CryptoPunks ‘changed art history’, says panel at Sotheby’s auction

CryptoPunks enthusiasts and hopeful bidders gathered Wednesday night at Sotheby’s auction house in New York for what turned out to be a non-event after the sender of 104 CryptoPunks decided to leave.

Following this announcement, however, a live panel discussion on the history of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and CryptoPunks took place. The panel included Sherone Rabinovitz, technologist and CryptoPunk expert, and Kenny Schachter, art critic and curator. Colborn Bell, founder of the Museum of Crypto Art, hosted.

When asked about the early days of Larva Labs and CryptoPunks, Rabinovitz, who produced a documentary about the team in 2018, began by hailing CryptoPunks as the first project “to do everything right”. From aesthetics to its market, Larva Labs “sprinkled its magic” on an experiment to test digital ownership. He added that the beauty of CryptoPunks goes “beyond pixels and cultural payload” and that the code is “beautiful” enough to be printed, framed and hung on the wall.

In 2017, Larva Labs announced blockchain-based generative art on Ethereum with its algorithm that randomly generated pixelated punk characters. Since then, punks have gained mainstream recognition to become one of the most valuable NFTs in the world. It is currently the most traded collection by volume of all time on OpenSea.

Schachter, on the other hand, discovered NFTs and CryptoPunks much later in 2020, admitting he didn’t like it at first. “I think one of the most important things in life is understanding and trying to understand why you don’t like what you don’t like,” he said, adding that he had finally learned to fall in love with CryptoPunks. He explained:

“They have become a paradigm shift in the history of culture, something that is a hybrid between fine art and collectibles. They have changed the history of art without even intending to to be a work of art in the first place.”

Colborn then chimed in to point out that while Schachter doesn’t own punk, he embodies the spirit of it. According to Colborn, punks represent people who are fearless, who speak their minds, who make their values ​​known and recognize that change is possible.

Rabinovitz noted that one thing about CryptoPunks that is “not appreciated” is that the collection fits into the pop art movement, alongside the work of Andy Warhol:

“If you focus too much on rarity, you miss the point. Don’t forget what punks are. They are the ambassadors of a whole new era and a new movement.”

Schachter, who launched his own parody collection of NFTs called CryptoMutts, left the public with his hopes for a future where all digital works are projected into real space and where NFT communities continue to inspire more artists.

Related: 101 Bored Apes NFT auction at Sotheby’s closes at over $24 million

Last year, Sotheby’s set a world record with a sale of $11.8 million for a single CryptoPunk. And Bored Apes Yacht Club, the second most traded NFT collection, overturned CryptoPunks’ price floor. At press time, the cheapest Punk is 59.95 ETH, or $148,223, while the cheapest Bored Ape is 80 ETH, or $201,549.

CryptoPunks earned the #20 ranking in Cointelegraph’s 2022 list of Top 100 Crypto & Blockchain Influencers.

Christopher S. Washington