Crypto Collectibles

Feature Story


Producing 10,000 artworks is a monumental task for any artist, even a group of artists. However, the bar becomes much lower when the creation of each unique piece is done by computer program, mixing and matching variables to eliminate the chance of doubles. Welcome to "generative art" a 2017 invention by Larva Labs that used software to create 10,000 randomly generated pixel-based avatars as individual "Cryptopunks" using unique combinations of attributes such as hats, hairstyle and jewellery. This was the spark that launched the usage of NFT for crypto-collectables. Each of these simple pixel-faced avatars has been created as an NFT token on the Ethereum blockchain, which serves as a deed of ownership. 

Cryptopunks started as an experiment, and they were originally given away by the lab. By 2020, however, they had become sought after collectables and they were fetching six figures in marketplaces, and then seven-figure sums at auction houses by the next year. It is hard to grasp exactly the appeal of these simple pixelated figures, but the fact they initiated the crypto art movement makes them historic, they are verifiably rare, and being owned by celebrities and business identities does bolster their desirability. Other people may intrinsically enjoy the artwork, or want to display it as an online avatar to feel like part of an exclusive club. Regardless, paying nearly USD 8 million for an 8-bit pixelated avatar signals that buying collectable NFT is as much about ostentatious displays of affluence, "Flexing" in blockchain jargon, as it is about the FOMO (fear of missing out) rush to capitalise on stratospheric rises in value. 

Bored Ape 

Yacht Club (BAYC) 

Never has a boring NFT been so attractive. The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a collection of 10,000 unique Bored Ape NFTs, and another example of generative art. However, it is more than a simple jpeg piece of art. Rather, an owner's Bored Ape doubles as a Yacht Club membership card to the BAYC Virtual Swamp which is home to this decentralised community, and your ape unlocks members-only access to club perks. 

BAYC has become more than just a piece of art, as it has expanded into merchandise with special deals for BAYC owners, and real-life events such as a recent yacht cruise party in New York—where the admission was proof of ownership of a BAYC. The BAYC are not only objects of desire, but also of utility, they give a purpose and use case for owning the NFT. The BAYC branding is strong. A slew of investors, collectors, and celebrities have joined the owners' ranks, further heightening desire for entry into this "club" as a way of flexing the individual's wealth or social status. 

Where BAYC has pushed the boundaries of NFT collectables is in the area of intellectual property ownership, and what this allows owners of BAYC to do. Distinct from the usual practice for NFT, where the owner does not get the intellectual property rights to their purchase, the BAYC actual own their apes in all senses of the word. Having the commercial rights to their unique Bored Ape has led to a brisk secondary market, as well as an array of physical products such as t-shirts, hats, skateboards, and even beer!