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Top 10 Most Expensive NFT Artworks Ever Sold – NFTevening.com

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Get the latest creative news from FooBar about art, design and business.
While non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been around since about 2017, they caught mainstream attention only in 2021. Since early last year, NFTs have been surging in popularity, and have made their way across industries. Some of the most expensive NFTs have even sold for millions of dollars. The highest sold NFT alone fetched over $90 million. 
In fact, according to a report, total NFT sales hit $17.6 billion in 2021—over 21,000% growth compared to 2020. This isn’t really surprising given the hype and utility surrounding some of the top NFTs. This year, NFTs continue to gain prominence, despite a recent lull in sales. 
As more and more artists, celebrities, and brands drop their NFTs, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive NFTs ever sold. 
Acclaimed anonymous NFT artist, Pak’s ‘The Merge’ takes the crown as the highest sold NFT. On December 2, 2021, Pak created history by selling his artwork for a whopping $91.8 million. Actually, unlike most of the highest value NFTs, The Merge is not owned by a single collector. As a matter of fact, 28,893 collectors bought 312,686 masses (or units) of the Merge artwork. And each unit cost $575.
Dropped on the NFT marketplace, Nifty Gateway, The Merge is a “single artwork distributed across many tokens, not a collection of artworks”. In other words, it is an open edition artwork where users could buy tokens (masses or m tokens). Here’s where things get interesting. Each token serves as a unit of mass and any two tokens in a wallet merge to become one. 
Therefore, the total number of NFTs can change based on the number of collectors. And theoretically, the Merge could eventually become a 1/1 NFT.
Digital artist Michael Winkelmann, aka Beeple, had long held the record for the most expensive NFT. His artwork, Everydays: The First 5000 Days was auctioned at Christie’s for $69 million in March 2021. Interestingly, the initial bid was just $100. However, due to Beeple’s popularity in the crypto and art space, the bids skyrocketed in no time.
The artwork is a collage of Beeple’s 5,000 artworks that he created every day, starting in 2007. Thus, it comes as no surprise that an artwork that took 13 years to make, fetched such a hefty sum. A year since the auction, Everydays continues to be the most expensive NFT sold to a single collector. 
Clock was created by Pak in collaboration with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. The crypto art features a timer counting the number of days Assange has been imprisoned. Every day, the timer updates itself to reflect how long Assange has been in prison. Eventually, in February 2022, AssangeDAO, consisting of over 10,000 Assange supporters, bought the NFT for $52.7 million
The duo created the NFT to raise funds for the WikiLeaks founder’s legal defence. Assange was imprisoned by the US government in May 2019 on charges of espionage. Following the highly controversial case, he is currently imprisoned at London’s Belmarsh Prison, awaiting extradition to the US. Furthermore, AssangeDAO will donate all funds to the Wau Holland Foundation, a nonprofit that is taking donations for Assange’s legal defence.
It sure seems like Beeple and Pak are battling for top spots on the list of highest sold NFTs! Fourth on the list is Human One, a stunning kinetic video sculpture that combines both physical and digital technology. In his own words, Beeple called the piece, “the first portrait of a human born in the metaverse.”
The over 7-foot-high sculpture features a person clad in silver garb and what looks like a space helmet. A dystopian setting of changing landscapes, projected on four walls, forms its background. Christie’s auctioned the NFT for nearly $29 million in November 2021.
As one of the first-ever NFT projects in existence, several CryptoPunks have sold for jaw-dropping prices. Of this, CryptoPunk #5822 takes the top spot. It features a blue-skinned Alien, one of the only nine Alien Punks ever made. Deepak.eth, the CEO of blockchain-based technology company Chain, bought this rare NFT for around $23 million in February this year. 
Founded by software company, Larva Labs, CryptoPunks is a collection of 10,000 uniquely generated avatars. These were launched in 2017 on the Ethereum blockchain and were free for anyone with an ETH wallet to claim. Today, however, they are one of the most iconic and highly sought-after NFT projects in the market. 
Another alien CryptoPunk is the sixth most expensive NFT ever sold. Auction house Sotheby’s auctioned CryptoPunk #7523 in June 2021 as part of its iconic digital auction, Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale. It fetched $11.75 million—the highest for any CryptoPunk at the time. 
As the only Alien Punk with a medical mask, it is one of the rarest CryptoPunks in existence. It also features a rare knitted cap and an earring. 
Next on the list is TPunk #3442, which Tron CEO, Justin Sun bought for 120 million TRX or about $10.5 million (at the time) in August 2021. The NFT in question is popularly known as “Joker” due to its resemblance to the Batman villain. It is a part of the Tpunks collection, a CryptoPunk derivative project with 10,000 NFTs.
Originally, these copycat NFTs cost 1,000 TRX or $123 each to mint. However, Sun’s purchase shot up the value of TPunks, with many collectors rushing to buy the NFTs. Indeed, TPunk #3442 was the most expensive NFT sold on the Tron blockchain.
Well, the CryptoPunks have done it again! CryptoPunk #4156 is the eighth highest sold NFT. Unlike the CryptoPunks above, #4156 is an Ape type—that too, one of the only 24. Because of its rarity, this CryptoPunk has been sold several times, fetching $10.26 million in its last sale in December. Actually, just 10 months before that, it sold for $1.25 million!
Additionally, the Punk spots a Bandana, an attribute only 5% of the collection has. Besides, it only features one attribute, another rare trait only 2% of the collection enjoys. Currently, its owner has not listed the punk for sale.
Recently, in February 2022, another ape type CryptoPunk made it to the highest sold NFTs list. CryptoPunk #5577 sold for a whopping $7.7 million, making it the fourth most expensive CryptoPunk in the market. Many believe that Robert Leshner, the founder of Compound DeFi protocol, bought the NFT.
The rare NFT has a single attribute, which in itself is rare as only 2% of Punks have this. Besides, it adorns a Cowboy Hat, a trait shared by 1% of Punks.
The title of the fifth most expensive CryptoPunk NFT goes to CryptoPunk #3100. Another Alien Punk, it sold for $7.67 million about a year ago. Actually, that was the first time this particular Punk was listed for sale since it was minted in 2017. As a rare Alien Punk, it was quickly sold for a hefty sum. 
Currently, its owner has listed it for sale for $106.43 million. While over a hundred million dollars might be a bit farfetched, the Punk may very well sell for an amount much higher than its last sale. To its credit, it also features a rare headband (only 406 Punks have this) and a single attribute. 
CryptoPunk #7804 is again a rare Alien Punk, sold for $7.57 million. Actually, it sold just a day before #3100 and was the most expensive Punk at the time. However, unlike the other Alien Punks on this list, #7804 spots a number of attributes.
Firstly, it is the only Alien Punk with a Pipe. A Pipe in itself is a rare attribute, as only 317 Punks have it. Similarly, CryptoPunk #7804 features a Cap Forward, which only 254 punks have. Lastly, it also has a Small Shade. As another rare trait, only 378 punks have this. Thus, with all these features, #7804 is an incredibly valuable NFT to hold.
CryptoPunk #7804 with a pipe
Top selling crypto artist, XCOPY needs no introduction. He is famous for his dystopian and death-themed artworks. The anonymous artist sold his “Right-click and Save As Guy” NFT artwork for a staggering $7 million. The NFT was purchased by none other than Cozomo de’ Medici, one of the most acclaimed collectors in the NFT space.
The NFT piece in itself is an iconic artwork in the industry. He named it ‘Right Click And Save As Guy’ as a joke given how several people believe that NFTs can be easily right-clicked and downloaded. Created on December 6, 2018, the piece was first sold for 1 ETH or about $90 at the time. It’s only been sold twice, the second time to de’ Medici.
Created by Canadian artist and coder, Dmitri Cherniak, Ringers is one of the most expensive NFT collections on the Art Blocks platform. The collection includes 1,000 generative art NFTs made up of “strings and pegs”. Currently, even the least expensive Ringer will cost you about $88,000.
Within the collection, Ringers #109 holds the record for the highest sold NFT. Moreover, it is the most expensive NFT on the Art Blocks platform, after it sold for $6.93 million last year.
When Beeple’s Crossroad sold for $6.6 million on Nifty Gateway in February 2021, it was the highest any NFT had sold for at the time. Besides, with NFTs not yet mainstream, such expensive sales were uncommon. However, by this time, Beeple had already become quite famous in the art space. Indeed, just two months before, he sold a series of NFTs for $3.5 million. This was just the beginning of bigger things to come.
Created in response to the 2020 US presidential election, Crossroads is a 10-second video with two outcomes. If Donald Trump won, it would show a victorious Trump. However, if he lost—which he did—the artwork would play a dispirited Trump. 
Thus, the final piece shows a fallen, naked person (symbolic of Trump) lying on the streets as others pass by. Insults are also written all over the person’s body. Interestingly, the NFT sold before the election. 
While this list talks about only ten of the most expensive NFTs ever sold, several others have sold for millions of dollars. Many of these include CryptoPunks and Beeple’s other artworks. Others are ‘All Time High in the City’ by XCOPY, Edward Snowden’s Stay Free, and Bored Ape #8817, to name a few. In the coming months, we can expect more NFTs to break the current records. 
 
All investment/financial opinions expressed by NFTevening.com are not recommendations.
This article is educational material.
As always, make your own research prior to making any kind of investment.
Reethu Ravi is a journalist based in India, covering environment, sustainability, tech and innovation. When not found between the pages of a book, she can be seen catching up on the latest developments in the tech world. A naval architect-turned journalist, she loves bringing stories of change and innovation to the limelight.
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Starbucks details its blockchain-based loyalty platform and NFT community, Starbucks Odyssey – TechCrunch

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Starbucks is today officially introducing Starbucks Odyssey, launching later this year — the coffee chain’s first foray into building with web3 technology. The new experience combines the company’s successful Starbucks Rewards loyalty program with an NFT platform, allowing its customers to both earn and purchase digital assets that unlock exclusive experiences and rewards.
The company had earlier teased its web3 plans to investors, saying it believed this new experience would build on the current Starbucks Rewards model where customers today earn “stars” which can be exchanged for perks, like free drinks. It envisions Starbucks Odyssey as a way for its most loyal customers to earn a broader set of rewards while also building community.
To develop the project, Starbucks brought in Adam Brotman, the architect of its Mobile Order & Pay system and the Starbucks app, to help serve as a special advisor. Now the co-founder of Forum3, a web3 loyalty startup, Brotman’s team worked on Starbucks Odyssey alongside the Seattle coffee chain’s own marketing, loyalty and technology teams.
While Starbucks had been investigating blockchain technologies for a couple of years, it has only been involved in this particular project for around six months, Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer told TechCrunch. He says the company wanted to invest in this area, but not as a “stunt” side project, as many companies are doing. Rather, it wanted to find a way to use the technology to enhance its business and expand its existing loyalty program.
It opted to make NFTs the passes that allow access to this digital community, but it’s intentionally obscuring the nature of the technology underpinning the experience in order to bring in more consumers — including non-technical people — to the web3 platform.
“It happens to be built on blockchain and web3 technologies, but the customer — to be honest — may very well not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain technology. It’s just the enabler,” Brewer explains.
To engage with the Starbucks Odyssey experience, Starbucks Rewards members will log in to the web app using their existing loyalty program credentials.
Once there, they’ll be able to engage with various activities, which Starbucks called “journeys” — like playing interactive games or taking on challenges designed to deepen their knowledge of the Starbucks brand or coffee in general. As they complete these journeys, members can collect early digital collectibles in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Starbucks Odyssey, however, does away with the tech lingo and calls these NFT collectibles “journey stamps” instead.
Additionally, a set of limited-edition NFTs will be available to purchase in the Starbucks Odyessy web app, which also works on mobile devices. Though hosted on the Polygon blockchain, these NFTs will be bought using a credit or debit card — a crypto wallet is not required. The company believes this will make it easier for consumers to engage with the web3 experience by lowering the barrier to entry. It also won’t complicate consumers’ transactions with things like “gas fees,” preferring to offer a bundled price.
The company is not yet ready to share what its NFTs will cost or how many will be available at launch, saying these are decisions that are still being ironed out.
However, the various “stamps” (NFTs) will include a point value based on their rarity and can be bought or sold among Starbucks Odyessy members in the marketplace, with the ownership secured on the blockchain. The artwork on the NFTs is being co-created by Starbucks and outside artists, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition collectibles will be donated to support causes chosen by Starbucks employees and customers.
By collecting the stamps, members will gain points that can unlock exclusive benefits.
These perks go beyond those you can earn with a traditional Starbucks Rewards account and its “stars.” While today, members can earn things like free coffee, free food or select merchandise, the points earned in Starbucks Odyessy will translate into experiences and other benefits.

Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia. Image Credits: Starbucks(opens in a new window)
On the lower end, that could be a virtual espresso martini-making class or access to unique merchandise and artist collaborations. As you gain more points, you may earn invites to special events hosted at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, or even earn a trip to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica. It’s expected the very largest perks will be reserved for those who purchase NFTs, though lesser versions may be offered to those who earn their way up.
For instance, a paid NFT could offer the full travel package and farm tour, while an earned NFT could offer the tour alone with flights and hotels left up to the user. Starbucks hasn’t made any formal decisions on this front, however.
But what the company can say is that it wants to deeply integrate the program with its existing loyalty rewards, beyond simply using the same user account credentials for both programs.
Brewer says Starbucks is already imagining how some of the activities that earn NFTs will be connected to real-world Starbucks purchases, for instance.
In Odyssey, users earn NFTs by doing challenges, which might also include a real-world activity like “try three things on the espresso menu.” This would require the user to show their barcode at checkout — as they would if earning stars — to have their transaction counted toward the Starbuck Odyssey challenge. The company is still determining what mix of games, challenges and quests it will include at launch.
“But we’ll have experiences that do link directly to customers’ behavior in our stores,” Brewer stresses. Most importantly, the company wants to make gaining NFTs something anyone can do — not just those with money to blow on digital collectibles, as is often the case with current NFT communities, which price out the average user.
“There will be a lot of ways for people to earn [rewards] without having to spend a lot of money,” says Brewer. “We want to make this super easy and accessible. There will be plenty of everyday experiences customers can earn like virtual classes or access to limited edition merchandise, for instance. “The range of experiences will be quite vast and very accessible,” he adds.
Starbucks says it explored all the different blockchains for the project but landed on the “proof-of-stake” blockchain technology built by Polygon for this effort because it uses less energy than first-generation “proof-of-work” blockchains, which is more in line with its conversation goals.

Image Credits: Starbucks (opens in a new window)
The idea to enter into the world of web3 makes sense for a company known for taking advantage of emerging technologies and making them more approachable and easy for consumers to access. In years past, Starbucks introduced Wi-Fi in its stores to encourage customers to spend more time during visits. It also pushed the idea of mobile wallets long before Apple Pay became ubiquitous. And it made mobile ordering the norm well ahead of the COVID pandemic, when other restaurant chains picked it up.
But one criticism leveraged against many traditional businesses when they enter the web3 market is that they’re approaching it as a marketing stunt, not a real endeavor. Starbucks, of course, argues that’s not the case here — but only time will tell how serious its interest may be.
“We’re bullish on the future of these technologies enabling experiences that were not possible before,” Brewer claims. The intention is to be flexible and move with the customers as the web3 market changes, he explains. “It’s really important that we’re looking at it for the long-term,” he continues. “But, given that we’re plugging it into our industry-leading, massive scale rewards program — we’re committed,” he says.
The company says its web3 platform will open its waitlist (waitlist.starbucks.com) on September 12 and will launch later in the year. It will remove the waitlist and open the platform more broadly sometime next year.

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Tyler Hobbs' Fidenza NFT Project Gets $1M Pump Over 48 hours – CoinDesk

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DOJ Asks Congress for Tools to Limit NFT Money-Laundering Risk – PYMNTS.com

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Down at the very bottom of the crypto crime report the Justice Department issued last week was a request that could make it a lot harder to buy and sell NFTs.
Citing examples of criminals using the sale of the popular nonfungible tokens that hold art, video, music and collectibles to launder funds, the Justice Department asked Congress to define some of all NFTs as “value that substitutes for currency” under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
Doing so, it said in “The Role of Law Enforcement in Detecting, Investigating, and Prosecuting Criminal Activity Related to Digital Assets,” would “make clear that its key [anti-money-laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terror (CFT)] provisions — including the obligations to have customer identification programs and report suspicious transactions to regulators — apply to NFT platforms, including online auction houses and digital art galleries.”
See also: DOJ Seeks to Double Jail Time for Money Transmission Crimes
The impetus, the department said, is the “explosive growth in the demand and corresponding markets for NFTs, perhaps most notably in the area of digital art.”
Substantial Risk
This “presents substantial money-laundering risks,” it said, citing a February Treasury Department study on money laundering in the broader art market.
“NFTs can be used to conduct self-laundering, a sequence in which criminals purchase an NFT with illicit funds and then resell to a purchaser who pays for it with clean funds unconnected to a prior crime,” that report noted.
It also found that in most cases, “digital assets that are unique, rather than interchangeable, and that are used in practice as collectibles rather than as payment or investment instruments … are generally not considered to be virtual assets under [international regulations].”
The “nonfungible” part of NFT means that each is unique and cannot substitute for any other, as opposed to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin which all have the same uses and value.
NFT marketplaces “may take the view that this definition [of a ‘value that substitutes for currency’] does not apply to their activities — and that they are thus not subject to the BSA’s anti money-laundering and anti-terrorism laws, the department said.
Justice is asking Congress to amend the BSA “to make clear that its key AML/CFT provisions — including the obligations to have customer identification programs and report suspicious transactions to regulators — apply to NFT platforms, including online auction houses and digital art galleries.”
Already There
Redefining NFTs as “value that substitutes for currency” would allow the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (FinCEN) to “potentially seek to regulate such activity under its money transmission regime,” a trio of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom wrote in an April blog post.
That, according to Jamie Boucher, Eytan Fisch and Javier Urbina, would require NFT marketplaces to register as money services businesses (MSB) with FinCEN.
Some types of NFTs — notably those used to fractionalize tangible assets like physical artworks and real estate, but also other valuable art or collectible tokens — are likely securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said.
See more: How Did NFTs Become SEC’s Newest Crypto Target?
In FinCEN’s view, the trio noted, those can be repurposed to fit the definition of “value that substitutes for currency” and thus may already require MSB licenses.
 
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