The Boom of the NFT Art Scene

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 24, 2022

Art has long been thought of as a physical object, such as a painting, drawing, or sculpture. However, the rise of technology changed that, transitioning the world of art into one that occurs both offline and online. In fact, numerous works of art exist nowhere else but in the digital world, and their value is on the rise.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have changed art forever, serving as a way to make a particular work of art truly valuable. Just like the original of a famous work is more valuable than even a perfect copy, an NFT backed by blockchain technology does the same for digital art.

The increased value of digital art can be directly seen in sales volume and prices. In 2021, numerous valuable pieces of NFT art were sold. The same will likely happen this year, with NFT art potentially rising to new heights as acceptance of the art form increases. But how much did NFT art make in 2021, and what will be popular this year?

Why 2021 Saw a Massive Spike In NFT Art

Digital art sales exploded in 2021, not only in terms of interest and volume but in terms of the amount spent on digital artwork. Many pieces went for millions, with some going far beyond. One art piece, The Merge, went for nearly $100 million, though it is a bit of a special case, even in the NFT art world.

But what led to the spike? Well, there are a lot of factors. Crypto and blockchain technology are rising to new heights, and people are coming around to the idea of NFTs and other digital property having real value. Those coming around to the idea even include auction houses that have formerly dealt with high-end real-world pieces.

One example of the merging of NFT art with real-world auction houses can be seen in the form of the second most valuable piece of NFT art ever sold, which was auctioned by Christie’s. The auction house, founded in 1766, realized the value of digital art and made a move. And those are only two pieces that sold for high prices in 2021.

The Highest Grossing NFT Art of 2021

There are many valuable types of NFTs floating around, but art has seen a particular rise in popularity and value. Many pieces of art have high price tags attached, and it is not limited to new and unique artwork. In fact, some of this year’s biggest successes are part of a long-running series.

The Merge

No piece of NFT art came close to The Merge in 2021. It sold for a shocking $91.8 million, making history as the most expensive piece of digital artwork ever sold. The artist, Pak, sold the piece through the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway, where it was auctioned over the course of a few days.

However, the unique part about The Merge is that it did not get purchased by a single person. The piece of art sold in units known as “mass”, with over 250,000 units of mass being sold to nearly 30,000 people over the course of the auction. While The Merge is officially the highest-grossing piece of NFT art, it is not owned by a single entity.

Everydays – The First 5000 Days

There is something to be said about the dedication of Beeple, the artist behind the second highest-grossing art piece of 2021. The work is a collage of 5,000 images that were created over 13 years. One image. Every day. It is an impressive feat, and it gained a lot of attention, including that of Christie’s auction company.

Christie’s auction company has been around since 1766, so their presence adds some serious credibility. While that might not be the reason for the success of this piece of art, it certainly played a part. On March 11th, 2021, Everydays – The First 5000 Days sold for $69.3 million at auction to a single person.

Human One

Human One is another of Beeple’s works sold in 2021. The piece went for $28.9 million, making it the artist’s second-most profitable piece. Moreover, it was also sold by Christie’s at auction. However, unlike his other work, which was entirely digital, Human One is a hybrid piece. It exists both digitally and physically, making it a unique piece.

The physical piece of art is a seven-foot human-like sculpture. It appears to constantly be walking across an ever-changing landscape, which is accomplished using four video screens. But what really makes it interesting is the digital aspect.

Beeple has remote access to his artwork, which allows him continued creative control. Through his access, he can change things like the landscape. So not only can he ensure it is always functioning properly, but he can enhance the experience over time. Additionally, Human One came with a corresponding NFT.

CryptoPunks #7523, #3100, and #7804

While CryptoPunks are not new to the NFT scene, they are one of the most sought-after pieces of art on the market. Created in 2017 by Larva Labs, the collection of CryptoPunks featured 10,000 unique pieces of art. Not only are they exclusive, with only one of each existing, but they are considered by many to be the original NFT collection.

Out of the 10,000 punks, CryptoPunk #7523 was the one that sold for the most in 2021, fetching $11.75 million. The art features an alien with blueish-green skin, a knitted cap, an earring, and a medical mask.

Additionally, the 4th and 5th spots of 2021 were also taken by CryptoPunks, and the competition was close. CryptoPunk #3100, another blueish-green skin alien, went for $7.58 million. The only other feature of this alien is a white-and-blue headband.

The final punk is CryptoPunk #7804, which sold for right at $7.57 million, barely coming in under #3100. It is yet another blueish-green skin alien but with a Sherlock Holmes vibe, sporting a cap, shades, and a smoking pipe.

Right-click and Save As guy

The Right-click and Save As guy is another major sale from 2021. The artist, XCOPY, is one of the most successful artists in the world, having sold over 1,900 pieces of art. While most of his works feature death or dystopia, this piece was created as a joke aimed at people who doubt the value of NFTs since they can be right-clicked and saved.

The piece of art displays someone wearing shades and a hoodie, with their red lips constantly moving. The background is also animated with a static of sorts. While some people out there think they can right-click and save NFT artwork, there is no doubt in the value of this piece, which sold for over $7 million on the SuperRare marketplace.

Ringers #109

Unlike the other artwork propelled to great heights featured above, Ringers #109 is not made by human hands. Instead, it was made by Art Blocks using an algorithm. The algorithm simply wraps a string around a set of pegs, which is what the art depicts.

There are an almost infinite number of ways for the algorithm to accomplish its task, which is one of the reasons the Ringers series is so unique. Not only is every single piece of art unique, but it is unique from a pool of almost infinite possibilities. The variations include:

  • Peg Count
  • Sizing
  • Layout
  • Wrap Orientation
  • Colorful Flourishes

It is a simple concept taken to extremes, and Ringers #109 is the most successful of the lot. In fact, the algorithm-created piece sold for right under $6.9 million.


Beeple makes an appearance once again, making him a clear frontrunner in the world of NFT art. This time, the featured piece is something he made in 2020 called Crossroads. The work appeared during the US presidential elections, and it was linked to the election. It was only when Joe Biden won that it took its final form.

The image locked into one of its two possible appearances, featuring a bloated Donald Trump corpse lying in the grass by a road. The body has graffiti all over it, and it shows people walking by without paying it any mind. At the time, the artwork sold for $66,666.66. However, it sold again in 2021, reaching 100 times the original price.

A Coin for the Ferryman

The final piece of 2021 to appear here is another work by XCOPY, and it is a GIF that features a figure with a constantly changing expression. The artwork sold for just over $6 million in November of last year, barely surpassing another of Beeple’s works.

A Coin for the Ferryman is one of the first pieces made by XCOPY, originally minted in 2018. Back then, it sold for the price of $139. While it changed hands before the sale in 2021, the increase in value is evident.

Expectations for Popular Art in 2022

Everything in the space of NFT is hard to predict. Expectations that are around one moment might change, and new players and trends are constantly appearing and evolving. However, there is some art out there that is worth keeping an eye on as the year moves forward.


CyberPunks have been a highly desired collection of NFT art for years, and that is not likely to change. If anything, it is still growing in popularity, with more and more people looking for a way to get their hands on it. The collection includes 10,000 unique punks, with 88 being zombies, 24 apes, and nine aliens.

These NFTs also come with an easy way to see if they are for sale. Their background color changes based on the status, with red letting you know they are for sale. If they are being bid on currently, it changes to purple, while blue means that they are not for sale.

Bored Ape Yacht Club

Another collection of 10,000 is the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). Each of the apes in the collection is unique, each having its own characteristics and being highly collectible. While it is a newer series launched in 2021, the value is quickly rising. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing collections of NFT artwork available.

In addition to being rare and collectible, the NFTs come with a Yacht Club membership card. The membership has various benefits, which include things like private concerts and access to a type of collective graffiti board. Moreover, as the collection continues to grow, the benefits might as well.

Mutant Ape Yacht Club

People cannot get enough of the apes, proven by the additional yacht club created by the same people as the BAYC. However, the Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) has some unique points. For starters, the collection of 10,000 apes achieved instant popularity, selling for $96 million instantly after its release in August 2021.

But where things really get interesting is the unique system added to the mutant series. The company introduced an NFT known as “Serum”, which can be used to convert Bored Apes into Mutant Apes. With the BAYC containing 10,000 apes of its own, that makes the potential pool of Mutant Apes 20,000.


The MekaVerse is here, and it is based around the mecha universe popular in Japan. The collection features 8,888 Mekas that were made by 3D artists and are incredibly unique. While the collection might not have the same exposure as some of the other NFT art out there, the creators have interesting ideas for the art.

Aside from selling the Mekas, the project includes plans to take things even further, including a desire to create 3D-printed toys, merch, and even short films that feature the individual Mekas. Therefore, buying a Meka could see your character appear in a short film, bringing it to life.

Cryptoon Goonz

Cryptoon Goonz is an incredibly unique collection of 6,969 characters that each have eight properties of varying rarity. There are even a few special attributes within the collection. The basic anatomy of a Cryptoon Goon includes its head, mouth, eyes, body, hands, shorts, shoes, and an accessory.

The original minting of Cryptoon Goonz has sold out, but you can still find them online. Additionally, the community is quite strong, making a great choice if you want to be a part of something and get some cool art. Plus, the fact that they are vaguely reminiscent of Mickey Mouse is quite humorous and unique in and of itself.

Cool Cats

There are 9,999 Cool Cats out there, and they are all unique. While the theme of creating a collection of unique characters around a central theme is not new, Cool Cats has some really interesting designs. The characters in the collection vary based on facial expressions, traits, and attire.

Additionally, Cool Cats come with access to a number of benefits, including events like NFT claims, raffles, and giveaways. The developer also has the ability to breed the characters for a new generation. That means the future of the Cool Cats is uncertain but promising, something already proven by the auction of one Cool Cat for $3.5 million.

Adam Bomb Squad

The Hundreds, a famous streetwear brand founded in 2003, has made its way into the NFT art market with the Adam Bomb Squad. They did this with the Adam Bomb, their famous logo. It is an interesting addition to the NFT art world because it has a history, which is coming to life with the Adam Bombs.

The Adam Bombs are unique pieces of NFT art, and they come with additional benefits for buyers. The brand is offering NFT holders exclusive merch and early access to drops.

The company is also looking into making it possible for Adam Bomb holders to buy clothing featuring their bomb and be rewarded for selling their unique clothes to others. It is an interesting approach to the NFT art space, weaving more tangible benefits and possibilities into the exclusivity of owning part of the collection.


Larva Labs, the company behind the wildly popular CryptoPunks, launched Meebits in 2021. Meebits are pixelated 3D avatars, but more than that, they are available for use in the virtual world.

The entire collection of Meebits numbers 20,000, with each of them being unique and of varying rarity. While Meebits are nowhere near CryptoPunks in price, they are one to keep an eye on in 2022. After all, Larva Labs has already proven themselves once.

Moon Boyz

Moon Boyz is a group with a mission, and the first step to accomplishing their mission is NFT art. But even though the art is not the endgame for the group, it is still detailed and highly collectible. Moon Boyz is a collection of 11,111 tokens with unique 3D designs. Moreover, they all come with a membership to the community and utilities.

The Moon Boyz has a clear roadmap, and the NFT art is only the first step. The group laid out plans for art expos and events, figurines and merch, a moon shop with various functions, and a business club that will include live events and VR meetups.

However, there is an even bigger goal with the Moon Boyz: to reach the moon. While the seriousness of the claim is not definite, they mention getting to the moon by 2024. They even talk about sending a Moon Boyz holder on the trip.

Anything Beeple

Beeple showed up huge in 2021, dominating the top-sellers list when it comes to NFT art. In fact, of the top pieces, he took up a majority of the spots. Things are not expected to change with the artist, who clearly has his finger on the pulse of what people want. And he is not the only one. Artists like XCOPY deserve equal attention.

Final Thoughts

The NFT world changes rapidly, and that includes the NFT art market. But no matter how many new names and trends appear, you can expect massive growth across the market as a whole. NFT is here, and it is here to stay. Who knows, you might get in on the ground floor of something amazing if you keep your eyes open.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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