15 Most Expensive NFTs Ever Sold & Their Stories

NFTs have caught the interest of a diverse online community. Despite being a complex concept that is often overlooked, it has brought together an intriguing mix of people; NFTs have led to interesting stories – especially when examining the purchases of the priciest NFTs to date!

1. Beeples’ “Everydays, the First 5000 Days” –  $69.3 million

Michael Joseph Winkelmann, professionally known as Beeple, is likely the most well known digital artist and holds the record for selling this piece at Christie’s.

The 21,069 x 21,069 pixelated piece was started on May 1, 2007 and consists of 5,000 consecutive digital images, a project spanning approximately 14 years, with each piece meticulously crafted on a daily basis and then assembled together. 

Till this day, Beeple continues to craft and share engaging art in the form of: merging politics, society, and pop culture on his social media.

2. Paks’ “Clock” – $52.7 million

This piece is based on Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who is currently in jail for carrying out one of the largest leaks of U.S. classified information. The most notable leaks were pertaining to classified U.S. military documents related to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was extremely controversial and sparked debates about the ethics of leaking sensitive information as well as the debate regarding government secrecy/transparency. 

The piece was purchased by AssangeDAO, a group with over 10,000 members, who are in favor of his freedom; they managed to pull this off using its token, $JUSTICE. The actual NFT itself simply counts the number of days Assange has spent in prison. 

Pak, the actual artist behind the work, partnered with AssangeDAO, with the goal of raising money in order to help fund Assange’s legal defense – as he faces the potential for up to 175 years in prison. 

Pak is also very controversial, as the artist has remained anonymous throughout their career – even going as far as using voice changes during interviews. 

While both the artist and what the piece pertains to are quite tendentious, the piece is still technically considered to be a single NFT sale even though the money was pooled together through a decentralized autonomous organization

3. Beeples’ “HUMAN ONE” – $28.9 million  

Beeple again made headlines for selling a $28.9 million piece at Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale. HUMAN ONE is a kinetic video sculpture, accompanied by a dynamic NFT, that continually evolves its displayed artwork. Beeple retains remote creative control over the piece indefinitely.

This moving video sculpture spans over 7-feet high and is accompanied with an NFT that lives on the Ethereum blockchain. The piece displays a solitary astronaut, dressed in shimmering silver attire with what seems like a space helmet, embarking on a resolute journey across ever-changing landscapes projected onto the four walls of its compact enclosure.

This concept of ever changing or dynamic art is something even art fanatics are unfamiliar with. How much the piece or any of these pieces are actually worth is purely based on what someone is willing to pay for it. 

One aspect that has come increasingly clear in this space – is Beeple’s solidified position as the top NFT artist. At the end of the day, the concept is unique and the Switzerland based winner of the bid will likely have an ongoing relationship with Beeple as he modifies the piece. At present the background is randomly selected from a data pool of video clips set by Beeple. 

4. Larva Labs’ “CryptoPunk #3100” – $7.67 million

Larva Labs, the creators behind the iconic Cryptopunks collection, witnessed a remarkable surge in both fame and value in 2021, with many attributing Cryptopunks to fueling the NFT bull run back in that year.

This distinctive collection comprises 10,000 randomly generated NFTs, originally conceived as an experimental venture. It’s no stranger to commanding top-dollar prices, as several other Cryptopunks will soon appear in this list. For more information about the collection and the creators, you can find that article here

CryptoPunk 3100, with its distinctive blue and white headband, is one of just nine alien punks, sharing a single attribute with 333 others among the 10,000 punks.

Initially purchased for a mere $2,127 in July 2017, CryptoPunk 3100 fetched an astonishing $7.67 million in March 2021, coinciding with NFT bull run.

5. Larva Labs’ “CryptoPunk #7804” – $7.57 million

CryptoPunk 7804’s sale back in March 2021 made history, setting a new industry record at $7.57 million, earning it the nickname “digital Mona Lisa.” This rare NFT, again being one of nine alien CryptoPunks, boasts three unique attributes – including a cap, shades, and a pipe, making it stand out. However, its reign atop the NFT sales charts was short-lived. 

Adding to the uniqueness of this sale is the reputable buyer, Dylan Field, a prominent entrepreneur known for being the co-founder of Figma, a web-based vector graphic editing software acquired by Adobe.

Notably, other high-profile figures, including the celebrated musician Snoop Dogg, make appearances on this list. 

6. XCOPY’ “Right-click and Save As guy” – 7.22 million

XCOPY, is an anonymous, London-based artist renowned for his exploration of themes like death, dystopia, and indifference through warped visual loops, has successfully made a name within the NFT space and gained rapid popularity.

He has become one of the most renowned artists, recognized for his consistently high-selling pieces, often adorned with vivid and captivating imagery.

With a touch of humor, the term “Right-click and Save As guy” serves as a playful jab at those who question the value of crypto art. While it’s true the artwork can technically be saved, you can read our dedicated article where we debunk this argument – thanks to blockchain technology. 

Enhancing the significance of this sale is none other than Snoop Dogg, the iconic musician and cultural icon, who owns this satire NFT. Notably, Snoop Dogg is no newcomer to the world of NFTs, having made substantial investments, including the acquisition of another XCOPY piece, for an impressive sum of around four million dollars.

7. Beeples’ “CROSSROADS’ – $6.6 million

“CROSSROADS” made its debut on Nifty Gateway, an NFT marketplace akin to OpenSea, back in 2020. Beeple designed this piece as a response to the 2020 presidential election, offering two videos—one depicting a triumphant Trump and the other a despondent one—based on the election’s outcome.

The ten second video clip depicts a naked, vandalized Donald Trump lying facedown on grass with a blue bird landing on him and featuring a clown emoji. 

In keeping with Beeple’s signature style, this NFT, like many of his other pieces, delves deep into the heart of contemporary events and pressing societal issues. Through his distinctive digital medium, Beeple skillfully evokes a spectrum of emotions including a sense of perplexity.

8. Ross Ulbricht’ “Perspective” – $6.2 million 

Number eight on the list might be seen as even more contentious than Pak’s Clock, as they share striking similarities. The key commonalities lie in both NFTs being acquired through a DAO and the funds being earmarked to cover legal expenses in the ongoing battle against the judicial system, with the aim of reducing sentence duration.

Ross Ulbricht, an American currently serving a life sentence, gained notoriety for his role in creating and operating the darknet marketplace Silk Road from 2011 until his arrest in 2013. 

The Silk Road name drew inspiration from the historic Asian trade route, and Ulbricht’s website became a vast network in its own right that unfortunately was largely used for the sales of illegal goods. 

Notably, Bitcoin was the sole medium of exchange on this platform; Ross’s groundbreaking vision didn’t go unnoticed within the Bitcoin community, as many acknowledged his original contribution as a catalyst for the broader adoption of Bitcoin.

The ‘Perspective‘ NFT, is a remarkable graphite pencil drawing crafted by Ulbricht during his incarceration. This particular NFT found its new home with ‘FreeRossDAO,’ a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) passionately committed to securing Ulbricht’s release from prison. 

Following the successful DAO auction, the NFT is set to be fractionalized into what they’re calling ‘ROSS tokens.’ These tokens will be distributed via a pro-rata model.

9. XCOPY’s “All Time High In the City” – $6.2 million 

XCOPY is a name that has seen no shortage of this list, and rightfully so, as this NFT artist has been a prominent figure in the space since its early days. Notably, this XCOPY’s creation dates back to November 16, 2018.


Initially, this piece fetched a substantial sum in the low thousands before astonishingly reselling for a staggering 3 million in 2019. However, it wasn’t until 2022 that this artwork commanded a jaw-dropping price tag of 6.2 million dollars, solidifying its spot on this list. 

The artwork itself offers a captivating depiction, featuring a skull-like figure rowing a boat across a vividly haunting landscape resembling a red inferno-like lake. 

What sets this piece apart and has ignited an ongoing debate within the NFT community is its value, or lack thereof, when it comes to utility. This one-of-one creation, possesses no practical utility, bringing to the forefront a critical discussion about the intrinsic value of NFTs versus their artistic merit.

In my view, only a select few NFT artists possess the capability to command premium prices without the inclusion of utility – e.g. tangible real-world assets alongside their NFTs. Nonetheless, certain NFT artists have attained a level of prestige wherein their creations are perpetually revered.

10. XCOPY’s “A Coin for the Ferryman” – 6.03 million  

Once again, XCOPY’s portfolio takes us back to an early creation from 2018. However, and once more, it wasn’t until the latter part of 2021 that this artwork fetched a staggering sum, soaring just north of 6 million dollars. 

To put things into perspective, this piece originally sold for a mere $140 at the time of its minting in 2018. With royalties factored in at an estimated 10% rate for secondary sales, the artist is estimated to have received upwards of $600,000 from these subsequent transactions. 

Royalties stand as a pivotal facet smart contracts bring to the NFT landscape, differentiating NFTs from traditional art by providing unprecedented revenue streams for artists. 

Tragically, many artists have achieved immense success only to pass away before their work garners the recognition and price tags they had aspired to attain. 

It’s worth noting that, in my personal perspective, the artwork’s animation unfolds at an exceptionally rapid pace, which can pose a challenge for viewers. Please be aware that the image provided above is a static screenshot, and the animation isn’t active. You can explore the animation on SuperRare through the link provided here

11. Beeples’ “Ocean Front” – 6 million 

Once again, Beeple has graced the headlines, this time with the captivating sale of “Ocean Front” for a staggering $6 million, all in the name of a noble cause. The proceeds from this astounding sale were generously channeled towards the OpenEarth Foundation, a non-profit organization rooted in California. This innovative foundation leverages cutting-edge technologies to automate responses to planetary threats – which in turn hopes to contribute to a safer and more sustainable world.

The acquisition of this exceptional artwork was orchestrated by none other than Justin Sun, the enigmatic and, at times, controversial figure behind TRON ($TRX), a cryptocurrency that has consistently maintained its position among the top 10 in market capitalization.

To delve deeper into Justin Sun’s background, TRON, and the controversies surrounding him, you can explore our detailed article linked here.

Personally, I’m captivated by the sheer aesthetics of “Ocean Front,” with its watercolor-like portrayal of the sky as the backdrop. The content of the artwork is equally captivating, sparking conversations about the future of our planet. The central piece appears to depict what might be construed as a home on stilts and is interwoven with elements of old transportation infrastructure. 

12. Edward Snowden’s “Stay Free” – $5.59 million

Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor with a background at the National Security Agency (NSA), catapulted into the public eye and stirred widespread controversy by unveiling the extensive surveillance programs conducted by the NSA. He leaked documents which shed light on programs such as PRISM, exposing the NSA’s capability to access user data stored by major tech companies.

The classified documents he leaked to the press caused the American Civil Liberties Union – which is an organization with the purpose of preserving individuals rights – to get involved. The case ultimately declared the NSA surveillance program to be unconstitutional. Snowden is thought to be the genesis for this. 

His actions lead to a global debate regarding government surveillance; some see him as a hero for exposing government activity while others consider him to be a criminal for revealing classified information. With disputes up in the air, Snowden flew to Russia where he was granted asylum. 

The NFT features an image of Snowden striking a contemplative Rodin statue pose, with his hand on his chin. Crafted from the pages of the US appeals court decision, the artwork was acquired by a mysterious DAO named “PleasrDAO,” characterized by limited public information except for its collective financial contribution to secure the piece. 

Proceeds from the NFT sale were directed to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an organization led by Snowden as its president. This non-profit “protects, defends, and empowers public-interest journalism in the 21st century.”

13. Jack Dorsey’s “First ever published tweet” – $2.9 million

Jack Dorsey, the former co-founder and CEO of Twitter (now X), made headlines when he sold his inaugural tweet as an NFT. This historic tweet, which read, “just setting up my twttr,” was originally posted on March 21, 2006. 

Interestingly, the NFT was almost acquired by Justin Sun, the controversial founder of TRON, but ultimately found its new owner in Sina Estavi, the CEO of Bridge Oracle, a blockchain service. 

The funds from this transaction were converted to BTC and generously donated to GiveDirectly, a charity dedicated to aiding African families grappling with extreme poverty.

Although the tweet itself continues to exist on Twitter for all to see, the verified owner on the blockchain is Sina Estavi. Jack Dorsey has consistently expressed his faith in blockchain technology and remains a staunch advocate for its advancement. 

Notably, as the founder of Block, Inc, the entity behind Square—a compact, square-shaped device enabling card payments—Dorsey has played a pivotal role in the company’s journey. 

Square went public on November 19, 2015, and in the years following, the company demonstrated its commitment to cryptocurrency by acquiring 50 million bitcoin in 2020 and an additional 170 million in 2021.

14. Larva Labs’ “CryptoPunk #6965” – $1.6 million

CryptoPunks are often hailed as historic NFTs, credited with kickstarting the 2021 bull run. Yuga Labs, the minds behind the immensely popular Bored Ape NFTs, acquired the IP rights to this collection in March of 2022. 

That being said, Larva Labs made their mark by pioneering the concept of NFT collections through random generation. Among these, a noteworthy CryptoPunk is #6965 – one of only 24 ape punks distinguished by their distinctive fedora accessory.

15. Axie Infinity’s “Genesis Plot” – $1.5 million

Axie Infinity stands as an innovative blockchain-based game seamlessly integrating various elements of the broader blockchain ecosystem, including NFTs and cryptocurrencies. 

Within this digital realm, players engage in the training of Axies, adorable creatures reminiscent of Pokemon, all in pursuit of the game’s native cryptocurrency, SLP. This unique digital currency can be traded on decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges for various cryptocurrencies, including stablecoins, the crypto equivalent of the US dollar.

Axie Infinity was originally created back in 2018, and gained substantial traction in early 2021, driven by its innovative play-to-earn capabilities and compelling use of NFTs. The game eventually saw a large drop in players due to reasons discussed in this YouTube video

In this virtual landscape, the concept of land holds a striking resemblance to our physical world, where prime locations command higher value. This particular plot of virtual land mirrors the real estate market, selling for a premium due to its strategic location within the game. At the time of sale, this NFT was the most expensive ever sold. 

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As a passionate enthusiast of blockchain technology and its intersection with finance, I eagerly ventured into the captivating realm of cryptocurrencies in 2019. Fueled by my curiosity for the financial landscape shaped by this innovative technology, I find great satisfaction in creating content about this ever progressing terrain. For more information about me and NFT explained, click on the "About Us" page.

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