Since their creation in 2014, NFTs have become the prime topic for anyone interested in the crypto or tech world. Artists all around the world jumped to the conclusion that this is the way to go forward. Some of those have made an incredible amount of money by creating and selling NFTs. You can buy an NFT for as low as $1 or some go as high as 6.6 million dollars. Though this is not the most someone has paid for an NFT, and in this article, we want to discuss the most expensive NFT art.
Enter – the Merge Collection by Pak. This project consists of many NFTs, which are counted in masses, because they represent masses of simple white spheres on black background. However, the more masses you acquire, minding that they all combine in your wallet under one NFT, the larger that your sphere becomes. This is to ensure that token supply decreases over time.
What kind of person comes up with the idea of selling NFTs of a constantly growing white sphere?
The creator behind Merge is Pak, formerly known as Murat Pak. This, quite literally, is everything known about the artist themselves. Many consider them to be a collective, unsure of the true identity of the creator. This is because, intentionally, the creator of the expensive NFT Merge have kept their identity very secretive.
Artists like Federico Clapis and Paris Hilton took to Twitter to post “I am Pak”, which resulted in everyone around Pak tweeting the same. Even if you wanted to assume that one of all those people is Pak themselves, how could one know for sure? What little known there is about Pak is that they are the founder and lead designer of a studio called Undream. They have created numerous and successfully sold abstract NFTs of various geometric shapes, produced visually to please the eye.
I am @muratpak.— ParisHilton (@ParisHilton) March 28, 2022
As of mid 2021, Pak have sold a total of 1,691 works, worth $17,536,770.67 altogether. These are both unique numbers for a digital artist in the early stages of the NFT boom. But they didn’t include what came to be Pak’s biggest success yet, namely, Merge. On top of that, Sotheby’s, one of the world leading art broker companies, decided to launch their first NFT auction in collaboration with Pak.
Pak shared that they wanted to attract new collectors and to spread the word that “NFTs are more than just JPEGs”. They came up with the Merge project, which in theory might sound complicated, but is rather fun and we’ll summarize it here. The Merge NFTs represent white spheres on a black background. They vary in size because each sphere has a different mass. Each NFT represents one mass. If you accumulate two NFTs, however, they will combine in your wallet under one NFT. Or if you already have a sphere with 5 mass (m) in your wallet, and you buy another 1 (m), then that 1(m) will be added to your current NFT, the 1(m) will be burnt and you’ll have an NFT of a larger sphere with 6(m).
The idea is that Merge is supposed to be one NFT, scattered into smaller masses. What the collectors are accumulating are those masses and trying to piece them back together. So, in essence, the collectors are a community of people, trying to piece a big puzzle together, which became the most expensive NFT ever. Pak believe Merge to be a single artwork distributed among many NFTs, and not just a collection of artworks.
The sale of Merge launched on 2nd December 2021 until 4th December 2021. The collection was sold on Nifty Gateway, which is a digital art online auction platform, selling primarily NFTs. When it first launched, it was just open as early access, with prices set at $299. Just half an hour after, when the public access was released, the prices jumped to $400. The prices for the most expensive NFT ever kept increasing by $25 every six hours and the final price it was ever sold for was $575.
Naturally, a collector would want to acquire as many assets from a dedicated collection as possible. When someone began collecting Merge tokens, they didn’t necessarily want to own one mass to be part of the project. They would aim to collect as many mass tokens as they could afford to accumulate a larger sphere NFT. There was even a ranking list of people who owned the most masses but were kept anonymous. In just 48 hours since the release of the collection, the most expensive NFT art sold a total of 312,686 NFTs. A whopping $91.8 mil. were paid into the project by 28,983 collectors.
The Merge collection by Pak beat any NFT competition in the rankings with its sale of $91.8 mil. Nowadays, it’s no longer a surprise that people would pay such an amount to own a digital piece of art, which only belongs to them. Tech-related news have always reported major sales of even celebrities joining in the hype to buy some of the most expensive NFTs. Granted, some of those include exclusive membership perks like member-only parties. There are many other NFTs which sold for millions, all beautifully crafted in their own way. Following, some of the top selling NFTs.
Before Merge by Pak took the first place, The First 5000 Days was leading as the most expensive NFT. The First 5000 Days is an NFT collage of 5000 different NFTs created by digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple. Truly astonishing, they are all different from each other. Beeple was inspired to create The First 5000 Days by British artist Tom Judd. Judd had the idea to create new art daily, which is exactly what Beeple did with this NFT collage. He started creating his NFTs on 1st May 2007. The completion date of this massive project was 21st February 2021, exactly 5,045 days later. Across the artworks we can see pop stars like Michael Jackson, politicians like Donald Trump, and others like Jeff Bezos.
There are different designs used, with some of the earlier artwork produced by hand and moving to digital artwork later in the project’s timeline. All NFTs are arranged chronologically, following their creation period. For example, there is an NFT of an astronaut reaching out to a flower, dystopian depictions of various cities, horrific depictions of characters from classic children movies, and many more stunning digital art pieces. Combining all 5000 of those in a single large collage made Beeple’s work one of the top selling NFTs. This NFT was sold in 2021 at Christie’s, a British auction house, for $69.3 mil.
Following Merge and The First 5000 Days, Clock takes the third spot. The expensive NFT Clock, created by digital artist Pak, is counting the days of Julian Assange’s time in prison in the UK. Currently, the NFT represents the words One Thousand Five Hundred Forty Eight in white block font on black background. Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, a website which publishes news leaks and classified documents and media from anonymous sources. In 2010, the website leaked important documents related to US Army Intelligence and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among many other important documents. Many countries wanted to extradite him to Sweden, where he was charged with sexual assault allegations or to the USA, which documents of high importance Julian Assange’s website had leaked to the public.
Julian Assange’s legal defense team have been fighting against any charges/extradiction attempts. This is where 10,000 people group together to create AssangeDAO, decentralized autonomous organization, which purchased the NFT Clock for 52.7 million dollars. This was aimed to raise funds for the Wau Holland Foundation, which supports Julian Assange’s defence. This NFT is a general example of how much social impact can be created through digital art and the power in NFTs.
The fourth position of most expensive NFTs ever sold is Human One. The Top four most expensive NFTs to be ever sold are currently made by the two most famous digital artists, Pak and Beeple. Interestingly enough, when Beeple, pseudonym of Mike Winkelmann, was first introduced to NFTs, he reached out to Pak for a one-to-one explanation of the concept. Both quickly became the most respected digital artists, and it should come as no surprise that number four, like number two, is taken by Beeple’s NFT Human One. This NFT art piece was sold on 9th November 2021 as part of Christie’s 21st Century Evening Sale.
introducing HUMAN ONE pic.twitter.com/eysmH6WkOY— beeple (@beeple) October 28, 2021
The artwork was sold for 28.9 million dollars and whilst Beeple no longer has ownership over his artwork, he still has remote access to it. The idea is that he can develop the piece over the course of his lifetime whenever and however he wishes to. The piece itself represents a walking astronaut through different backgrounds, which Beeple can, has and will continue to change over time. Human One, however, is not only a digital NFT, but is a digital/physical hybrid. This is because the NFT is represented on a box of four video screens, creating a mesmerizing effect in any angle that one can look from.
NFTs are part of the Web3 movement, which is the future we are many are striving for. Non-Fungible Tokens are not just about the most expensive NFT art pieces. NFTs hold the potential to solve many challenges that we, in our current world, face to show authenticity and verify ownership over a physical object. NFTs are encrypted within blockchains, which makes them very secure and hard to tamper with. Having ownership over such a medium is better than, for example, a piece of paper which can be lost, stolen, destroyed, copied and even edited. One way that NFTs are already put to use for such matters is through BlockBar.
BlockBar is a platform aimed at liquor collectors. You can buy an NFT of various limited collection bottles for as little as $150 (as of current marketplace) or more than $2,500. It depends on the whisky brand, collaboration, type of bottle and so on. But what BlockBar is aiming to resolve is the challenge of acquiring such a bottle in the first place. You’d have to find a seller, have it shipped to you, then carefully showcase or keep the fragile glass bottle intact. BlockBar stores the bottle for you, until you decide to claim it and drink it yourself. Otherwise, you can just sell the NFT to someone else and the bottle becomes theirs.
There are also restaurants like the New York-based restaurant Flyfish Club which offers memberships in NFT formats. One costs you $13,000 but provides you with an exclusive and unique dining experience. You can see where we are going with it. Anything can be put in NFT format to ensure easy and fast authentication. For now, NFTs are used this way. But have we fully grasped the opportunities that they hold for a better and more convenient future? Maybe we are barely scratching the surface and are yet to figure out what next is going to turn into an NFT.
Having looked at the most expensive NFT art sold nowadays, we can forget the finer details surrounding those. After all, some examples of the most expensive NFT art pieces are truly spellbinding. So, to draw us back into reality, we’ve summarized the most frequently asked questions below:
Up until 2021, the most expensive NFT to be ever sold was The First 5000 Days by digital artist Beeple. It depicts a large collection of 5000 different NFTs, which Beeple created daily from 2007 to 2021. However, in late 2021, Pak’s NFT collection Merge sold for $91.8 mil., becoming the most expensive NFT to be ever sold.
The creator of the Merge collection is the digital artist Pak. Whoever Pak is, they are quite secretive about their identity. Many people consider them to be a collective, but despite, they are an outstanding artist. As of mid 2021, they have sold a total of 1,691 works, worth $17,536,770.67 altogether.
The Merge represents a white sphere on black background. The idea is that the more NFTs one collects, which represent mass tokens, the more mass their sphere accumulates. All NFTs are combined, so that one collector can’t have more than one NFT. The creator believes it to be like a puzzle, with all collectors trying to piece it together.
Many digital artists have made millions from their NFT artworks. But they’ve also put a lot of effort and thought into their projects. There are many examples which can be of perfect influence to any artist to at least try the NFT world in means to make some profit from their artwork.
Not every minted NFT is created to be sold. NFTs can be minted and kept for yourself, they can be traded, gifted, sold and bought and even destroyed. And the future of NFTs holds much potential for them to be used in various personal ways.