What Are CryptoPunks: Key Reasons Why They Are So Expensive & Popular in 2023

CryptoPunks is a creative project of Larva Labs and one of the most popular NFT marketplaces today. 10,000 unique 24×24 pixel images sell for millions of dollars. The project was launched in 2017, and until 2021 its economy developed with varying degrees of success. But now, amid the general popularity of NFT, the site has attracted the attention of prominent venture capitalists, famous YouTubers, poker stars, business leaders, and companies from Silicon Valley. 

Today, we will tell you what СrуptoPunks are, how they appeared, why they are so popular. Let’s get started!

CryptoPunks Project History 

Larva Labs was founded by two software technologists Matt Hall and John Watkinson. Developers were interested in everything that could change the perception of digital art, including blockchain art projects and games. 

CryptoPunks started out as an experiment. In 2017, Matt and John created a program that generates thousands of different weird-looking characters. At first, they thought of it as a smartphone game but ended up with a model that turned the concept of ownership upside down. Larva Labs launched СrуptoPunks on June 23, 2017. 

Features of Characters from the Collection: 


      • Number: 10,000. 
      • Characters: 6039 men and 3840 women. 
      • The size of each pic: 24×24 pixels. 
      • Color mode: 8 bit. 
      • Each character has its own appearance and a unique combination of randomly generated features: hats, pigtails, pink cheeks, crooked teeth, glasses, lipsticks, moles, cigarettes, and much more. 
      • There are eight punks without distinctive features, and they are called genesis punks. 

    The London punk scene inspired developers. They wanted to reflect the rebellious spirit that reigned in the blockchain space at that time in the appearance of the characters. 

    They needed to be a collection of misfits and non-conformists.

    The 1970s London punk movement was aesthetically perfect. The dystopian grit of cyberpunk, as typified by the film Blade Runner and William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer also influenced the collection. 

    Matt Hall and John Watkinson have performed at various venues in connection with their work, including Harvard Business School, Harvard University Research Center, MIT Media Lab, Art Basel Miami, Stanford Law School, Christie’s London, The NY Tech Meetup. The creators have partnered with such giants as Google and Microsoft.


    CryptoPunk Example

    How Do CryptoPunks Work?

    The collection of 10 thousand characters created by Larva Labs is set in stone. With all their might, even the developers will not be able to make any adjustments to it. The creators propose considering the project as a major conceptual work, the first of its kind, combining digital art, ownership rights, and an offline registration mechanism. 

    Some punks are more common, and others are rare ones. There are zombie punks with green skin, hairy monkeys, or blue aliens among ordinary human beings. There are very few of them compared to human beings, so they are highly valued. Such characters may also have accessories (pipes, etc.). 

    Larva Labs: 

    The core of the idea was that every character should be unique. The advantage of generative art is that the process, once set in motion, can produce results that are even surprising to us. We ran the generator hundreds of times, reviewed the results, and made adjustments. Then, with little fanfare, we ran it one last time, linked it to the Ethereum smart contract that we deployed, after which the CryptoPunks were completely set in stone.

    On the site, there is a large collage of all 10,000 CryptoPunks. If you zoom it up, then you can take a closer look at the characters of interest. Each of them also has a separate page describing its unique features. In particular, it indicates how many more characters have the same accessories and what transactions were made with this NFT. 


        • Blue background: the character is not for sale and has no current bids. 
        • Red background: the CryptoPunk is available for sale by its owner. 
        • Purple background: the character has an active bid on it.
        • Green background: the CryptoPunk is ‘wrapped’ for sale on ERC-721 markets.


      Recent CryptoPunks Transactions

      Where to Buy and Store CryptoPuncks?

      Only one user can officially own an NFT. The ownership is described in the contract code on the public Ethereum blockchain. The ownership history of each piece of art is also tracked and recorded on the blockchain. The system is sometimes compared to a tangible work of art being permanently leased to a public museum. It served as the inspiration for the widely sought-after ERC-721 standard, among other things, laying the foundation for today’s NFT market. 

      It is impossible not to notice that some punks are worth tens of thousands of dollars while others are worth millions. This is determined by the market itself, given the rarity of certain design attributes and personal aesthetic perception. The most common attribute is earrings, and the rarest is a beanie hat. Accordingly, prices for punks with such accessories will differ significantly. Some attributes randomly gain market momentum — for example, hoodie punks have been popular for several weeks. 


      Most Recent Hoodie CryptoPunks Sales

      Obviously, this is a very speculative market, but on the whole, it is quite fair. It is believed that it is based on some of its own mathematics, which no one has calculated yet.

      CryptoPanks operate on the Ethereum blockchain. To buy these NFTs, you need an ERC-20 wallet. For example, Trust Wallet, Metamask, MathWallet. CryptoPunks in their original format can only be purchased on Larva Labs’ own marketplace. They are also for sale on the OrenSea platform but in a ‘wrapped’ form (ERC-721 tokens). Using the service, you can convert ERC-721 back to ERC-20.


      The creators of CryptoPunks themselves did not plan such a development, but today they have to work on NFT full time. Of course, they cannot make changes to smart contracts, but they constantly improve the marketplace on the platform and communicate with users in the Discord group. 

      Watkinson said they just want to explore the technical feasibility and not do deals with the NBA or anything like that. In addition, the developers are launching new projects — one of the latest is a set of 20,000 unique animated 3D avatars called Meebits. Unlike CryptoPunks, Мeebits are originally ERC-721 tokens (at the time of СrуptoPunks creation, this standard simply did not exist).

      What is the best CryptoPunk? Feel free to share your favorite ones in the comments!

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