‘Ultimate Cryptopunks’ Buy one, if you dare.

Kate Vass
7 min readFeb 21, 2021
Cryptopunks exhibited at Kate Vass Galerie, 2018 in Zurich. Image rights reserved by the gallery.

As NFTs art goes viral, and only the lazy one hasn’t heard about #cryptopunks selling at very high prices. I decided to enlighten the story upon many requests about unique 24 punks — the ‘ones & only’ ever physically produced. Don’t rush to judge those punks and tag them as “physical” only, as we all know the devil hides in detail. There is much more to it, and I am enlightening more about them in this blog.

24 CryptoPunks were exhibited in their first and, so far, the last gallery show, { PERFECT & PRICELESS } — VALUE SYSTEMS ON THE BLOCKCHAIN at the Kate Vass Galerie back in 2018. They were hanging alongside some of the early protagonists of blockchain art and significant artists such as Kevin Abosch and Ai Weiwei.

Seal of one of the #cryptopunk. Image rights are courtesy of Larva Labs.

When first asked about participating in the exhibition, Matt and John were hesitant. The CryptoPunks are a digital work containing both the characters’ image and the blockchain means for ownership and auction. The famous duo wasn’t sure how to exhibit them in a physical gallery while protecting their digital nature and uniqueness.

The solution was finally found — to attach the digital ownership of a CryptoPunk to a physical print using something called a “Paper Wallet.” This means they sealed a long passphrase inside a physical envelope, then sealed the back with a custom wax seal to protect the contents. Every seal has the face of the punk, corresponding to the unique work. The long passphrase inside the envelope is the key to accessing digital ownership of this punk on the Ethereum blockchain. As long as the wax seal on the envelope is unbroken, you can be sure that the digital version of the art is still attached to the physical print in your possession. You, as a collector, are then free to buy or sell the physical print and envelope as a proxy for the digital edition.

Cryptopunks exhibited at Kate Vass Galerie, 2018 in Zurich. Image rights reserved by the gallery.

That said, there were only 12 punks produced as a first release. On 16th November 2018, a group of 9 punks had been hanging on the wall at the gallery’s big opening; among the images, the framed envelope was exhibited next to the image to signify the hidden digital component’s importance. As John and Matt claimed, those two should be displayed together, and both are art.

This connection between digital ownership and physical representation seems to have a lot of potentials. Overall, it looks like these unique ‘ultimate’ punks could provide a digital rarity and ownership solution, both online and offline.

All were sold out at the opening of the show. Planned exhibition program for a couple of months ensured the other 12 punks came out as a second release and were exhibited at the Finissage at the end of February 2019. The second release was pre-sold before it was displayed, and all the punks found their smart collector before they even make it to the wall in the gallery.

As an owner of the pioneering gallery, which stands at the roots of connecting art & tech and a loyal supporter of transparency on the art market, I feel the necessity for releasing the list of all 24 physical punks and giving more information about each one.

The creativity and forward-thinking of the masterminds of John and Matt are overwhelming. The duo has chosen all the characters carefully and provided an excellent diverse selection of all, considering gender/racial equality.

Please see the lists: 1st release 12 punks, and 2nd release 12 punks accordingly.

Before we detail 24 unique punks, I would like to refer again to the 10,000 uniquely generated digital characters. ‘No two are exactly alike, and each one of them can be officially owned by a single person on the Ethereum blockchain. Originally, they could be claimed for free by anybody with an Ethereum wallet, but all 10,000 were quickly claimed. Now they must be purchased from someone via the marketplace that’s also embedded in the blockchain. Via this market, you can buy, bid on, and offer punks for sale. The zoomable image above is connected to the Ethereum network and has been coloured to show you the status of every Punk in the market. Punks with a blue background have been claimed. Punks with a red background are available for sale by their owner. Finally, punks with a purple background have an active bid on them. You can click to zoom in on a Punk and reveal its details,’ explain Larva Labs on their website.

Of the 10,000 total digital punks, most are humans, but there are three particular types: Zombie (88), Ape (24) and Alien (9). There are also a wide variety of attributes with varying degrees of rarity; you can see the full list with all the details here: https://www.larvalabs.com/cryptopunks/attributes

In comparison to 10,000–24 punks are:

10,000 digital vs Physical

Male 6039 (414 available) 14 Male

Female 3840 (363 available) 10 Female

https://dappradar.com estimate of #6347, 15:21 CET, 21 Feb. 2021

There is a website https://dappradar.com where you can estimate any NFT punk’s value just by using the ID number in the search field. I inserted the numbers of all 24 ‘ultimate’ punks to give me the min. estimate if that would be only digital ones. The following results came up, and below are the top 10 positions: (prices are subject to change due to the volatility of ETH and demand/supply of the marketplace, priced at 15.20 CET, 21 Feb 2021)

I think this platform gives a reasonable estimate and is almost entirely accurate to actual sales on the market. However, in this case, we should also add additional criteria to estimate better ‘ultimate’ punks.

1. Rarity/types. If we look at the recent sale of 3 punks and the rarity/price ratio, this is what we have:

· Alien — 9 in total, one available at the average price 605 ETH (

· Ape — 24 in total and two available at the average price 530 ETH.

· Zombie — 88 in total, four available at the average price 106 ETH

· ‘Ultimate’ punks — 24 in total and has 2 in 1 component, so if we take ‘Apes’ as a reference — the price shall be min. Around 530 ETH?

2. Uniqueness. All 24 punks have a unique factor that none of 10,000 has, as they come with the exceptional fine art print signed by the artist. This factor, in the traditional art world, adds a coefficient of a minimum of x10 times.

3. The scarcity. 10,000/24 is enormous proportion, and literally, one work relates to another, so we can say- two works in one: physical and potentially digital (once you unfold the envelope to access the key). Another part that we see female punks are more scarce than male ones. Let’s try to break the stereotype that the male ones should sell for more. Let’s not be sexists and be rational when it comes to valuation. 10/24 are female punks. 2 female punks have 4–3 unique features (hair, cigarette, lips, eyes colour etc.), so feel free to make an obvious choice.

Furthermore, in its original incarnation, the punk subculture originated out of working-class angst and the frustrations many youths felt about economic inequality and the bourgeois hypocrisy and neglect of working people and their struggles. It was primarily concerned with mutual aid, egalitarianism, humanitarianism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-consumerism, anti-corporatism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, gender equality, racial equality, health rights, civil rights, animal rights and more. So gender/racial equality plays a significant role when you acquire one punk.

4. Provenance. This is probably one of the most important one. You receive 150% of a great provenance for both physical & digital.

5. Pioneers. You can relate to the history of how cryptopunks inspired crypto art and more exhibitions of such kind where we challenged the question of the connection between digital ownership and physical representation. ‘Ultimate’ punks provide a solution for digital rarity and ownership both online and offline.

If I combine all 5 points above and give the roughest conservative valuation of using the example of the most affordable punk from the above ranking list, that would be the following: 37 000 USD x 10 x 1.5 x 2 = 1 110 000 USD.

I am not suggesting that we should evaluate those ‘ultimate’ punks this exact way. It is more an open conversation, which of the above criteria we shall apply and which coefficient is the right one. But at the end of the day, the price can be anything, once there is a demand. We know the supply is scarce.

Therefore, when I have a request from collectors who wish to acquire one from the secondary market, and they ask me for advice on how much they shall bid for it, my answer is: “give your best offer they can’t refuse.” 99% of the current collectors don’t want and/or don’t plan on selling, so you have to convince them and, we all know that everything has its price.”

Alternatively, as an idea, knowing how the ‘ultimate’ punks look like now, you can collect the digital ‘similar’ characters available on the marketplace.

I hope this article will help bring additional light to the current situation and answer most of the questions I receive. I wish you all good successful purchases of digital ones, and if anyone is interested after reading this blog to dare to offer to buy one of the ‘ultimate’ punk, please do your best bid, ladies and gents.

FEBRUARY 21, 2021