The CryptoPunk Investor Who Raked An 85,000 Percent Return & The Early Seller Whose Collection Would Be Worth $438M

The CryptoPunk Investor Who Raked An 85,000 Percent Return & The Early Seller Whose Collection Would Be Worth $438M article feature image
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(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

From June 26 to July 7, 2017, a person with wallet ID 0x7174039818a41e1ae4 went to work.

He or she, whomever they may be, bought 39 8-bit style art images for a total of $1,899.

The digital pieces of art, started by two artists as an experiment, were limited to 10,000 and originally given out for free.

Having not gotten in on the original offering, 0x7174039818a41e1ae4 had to pay for them. Most were purchased for $13 or $14. The highest cost $381.

We have come to know these works as CryptoPunks.

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They have become the posterchild of the non-fungible token — NFT’s for short — world that we now live in.

The story of growth has been told from above. CryptoPunks will surpass $1.5 billion in sales and Bored Apes will blow by $550 million and various other offshoots of gorillas and cats (even “dick butts” have shown promise).

And while all the transactions are as transparent as can be on the blockchain, there’s been little reporting outside of the sexy big sales that have those who are into them clapping and those who aren’t screaming that it’s money laundering.

Using publicly available data tied to the blockchain, we deep dove into CryptoPunks to learn more about the whales at the top of the chain.

We don’t know who they are, but we do loosely know their stories — and they are fascinating.

As expected, the story of ownership is very much the haves and the have nots. A select few have controlled so much of the chain.

Today, the top three accounts own nearly 10 percent (991) of all the CryptoPunks, according to data from the creators, Larva Labs.

The Top 12 accounts own 22 percent (2,213) and the Top 27 accounts own 3,315 (33 percent) of the 10,000 Cryptopunks. These 27 owners have also sold 12 percent of all punks (1,193).

There are four owners who have more than 200 punks and 12 that have at least 100. There are 27 that maintain an active collection of at least 50 punks.

We know the story about one of the top owners, a wallet that contains 57 CryptoPunks. His name is freely attached to his wallet as gary.veefriends.

We confirmed that it is indeed influencer Gary Vaynerchuk, creator of NFT Vee Friends – and arguably the most influential player in the NFT collectible world. 

Earlier this year, Vaynerchuk started ramping up his CryptoPunk collection and drew eyeballs when he paid $3.7 million for one in late July, the fourth highest paid for a punk at the time.

Vaynerchuk’s public love for the asset helped boost sales immediately. At the time of his big purchase, the CryptoPunk floor (the lowest one available) was at about $40,000. A week later, it was $80,000. Today, it’s $417,000. 

That means that Vaynerchuk’s CryptoPunks account is now worth somewhere between $24 million and $40 million. 

The stories are more outrageous for the big whales that got in during the first three years (2017-2019) when “NFT” wasn’t part of public lexicon.

One account, wallet 0x7174039818a41e1ae4, has 89 CryptoPunks. Those 39 punks bought in those 11 days in June and July of 2017 for $1,900 are now worth over $16.2 million, using the current floor. That’s your good old return of 85,000 percent in less than four and half years.

Then there’s the other side that the blockchain allows us to see in broad daylight.

One user, whose name on Opensea is “Hemba,” did get in early enough and claimed many of the early punks for free.

“Hemba” alone sold more than 10 percent of all punks — 1,058 to be exact. And many of them, he or she flipped in the first six months for the quick buck. 

Hemba made $3.3 million off the sale of these punks, which, by all standards is really impressive. Then again, that’s a sale price average of $3,137, which means that, had Hemba held on to those punks, they would have been worth at least $437.8 million at today’s floor.

It’s hard to keep up with the NFT world, but the gift it’s given us all is the transparency to tell the stories behind the sales – even if we don’t know the people behind them.

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