What Are CryptoPunks? Exploring the Fascinating World of Digital Collectible Art

What Are CryptoPunks? Exploring the Fascinating World of Digital Collectible Art
HomeNFTWhat Are CryptoPunks? Exploring the Fascinating World of Digital Collectible Art

CryptoPunks are a unique form of digital collectibles that have taken the world by storm. These digital assets, created on the Ethereum blockchain, have become highly sought-after and have even gained a cult-like following. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of CryptoPunks and understand why they have become such a sensation.

What Are CryptoPunks?

Upon initial inspection, these diminutive, pixelated visages enclosed within minuscule squares may not appear particularly remarkable. Some sport tobacco pipes, others don distinctive headwear, and a few even take on extraterrestrial forms. However, appearances can be deceptive in the realm of NFTs.

CryptoPunks by Larva Labs
CryptoPunks by Larva Labs

Merely possessing one of these comically styled characters could potentially afford you anything from a modest apartment to a sprawling mansion. Limited to a mere 10,000 units, these 8-bit-style CryptoPunks constitute a highly sought-after NFT collection. They eschew engagement in battles, staking, or any other activities, content to simply exist as the quirky punks they are. Notably, CryptoPunks holds the distinction of being one of the earliest NFT projects to have come into existence.

By Whom Were CryptoPunks Created?

CryptoPunks, the brainchild of New York-based Larva Labs, co-founded by Matt Hall and John Watkinson, emerged onto the scene in 2017 as an experimental foray into the realm of NFTs and art, effectively contributing to the establishment of what we now recognize as the world of crypto art.

Distinguishing themselves from conventional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or ETH, CryptoPunks constitute a distinct category of crypto assets. Specifically, all 10,000 of these distinctive punks exist as unique NFTs residing on the Ethereum blockchain. Among these, 3,840 are characterized as female, while 6,039 are of the male persuasion. Additionally, this eclectic collection encompasses a variety of intriguing personas, such as apes, aliens, and zombies.

CryptoPunk Attributes

The distinctiveness of each CryptoPunk results from an amalgamation of various attributes, ensuring the individuality of all 10,000 in the series. Interestingly, during their initial availability, these digital gems were distributed free of charge, with the sole requisite being the payment of the associated Ethereum transaction fee.

Since their inception, the popularity of these digital artworks has surged dramatically, mirroring the broader trend in the NFT market. Notably, Christie’s auction house has joined the fray, presenting collections with estimated values reaching into the millions of dollars.

Among the CryptoPunks, a particular standout is the pallid alien punk sporting a headband, which currently holds the record for the highest-selling CryptoPunk, having fetched a staggering 4,200 ETH, equivalent to approximately $7.58 million at the time of the sale in March 2021. Following closely in second place is CryptoPunk #7804, which also commanded a sum of 4,200 ETH (equivalent to roughly $7.57 million at the time of sale). The price discrepancy is attributable to the fluctuating value of Ethereum.

Biggest CryptoPunk Sales

In the broader realm of NFTs, these two items hold the distinction of being the second and third most expensive non-fungible tokens sold to date, with Beeple’s “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” securing the top position at an astonishing $69,346,250.

What Is The Functioning Mechanism of CryptoPunks?

At the moment of initiating the project, the ERC-721 token protocol, which is presently employed for NFTs, was not in existence. Larva Labs was compelled to utilize the available resources, namely the ERC-20 protocol.

In a punk-inspired manner, the team ultimately made modifications to the ERC-20 code to generate non-fungible assets, thereby serving as a source of inspiration for the subsequent development of ERC-721.

Upon scrutinizing the token on Etherscan, we can observe a Maximum Total Supply of 10,000. Although the punks appear as ERC-20 tokens, they bear distinctions from identical tokens.

CryptoPunks on Etherscan
CryptoPunks on Etherscan

To ascertain the genuineness of each CryptoPunk, you can employ a method involving the hashing of its reference image and then comparing this hash value with a specific image hash stored within the token’s contract. Since the images are too sizable to be directly stored on the blockchain, Larva Labs devised a solution by creating a composite image that encompasses all 10,000 punks, and a corresponding hash of this composite image resides within the CryptoPunks token contract.

CryptoPunks Image Hash

Now, the question arises: how can you determine the specific CryptoPunk you possess? The answer lies in the metadata contained within each punk’s token, which references its precise location within the composite image. For instance, consider CryptoPunk #7804, which denotes that it occupies the 7804th position within the expansive composite image.

Where Is It Possible to Purchase CryptoPunks?

In addition to their role in designing the CryptoPunks themselves, Larva Labs took the initiative to establish a dedicated marketplace directly on the CryptoPunks website. This marketplace serves as the central hub where users can place bids, purchase, and trade CryptoPunks. To engage with this marketplace, you’ll need to install and connect your MetaMask extension.

CryptoPunks on Marketplace

Furthermore, CryptoPunks have expanded their presence to OpenSea, a prominent NFT marketplace operating on the Ethereum network. These pixelated characters, known as pixel punks, have undergone a transformation by being encapsulated as ERC-721 tokens, thus enabling them to be traded on various NFT platforms.

CryptoPunks on Opensea

It’s worth noting that the conversion between an ERC-721 CryptoPunk and its original ERC-20 format is a straightforward process. This conversion occurs through Wrapped PUNKS and can be executed seamlessly using a MetaMask wallet that holds a CryptoPunk.


Although they are no longer considered unique in the world of NFTs, CryptoPunks once held the pioneering distinction of embodying pure artistic value on the blockchain. Diverging from CryptoKitties, which incorporates gamification aspects, each distinct punk merely represents a straightforward image. Nevertheless, their enduring popularity remains evident through the numerous projects that draw direct inspiration from CryptoPunks.

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