisputably one of the earliest and most impactful. Those who held onto their Punks have become millionaires, and the lucky few who acquired them before the 2021 boom and received Meebits for free are considered among the most fortunate individuals in the NFT realm.

In March 2022, Yuga Labs, the creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club, acquired both CryptoPunks and Meebits. With this move, Yuga Labs aimed to cultivate a “community of builders” focused on producing derivative works centered on these two projects.

What Are Crypto Punks?

CryptoPunks are 24×24-pixel, 8-bit-style unique avatars represented as non-fungible token (NFT) images. As highly valued pieces of art and asset tokenization, they can fetch crazy dollars on the NFT marketplace.

The collection comprises 10,000 distinct, pixelated images that portray male and female characters, as well as those resembling zombies, apes, and aliens. Each CryptoPunk can display a mix of 87 exclusive attributes, commonly referred to as “traits.” These traits, influenced by the 1970s London punk movement, consist of various accessories like hats, cigarettes, necklaces, earrings, and eyepatches.

Every CryptoPunk is unique and can be sold by individual owners or through esteemed auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, occasionally commanding astronomical prices.

What Makes CryptoPunks Valuable?

CryptoPunks have come to represent not only a potentially profitable investment but also a status symbol. Gmoney, an influential figure in the NFT space, acquired a CryptoPunk for the prestige associated with it. Displaying an NFT as an avatar on platforms like Twitter and Discord serves as a digital equivalent to flaunting a Rolex in real life.

Within the NFT community, CryptoPunk owners are often perceived as pioneers and visionaries. They are regarded as individuals who anticipated the future of NFTs and entered the market ahead of the curve. As a result, they’re accorded trust and esteem. Some collectors have even built entire personas, projects, communities, and brands centered around a single CryptoPunk NFT.

Moreover, the project’s history, closely intertwined with the Ethereum blockchain’s growth and development, suggests that owning a Punk is akin to betting on the significance of NFTs and Ethereum itself. Early CryptoPunks supporters were typically already involved in the crypto space. As Gmoney noted, “You had to be around in crypto early on to get involved with CryptoPunks.”

The Controversy

In February 2022, Larva Labs faced a challenge when a glitch was discovered in the original smart contract for CryptoPunks. As a result, they were forced to abandon the first edition and reissue the NFTs in a second edition.

The second edition featured the CryptoPunks that gained fame and value, but some first-edition Punks still circulated in the market, appreciating in worth. Larva Labs’ stance on these first-edition Punks has been inconsistent, at times asserting that they aren’t genuine CryptoPunks while simultaneously selling them.

The Most Expensive Punk Ever Sold

In February 2022, Chain CEO Deepak Thapliyal purchased CryptoPunk 5822 for a staggering 8,000 ETH, equivalent to $23.7 million at the time. This digital avatar, adorned with a blue bandana, belongs to the highly sought-after alien category – one of the rarest among CryptoPunks. Only 0.09% of Punks possess this attribute, and unique features like this significantly boost an avatar’s value.

How to Buy a Punk

To buy an NFT on an NFT marketplace, you’ll first need to create a cryptocurrency wallet, such as MetaMask. This wallet is a unique address on the blockchain that’s publicly visible, but only you have access to it.

After setting up your wallet, you’ll need to acquire Ether (ETH). You can either purchase the token through the wallet’s provided service or transfer Ether you already own from an exchange, like Coinbase, to your wallet address.

Ensure that your wallet is configured to work with your web browser by using its extension.

Once you have Ether at your disposal, you’re ready to buy a CryptoPunk. You can browse CryptoPunks for sale on Larva Lab’s website. When you come across a CryptoPunk you want to purchase, click on it and then select the “buy” button on its page. Your browser will prompt you to connect your wallet and confirm the transaction.

After confirming the transaction, the Ether will be transferred to the seller, and the NFT will appear in your wallet.


CryptoPunks have undeniably left an indelible mark on the NFT landscape. As one of the earliest and most influential NFT projects, they have shaped the way we perceive digital art, asset tokenization, and the potential of blockchain technology. From humble beginnings as a niche internet fad, CryptoPunks have grown into a global sensation, capturing the attention of collectors, celebrities, and investors alike.

While their value and popularity continue to soar, it is important to remember the pioneering spirit that drove the project’s creation and how it has paved the way for countless other NFT endeavors. As you venture into the world of CryptoPunks, bear in mind the historical significance, cultural impact, and potential risks associated with this unique and innovative form of digital art. Happy collecting!