The Ten Most Most Popular NFT Collections
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Lions, Penguins, Cats, Oh My!
The NFT space has absolutely blown up in the past few years. In 2021, non-fungible tokens recorded a record $12 billion in sales. What was once a niche use of the blockchain is now changing the world at the intersection of art, commerce, and technology. NFTs are sold alongside masterpiece paintings at major art auctions and festivals, pro sports franchises have their own NFTs, and everyone from Quentin Tarantino to Melania Trump has minted their own.
But when you boil it down, much of the buzz around NFTs still follows profile picture (PFP NFT) collections. Most PFP NFTs are randomly generated characters based on a number of variable attributes. The combinations of attributes make each individual NFT in a collection unique, and a cap on the collection itself creates rarity. (Most NFT collections are capped under 10,000 variations.)
PFP NFTs are especially popular on Twitter, where they are used to show membership in a group and status. Owning an NFT from a collection also often allows a user special privileges, such as access to a private Discord. In these ways, owning one of these NFTs is like automatic admission to a private club. As the exclusivity and desirability of these clubs rises, so does the price.
Note that we will not be considering NFTs made for play-to-earn or blockchain games, like Axies or CryptoKitties. While these are of course super popular NFTs, this list will focus solely on NFT collections which are designed solely as collectibles. It also does not include NFT collections which are not commonly used as profile pictures yet. For example, popular projects from RTFKT such as CloneX or the new Adidas NFTs, though super hyped, are not included here.
These rankings are based on sales volume, floor price, as well as the vibrance of the community and its presence on social media. This is not a ranking of the most valuable NFTs, but how influential and recognizable they are as social signifiers. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the ten most iconic NFT collections of all time.
10. Lazy Lions
Lazy Lions are one of the most infamous NFT collections, having spread widely around non-crypto Twitter for their distinctive art. The Lions are randomly-generated with differently colored manes, hats, glasses, and other accessories. Owners can access an exclusive VIP island, NFT “Bungalows” for their Lion to hang out in, merch, a private Discord, and community rewards. All-time sales volume is nearly $80 million, and the recent average price is around $5000.
9. Pudgy Penguins
Pudgy Penguins was launched in July 2022 by four anonymous founders, several of whom are still in college! There are 8888 Pudgy Penguins with randomly generated features, including sombreros, sunglasses, and bowties. The Pudgy Penguins rocketed to virality shortly after launch, partially due to a write-up from Kevin Roose, New York Times technology reporter, who purchased a Pudgy Penguin. A wave of publicity followed, and Pudgy Penguins have seen all-time volume of $140 million and a recent average price of $5000, with certain Penguins selling for many times more.
CyberKongz are pixelated gorilla characters which confer a wide range of social privileges to the owners. The first launch consisted of 1000 “Genesis” CyberKongz, including 10 “Legendary” NFTs. The collection expanded with Baby Kongz which are made by breeding two Genesis CyberKongz. The collection has an impressive range of social integrations based on a CyberKongz VX world in The Sandbox, a super popular blockchain game. This includes playable CyberKongz characters, a massive CyberKongz island, and the Banana Shop, where owners can buy things with the proprietary $BANANA token.The collection has an all-time sales volume of about $150 million and an average sale price of more than $32,000.
7. World of Women
World of Women is an NFT collection created by Yam Karkai, which seeks to boost “diversity and inclusiveness to the NFT space while bridging the gap between collectibles and single edition art worlds.” The collection features more realistic design than most other collections, showing women from all around the globe. There are 10,000 NFTs in the collection. The all-time sales volume is about $100 million, and recent sales have averaged about $10,000.
6. Cool Cats
The Cool Cats are a collection of 10,000 randomly generated (that’s probably getting old by now) cat characters with a cartoonish design. They have different hats, glasses, expressions, and more, with more than 300,000 possibilities. Clon is the artist behind Cool Cats, but the large team consists of many experienced crypto people. In the future, holders will be able to breed their Gen 1 Cats to make Generation 2. The all-time sales volume for Cool Cats is more than $200 million, and recent sales have approached $30,000.
Doodles are a collection of 10,000 unique characters, created by famous illustrator Burnt Toast aka Scott Martin. Jordan Castro, who led the CryptoKitties team at Dapper Labs (one of Pontem’s sister companies in the Animoca Brands portfolio), collaborated on the project. The Doodles feature cute designs with black dots for eyes over bright, multicolor backgrounds. The all-time sales volume for Doodles is about $120 million and they have recently fetched about $12,000 on average. Many other projects have since adopted the strategy of combining a well-known artist with experienced crypto marketers to launch an NFT collection.
Nouns have one of the most distinctive art styles of any NFT collection. The project is also managed in a revolutionary way. A new Noun is generated and auctioned off every 24 hours, creating an infinite supply, so their value is not dependent on artificial scarcity. The entire project is governed by the Nouns DAO and profits from the auctions are managed via the Nouns Treasury. Holding a Noun corresponds to a vote in the DAO. There are currently four collections: Nouns, VoxNouns, AniNouns, and 3D Nouns. Nouns routinely sell for more than $150,000, and some have fetched almost $2 million.
3. Art Blocks
Art Blocks is an extremely interesting NFT project because it is not centered around just one collection; instead Art Blocks mints all kinds of generative art to support the mission of art on the blockchain. Simply “pick a style that you like, pay for the work, and a randomly generated version of the content is created by an algorithm and sent to your Ethereum account.” Their Art Blocks Curated collection features artists who have been hand-selected by the Art Blocks team for their quality and intrigue. The most famous Art Blocks collection is the Chromie Squiggles, created by Art Blocks founder Snowfro.These distinctive rainbow zig-zags are very popular among collectors to use as profile pictures, and to show support for the Art Blocks mission. The market for Chromie Squiggles is still red hot, with pieces routinely fetching $20,000 and up.
Now, we’re in the top tier. Choosing between #2 and #1 was a real challenge, since these are both such iconic NFT collections. These two projects routinely fetch eye-watering sums and are definitely the most recognizable NFTs, even to people outside the space.
CryptoPunks are absolutely one of the most famous and recognizable symbols of NFTs and the entire crypto space. Created by Larva Labs in 2017, these pixelated humanoids have received an insane amount of press and attention. There are 10,000 total, and the color of the background represents if they are for sale or not. Their lifetime sales volume is a staggering $1.8 billion (yes, billion) and the current floor price is $230,000, far higher than the highest price ever paid for most of these other collections. Even Visa bought a CryptoPunk for $150,000. #3100, one of only 9 “Alien” Punks holds the record price at $7.58 millon. CryptoPunks are the best-selling NFTs, and surely among the most iconic NFTs ever.
1. Bored Ape Yacht Club
And while CryptoPunks are the most expensive NFT collection, price is not everything. If you picked a random person off the street and asked them to name one, they would probably say a Bored Ape. That’s the definition of iconic.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 unique Ape NFTs. Each Ape acts as your membership card to the Yacht Club - the richest social layer of any NFT collection. Members get access to a merch store, a radio station, a chalkboard for doodling, private Discords, in-person meetups, and more. Apes can be bred into Mutant Apes or adopt pets from the Bored Ape Kennel Club. Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Steph Curry are members, and Kylie Jenner was famously turned down on her offer to buy a rare pink Ape.
And Apes fetch a pretty penny. The lifetime volume is about $1 billion. The floor price for recent sales is about $200,000, and many go for much more. This one fetched 769 ETH, worth about $3 million today.
So that wraps up our list. Let us know what you think the most iconic NFT collection of all time is!