Behind the Breakdown: The $30 Million CryptoPunks Auction That Almost Happened


Sotheby’s staged its first-ever nighttime sale just for NFTs, dubbed “Punk it!” in late February 2022. A single lot of 104 CryptoPunks was offered for auction, and it was projected to sell for between $20 million and $30 million.

With numerous activities building up to it, such as a pre-auction dinner for VIP CryptoPunk holders and an afterparty, the event garnered a lot of attention. The auction, however, took an unexpected turn when it was immediately called off without a reason.

The decision to withdraw the lot was announced by Sotheby’s, but specifics surrounding the action were not made clear. Some people conjectured that either there was little interest in the lot or the seller had received a sizable offer that was significantly less than the assessed worth.

Owners of CryptoPunk were disappointed by the cancellation since they were looking forward to a lucrative auction after a previous CryptoPunk bundle sale for $24 million. Despite the setback, Yuga Labs eventually bought CryptoPunks, bringing the project’s independence to an end.

A collection may gain institutional legitimacy by selling NFTs at reputable auction houses like Sotheby’s, which may raise the collection’s overall worth. Collectors are now able to utilize their NFTs as collateral for loans because these assets have been verified by esteemed auction houses.

Because collectors are becoming younger and more global, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have entered the NFT sector. They have broadened their selection to include things like sneakers and collectibles from popular culture. Despite wanting to enter the NFT industry, they are primarily interested in luring customers who have the resources to bid on expensive things, regardless of the category.

Despite some crypto millionaires’ interest in conventional art, there hasn’t been much interaction between NFTs and the traditional art world. According to reports, Sotheby’s backed off from embracing cryptocurrencies as a payment mechanism for recent evening sales, indicating possible difficulties in seamlessly fusing the two worlds.

Despite the postponed auction, Sotheby’s and other auction houses are probably going to keep looking into opportunities in the NFT market and making the necessary adjustments to chase new revenue streams and satisfy changing collector tastes.

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