Are CryptoPunks avant-garde art? Yuga Labs believes this to be the case and intends to cement their historical legacy by placing Ethereum PFPs in art institutions.
Yuga Labs has devised a scheme to donate CryptoPunks NFTs to modern art museums worldwide, beginning with Punk #305. The Ethereum NFT is being donated to the free-admission Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, where it will be on display after a special unveiling event on December 2 during Art Basel.
The number 305 was chosen for Punk #305 in part because it is one of Miami’s phone area codes. Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano, who helped start Yuga and are also known as Gordon Goner and Garga as part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, are both from Miami.
It’s the first donation for the Punks Legacy Project, which is a bigger plan. Noah Davis, who is in charge of Yuga’s CryptoPunks brand, told that in the future “several more” of the NFTs will be given to other museums.
“It’s not about a certain number of Punks, but rather about finding museums and legacy art organizations that want to enter into Web3 for the right reasons,” said Davis. “Quality over quantity.”
Skeptics of NFTs might see these works as nothing more than pixels on a digital canvas, but CryptoPunks have had a big impact on the Web3 community by setting the standard for tokenized profile picture (PFP) projects. In 2017, Larva Labs started the project with 10,000 pixel faces, each with a different set of traits and features that were chosen at random.
Yuga Labs, the company that made Bored Ape Yacht Club, bought the IP from Larva Labs in March. Soon after, they hired Davis, who used to work at auction house Christie’s, to oversee their future and help them become known as NFT artwork. Davis thinks that the Punks are works of art in and of themselves, not just important pieces of history.
“CryptoPunks are contemporary art. They belong in museums,” Davis said in a statement, calling the NFTs “equal parts art, graphic design, technology, and radical communal experiment.”
legacy of Punks
Data from CryptoSlam shows that since CryptoPunks were released in 2017 with a free mint, they have been traded for more than $2.4 billion. At the moment, it costs at least 64.5 ETH, or $81,200, to buy one Punk. The most expensive Punk ever sold cost 8,000 ETH, or $23.7 million, when it sold in February.
Punks are the perfect example of a PFP avatar NFT, which a lot of people use as their profile picture on social networks. Many Punk owners see their Punk as an important part of their online brand, and some have built up large social media followings based on their Punk’s face and number.
One great example of this is the pseudonym Punk #6529, who used their identity to start a venture capital firm called 6529 Capital. Another example is 4156, who helped make the Nouns NFT project and built his identity around his Punk. In December 2021, he sold the Nouns NFT for more than $10 million worth of ETH.
Another standout is the pseudonymous NFT trader gmoney. He told that he has owned his CryptoPunk since January 2021. He bought it with about $170,000 worth of ETH. He has said that it is like wearing a Rolex, but digitally.
Although gmoney’s Punk is a significant part of his online persona, he stated that it is not everything. “Yes, I could be gmoney without my Punk,” he told. “I think people follow me [because] of my thoughts around NFTs, and not just my PFP.”
Many owners have a personal connection to their CryptoPunks, but Yuga Labs is interested on establishing the art world credentials and historical story for the Ethereum NFTs on a bigger scale. It is a crucial distinction between the Punks and Yuga’s Bored Apes, as the company now manages both groups.
“The communities are very distinct, but there’s a shared love of the underlying technology,” Yuga’s Solano told. “Both communities want to explore, in different ways, what it means to truly own a digital asset.”