NFT sales have come a long way since the first-ever mint in 2014. The digital assets mostly began taking the Internet by storm in the midst of the pandemic; people had more time to see what this Web3 malarkey is all about, and more NFT artists began flooding the space.
Digital artists like Beeple, Pak and Tyler Hobbs regularly sell their NFT artwork for more than six figures.
What makes their NFT projects stand out compared to others? Check out these top 10 historic NFT artists and what they brought to the blockchain:
Pak (Murat Pak)
The anonymous NFT curator Pak, known as Murat Pak, is top of the NFT ladder. One of his Merge NFTs sold for a whopping $91.8 million, making it the most expensive sale to date. Buyers with the most significant stakes can trade and buy shares in other markets for higher prices.
Pak is also well-known for creating NFTs with unique use cases. For example, his Clock Censored* collection consists of a timer that counts the number of days Assange has spent in prison. The former WikiLeaks publisher faces 175 years in jail over extradition to the US.
Interestingly, a DAO fighting for Assange’s rights—AssangeDAO—won the NFT bid for approximately $52.7 million. The cypherpunks gave 100% of the proceeds to the Wau Holland Foundation, which supports Assange's defense.
It’s challenging to know precisely how much Pak is worth, seeing as the anon artist is a mystery in the sphere. However, between February 2020 and April 2022, the curator sold more than 180,300 NFTs. The total NFT market cap for the digital assets currently stands at around $430 million.
Murat Pak’s works typically sell for $6.5k on average.
Mike Winkelmann, “Beeple”, shocked the world when his NFT collection Everydays: The First 5000 Days was sold for $69.3 million (38535 ETH). The event created an NFT hype and hit the headlines in mainstream media in 2021.
Beeple’s digital work comes down to other valuable factors: he accumulated a vast fan base, with more than 2.5 million followers across social channels. His projects are often described as prolific. For example, his “Everydays” art piece is a collage of his digital artwork of the first 5000 days he began creating digital art from start to finish. Although not only does the digital art present a glimpse into Beeple’s artistic journey, but also a timeline of the United States history in real-time.
Beeple has sold 1,351 NFTs in total that cost an entire value of $176,201,356.
His average sale price for an NFT is $130,422.91.
Tyler Hobbs (Art Blocks)
Since joining Art Blocks in June 2021, computer scientist and generative artist, Tyler Hobbs, has caused a storm among NFTs. His most famous collection, Fidenza, made more than $177 million in secondary sales, turning him into a crypto multi-millionaire.
Like other Art Blocks curators, he creates his now-viral art entirely from raw lines of code rather than using Photoshop and other popular photo editing tools. Although, differently, Hobbs is most famous for incorporating different hues and creating unique textures through algorithms, making his work one of the most versatile generative art styles to date.
Tyler Hobbs has sold 1012 NFT masterpieces, making his total NFT value stand at nearly $120 million.
On average, one of his NFTs costs around $115k.
Dmitri Cherniak has been a long-time crypto aficionado but didn’t mint his own NFTs until 2019.
Since then, Cherniak joined Art Blocks, creating his own generative art pieces through algorithms, similar to Hobbs. Despite only selling 875 NFTs in total, he stays ahead of the game over his Ringers collection, accumulating enough financial gain.
Cherniak’s artwork focuses on geometric shapes and vibrant colors. Although, some of his artwork is in black and white.
Thanks to his Ringers collection, his current NFT value is close to the billion mark, standing at around $99 million.
Cherniak’s highest sale for one Ringers NFTs is $2,682,000.
Although, these digital assets usually sell for $112,365.58.
Hitting the top five is the anonymous artist XCopy, who also showcases his collection on Art Blocks.
Unlike the above Art Blocks artists mentioned, XCopy’s artwork is not generative. Instead, the anonymous NFT creator mints various collections on multiple platforms, including SuperRare, KnownOrigin, NiftyGateway and Async.
The digital artist's work typically consists of spooky-looking themes, featuring skulls and dramatic lighting that explore “death, dystopia and apathy through distorted visual loops”. However, like all art, collectors can perceive his work however they wish.
XCopy has sold 9,543 NFTs, with his highest sale being $6.2 million—thanks to his All Time High in the City collection.
His total NFT value is around $90 million, with his most famous ones typically selling for more than $9k each.
Like Tyler Hobbs and Dmitri Cherniak, Matt DesLauriers is another creative coder representing some of the most famous generative art on the Art Blocks platform.
Unlike other abstract pieces found on the platform, DesLauriers’ artwork is representational at first glance. His NFTs similarly showcase contrasting strokes of colour, giving an abstract effect. But, differently, you can notice 2D and 3D landscapes of high peak mountains.
Matt DesLauriers has sold 2,070 NFTs.
DesLauriers’ most expensive digital asset, Meridian #327, sold for $36,963.58. In total, his digital assets are worth $55 million.
The name Hackatao is fitting for this NFT project. “Hack” means discovering hidden meanings, whereas “Tao” is Yin and Yang for representing a dynamic balance.
Hackatao is famous for both his NFT work as for physical pieces. Both styles showcase vibrant and expressive illustrations of female characters.
Although, the most soared after NFTs created by Hackatao represent everyday issues regarding humanity, the environment and society.
A well-known project created by Hackatao is Queen of Silence #3/5. The tattoo-styled, quirky piece of art features a woman with skulls, animals and dreams embedded into her body—representing her inner thoughts and demands.
So far, Hackatao has sold 9184 NFTs, making a total market cap of $42,079,970.32.
The NFTs typically sell for nearly $5K, although one sold for approximately $940k.
Snowfro (Erick Calderon)
Erick Calderon—who goes by the name Snowfro—is an iconic Web3 enthusiast who’s had an incredible journey. Not only is he renowned for being the founder of the Art Blocks generative NFT platform, but his iconic “Chromie Squiggles” generative NFT took the Web3 world by surprise.
Despite the generative art not looking like much at first glance, each Chromie Squiggle “embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform”. Thus, collectors consider it as a personal signature from Snowfro himself.
There are six contrasting types of Chromie Squiggles—fuzzy, ribbed, bold, standard, slinky, and pipe. He makes all styles from code that displays different characteristics and varies in rarity.
Mystery also plays a big part in the project. Interestingly, collectors don’t know which squiggle they will acquire until after purchase.
To date, the most expensive Chromie Squiggle is Chromie Squiggle #2227, with one selling for $26k.
The average sale price for these digital assets is around $12K, boosting the project's total market cap to approximately $38K.
Richard Lord is yet another NFT curator reaping the benefits of being an artist on the Art Blocks platform.
Lord’s most talked about NFT collection is Geometry Runners. The artwork represents animated geometric shapes “walking” across tiles. The collection's colours vary from being mutable to bright.
Geometry Runners has a total value of more than $30 million, with collectors purchasing 1,423 in total. The highest bid for a Geometry Runner NFT is $28k. However, most sell for around $21k.
Last but not least, Monica Rizzolli joins the list of the top ten NFT artists. And, guess what, she’s another Art Blocks curator—who would’ve thought it?
Being lucky enough to live in the Brazilian countryside, Rizzoli shows off her surroundings through digital art. And gosh, is it stunning. Her NFT collection consists of generative, abstract art. Although, she also highlights natural world forms, like flowers and leaves.
Despite being bottom of the list, she still has six figures to be proud of. Her most famous collection is Fragments of an Infinite Field #570, assisting towards a total market cap of $30 million.
The highest and average sale price for one of her NFTs is $29k.
Final Thoughts: The Evolving Popularity of NFT Artists
The top 10 Web3 millionaires mentioned above bring something unique to the blockchain. Nevertheless, many other noteworthy NFT artists are floating around the space—all of which also show off six figures.
There are a few trends we’ve gathered:
- Many of the top-selling NFT artists are anon. Collectors find the mystery appealing, as evidenced by the high-flying collections from Pak, XCopy and Hackatoa.
- The Art Blocks platform is a powerhouse. Buyers purchasing generative art on the platform do not fully know which digital assets they will receive until after forking out crypto to acquire one.
- The personal allure and branding of the creator adds to the mystique. Beeple, for instance, has built his following by creating daily pieces over a decade.
Of course, this list likely will change in time, as new generations of famous Web3 artists regularly appear on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea.