The NFL’s flashiest training camp arrivals this summer didn’t come with Porsches, or even McLarens. Instead, they showed up with pieces of computer-generated, cartoon images currently worth more than most sports cars, riding an NFT wave to cryptocelebrity.
There are 10,000 CryptoPunks out there, each a 24 pixel by 24 pixel avatar with a unique collection of traits. To see an example, head to Odell Beckham Jr.’s Twitter page. The Punk he owns, #3365, is currently set as his profile picture. CryptoPunks launched in 2017 as one of the first projects built using non-fungible token (NFT) technology on the blockchain, but they reached new heights this year. Over the last 30 days, nearly $700 million worth of CryptoPunks have been bought and sold, with an average price of more than $250,000.
One of the few NFT projects to match CryptoPunks in terms of dollars or buzz is Bored Ape Yacht Club, an online community built around 10,000 unique drawings of primates that launched in April. Want to see one? On Twitter, Steph Curry is currently displaying his, which he recently bought for a reported $180,000. After he purchased it, he sent a selfie in the BAYC Discord chat. NBA players LaMelo Ball and Josh Hart have also been known to frequent the Discord. In addition to an invite for the exclusive group chat, ape owners have gotten bonus NFTs and the ability to commercialize their unique images. They have also reveled in being early adopters of something entirely new. Attempting to explain the phenomenon to his audience at The New Yorker, Kyle Chayka described BAYC as “a strange combination of gated online community, stock-shareholding group, and art-appreciation society.”
Denver Broncos captain Von Miller has also changed his Twitter picture to his ape, which fittingly wears a cowboy hat. On Wednesday, Ravens corner Marlon Humphrey became the latest to join the club, paying over $150,000 for an ape NFT that sold for less than $10,000 in July.
Meanwhile, keen-eyed collectors have noticed that one ape buyer shares a username with Kevin Durant. However, Durant representatives declined to comment on his crypto activities. The Nets star also didn’t respond on Twitter to Ros Gold-Onwude, a host for Durant-created media network Boardroom who has an ape avatar herself, when she asked about his potential holdings. But even if Durant hasn’t bought in, he’s supported the trend by investing in OpenSea, the NFT marketplace facilitating a bulk of the buzzy transactions.
Beckham has been more open, going on crypto podcast UpOnly to explain his purchase. “The world is evolving, and I’m seeing that this is where to be, this is the space,” he said on the show. ”I feel like if you don’t get with this world, then you’ll kind of get lost, and you’ll get left behind.”
Seeking to keep up, last week he tweeted, “What other NFT projects should I b lookin at??,” garnering over 7,000 replies. Among them were pitches for digital cats, AR bonsai trees, generative masks and Money Stacks, which advertises itself as, “digital pictures of physical money that you can buy with Ethereum.”