When at the end of 2020 we did an analysis on the history of Cryptopunks, the uptrend of this project was already clear, little did we know how big the Punks would grow in the real world over such a short time!
With famous auctions, the media attention, sales record upon sales record, VC speculation and the celebrities who own them… today CryptoPunks have become an essential part of the NFT culture.
But beyond the positive news, how is it behind the scenes…did everyone manage to make profitable sales and how is the supply distributed among holders?
Number of CryptoPunks in circulation
One of the first indicators to look at is the number of CryptoPunks in circulation. As a reminder, the initial distribution of the 10,000 punks took place in 2017 through an airdrop where all it took was to claim some to own some.
For many years, CryptoPunks held a relatively niche interest. Some collectors bought them for the symbol they represented but it was not very easy to obtain or resell them. Indeed, because of the use of the ERC-20 standard, the only way to exchange them was through the official Larvalabs marketplace.
When in 2020 it became possible to transform them into an exchangeable form (using the “Wrap”) on marketplaces like Opensea, interest really started to grow at that time.
With this new possibility for collectors, this made exchanges easier from March 2020 followed by a new wave of purchases in May 2020. But the biggest volumes were yet to come…
Waves of massive purchases
Then came the DeFi Summer of 2020 and its insane fees, blocking a large part of NFT sales in the process, but this temporary slowdown was only to start in full force again by September.
For no desirable reason, a wave of purchases took place during September 2020, which then fell sharply again at the end of the year. It was over this lull that we wrote an analysis on the evolution of CryptoPunks over time.
But this was to be only the first wave of truly massive buying. In February 2021, likely prompted by the announcement of Beeple’s NFT auction at Christie’s, a new record buying peak stood at 2,089 purchases for that month.
It was also in February that the average price of CryptoPunks began to really take off. Driven by the bull run of Ethereum with prices calculated on an ETH basis by purists, it became difficult for small buyers to be able to afford one..
One issue that quickly came to mind was that of decentralization. Indeed, are the addresses that bought all these Punks the same or was this truely a real craze on the part of the public?
A Toxic Centralization?
Keeping in mind that 36.34% of CryptoPunks have never moved from their initial wallets, let’s look at the supply breakdown today.
The first data that first jumps out here is the 100 largest holders are holding 71.88% of the supply in circulation!
The top 10, on the other hand, “only” hold 27.08% of the supply.
These figures indicate a very strong dominance by a small number of players, which raises some questions about potential market control.
While knowing that the average price of CryptoPunks soared from July 2021, the top 10 flippers became millionaires in just a few months.
Thanks to a knowledge of traits that are rarer than others, the acquisition of the rarest Punks has pushed the average price up, resulting in a strong hype.
But not all punks’ values are the same. Some investors, convinced that the price of CryptoPunks will only go up, have not hesitated to spend millions of dollars to get one.
The CryptoPunks market is therefore becoming more and more centralized but above all, completely inaccessible to ordinary mortals.
With the arrival of different investment groups like Three Arrow Capital that are only looking for the “most valuable” NFTs, it seems that competition for the acquisition of CryptoPunks is taking hold.
Between what seems to have become two opposing camps, the few buyers who were able to get their Punks a long time ago because they appreciated the design are now only a handful.
Probably not, but the spirit of donation and experience that reigned at the beginning, it is indeed dead.