One ultra-rare CryptoPunk is set for some extra stage time at a hotly anticipated upcoming auction.
In a Tweet today, luxury auction house Sotheby’s announced that the sale of CryptoPunk #7530 — also known as “Covid Alien” — will be offered during a “special, standalone” auction. The Punk was previously announced as part of the “Natively Digital” event, which highlights the history of NFTs and cryptoart, with a selection of pieces that include what many consider to be the first-ever NFT: Kevin McCoy’s “Quantum,” an animation minted in 2014 on the Namecoin blockchain.
The auction comes on the heels of a number of high-profile NFT sales from rival-auction house Christie’s. In addition to a $17 million sale of 9 CryptoPunks earlier this month, Christie’s hosted the sale of a Beeple retrospective collage that brought in $69 million — the highest NFT sale price ever, and the third most expensive work ever sold by a living artist. Therefore, the move to a solo event shows that Sotheby’s is eager to get in on the trend of NFTs becoming an accepted form of high art.
How much exactly the alien Punk will fetch is a hot topic of conversation among NFT collectors. On-chain data shows that the last public sale of the Punk was in 2017 for 8 ETH, though the current owner told Cointelegraph in an interview that he acquired the collectible in a OTC deal more recently.
The most recent on-chain alien sale was CryptoPunk #3100, which sold for 4,200 ETH — over $10 million at today’s ETH prices.
“This wont be a popular opinion, but I think [Covid Alien] will go for less than the last one,” cautioned NFT collector and NFT 42 developer Nate Hart. “I expect it to break 5M, but I think 10M is probably the upper limit. There is such a limited pool of buyers at that level.”
The current owner of the Punk, NFT collector “Sillytuna“ framed the sale in historic terms.
“I had always planned to do something interesting but didn't mind when that was, even if ten years away,” he said. “As a proponent of NFTs since before they even had that name, I'm keen on gradually educating the wider world on their potential. To do that, we need to lay down markers like this.”
“This was never about the money,” he added.
However, as Sotheby’s announcement of the inclusion of the Punk notes, CryptoPunks that are used as profile pictures are a way for NFT OGs to identify themselves: “More is said by a Punk as a profile picture than a portrait of the individual behind the account.”
Thankfully, Sillytuna has a (significantly less expensive) backup ready — a visored human punk with a matching orange beanie.
Hart, however, is dubious that high-profile auction events are bringing a new crowd to the market.
“I think it's cool to see NFTs hit these marketplaces but i don't know that they're bringing any outsider interest really. Even mega rich people don't spend 7 figs on something they don't understand.”
The auction will be livestreamed June 10th at 10:00 am EST.