We hear a lot about major NFT sales where the prices go up and the seller makes lots of money. But in the past few months, many NFTs have sold for way less than what they were bought for.
The crypto markets have plummeted, taking NFT sales down with them. But in contrast to fungible tokens — that is, cryptocurrencies — the NFT market is a lot harder to decipher, and trades on individual NFTs often carry their own stories.
Celebrities who “acquire” high-value NFTs tend not to sell them. If NFT prices drop too low, NFT collectors simply stop listing them, in the hopes that the market will rebound in the future. Fat finger mistakes, when the seller types in the wrong listing price or accepts the wrong bid, are surprisingly common. When a fat finger listing happens, it’s often instantly sniped by bots. Strange selling and buying patterns can also be attributed to wash trading — when the same person buys and sells from themselves — or even money laundering, both of which are well documented in the NFT market.
Stolen NFTs are also a big problem. Lots of collections have several frozen tokens that aren’t going to be sold on the market.
What follows is a list of NFTs that resold for a lot less — or didn’t sell at all because the bids were too low — during the months following the NFT boom. Often, the sellers and bidders are pseudonymous, so we can only surmise why they sold at a loss.
Bought for $1 million on October 19; sold for $139,000 on May 8
One of the earliest and best-known collections of NFTs is CryptoPunks, developed by Larva Labs in 2017. Last October, CryptoPunk 273, pointing to a pixelated boy wearing big shades and a cap, was bought for $1 million (265 ETH). That was when the NFT market was hot.
Six months later, the NFT market was cooling, and the collector sold it for $139,000 (55 ETH), at an 80% loss. On June 14, this Punk switched hands again for $102,172 (89 ETH), representing a further drop in valuation.
Bought for $525,000 on April 30; sold for $227,000 on May 10
On April 30, someone purchased an NFT of a Bored Ape with a red hat, a sleeveless T-shirt, and rainbow-colored teeth for $525,520 (186 ETH). A week and a half later, they sold the NFT for half of that price — $227,360 (112 ETH). Interestingly, the buyer in this transaction, who goes by the username punksOTC, facilitates over-the-counter trades and private deals, which may explain why this piece sold for the price it did.
The buyers’ pinned Tweet reads: “Are you a professional NFT trader looking to expand the volume and lower fees? DM me.” Looking on Etherscan, you can see that when the Ape went from the seller to punksOTC, the NFT was part of a transaction that swapped it for several other Bored Ape-associated NFTs.
Sotheby’s ‘Punk It!’, a collection of 14 CryptoPunks
Estimated to sell for $20 million–$30 million; auction canceled on February 23 due to lack of bids
If there was ever an NFT auction that was an epic fail, this may have been it. Sotheby’s described its February 2022 auction titled “Punk It!” as “a truly historic sale for an undeniably historic NFT project.” The collection consisted of 104 CryptoPunks. The seller, who goes by the name 0x650d, bragged on Twitter that he originally purchased the full batch for $7 million in ether.
Sotheby’s estimated the lot would go for $20 million to $30 million — but in the end, it didn’t sell at all. Twenty-three minutes into the auction, 0x650d, tweeted: “nvm, decided to hodl.” Sotheby’s wouldn’t comment on why the seller withdrew, but sources told Blockworks there were not enough bids.
Bought for $2.9 million on March 22, 2021; highest bid a year later: $277
In March 2021, the NFT market was bubbling up and NFTs were starting to sell for insane amounts of money. That’s when Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey made an NFT out of his first-ever tweet and put it up for auction on NFT marketplace Valuables. Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi won the auction with a 1,630 ETH bid ($2.9 million). Estavi called his purchase “The Mona Lisa of the digital world.”
A little over a year later, Estavi tweeted that he would be selling his “Mona Lisa.” He listed it on Opensea for 14,969 ETH (around $46 million). When the auction closed a week later, the top bid was $277 in ETH, out of seven offers. Consequently, Estavi still hodls the NFT.
Melania Trump’s ‘Head of State Collection’
First Lady buys her own NFT for $185,000 on January 25
On January 11, former-First Lady Melania Trump started auctioning the “Head of State Collection 2022” on the Solana blockchain, offering up a bundle that included a wide-brimmed hat Melania wore during a 2018 visit with French President Emanuel Macron, along with a watercolor of her wearing the hat, and an NFT pointing to a jpeg of the watercolor.
The winning bid was for $180,000 in tokens (1,800 SOL at the time). But further digging revealed that, at the last minute, the creator of the NFT shifted some funds around to various digital wallets and placed the winning bid. It seemed that the auction was such a dud, the owners bought their own NFT. The money went to charity.
Bought for $200,000 on May 11; sold for $21,000 on May 23
An ape sporting rainbow suspenders and a mohawk sold for $202,000 (88 ETH) on May 11. Two weeks later, on May 23, it sold for a tenth of the price — $20,680 (10 ETH). This turned out to be another fat finger tragedy. “Yep, was a fat finger. Was trying to list at 105. Never thought it’d happen to me. Devastating,” the seller who goes by @nft_metaman, said in a Tweet.
Bought for $32,000 on April 25; listed for $10 million; recent highest bid: $480
A Snoop Dog curated NFT, titled Doggy #4292, was purchased in early April for about $32,000 (9.69 ETH). The pixilated image, of a green-skinned astronaut standing on a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, is currently up for auction — and has been for months — with an asking price of 8,888 ETH (roughly $10 million). The most recent high bid was for 0.44 ETH — about $480.
He should have taken the $480. The current floor price for the Snoop Dogg’s “Doggies” collection is $249 (0.23 ETH).
The owner overpaid for this work. The person he bought it from had paid $420 to mint this NFT, then tried to flip it for $162,000, dropping the price every month until a big enough sucker came along. It finally sold for $33,000, which was much higher than any resales from this collection.
Bought for $1 million on October 5; sold for $8,300 on June 13
It doesn’t always pay to hodl. CryptToadz is an avatar NFT collection. In October 2021, a collector paid $1.05 million (300 ETH) for CrypToadz #2155, a pixel art image of a toad skeleton with big yellow eyes against a blue background. Eight months later, on June 13, as the crypto markets were crashing hard, he sold the NFT for 6.9 ETH (around $8,300)—a $1.02 million loss. It looks like the collectors was trying to cut his losses in the market downturn.
Bought for $513,000 on April 30; sold for $161 on June 1
On April 30, an NFT collector purchased Bored Ape #7256, an ape with Xs over its eyes, an army hat, and a dagger in its mouth, for $513,000 (188 ETH). On June 1, he sold the ape for $161(.088 ETH).
It’s hard to know for sure what happened, but this looks like a fat finger mistake by an overly anxious seller. During the days leading up to the sale, the seller, who goes by the username onekiller, posted and canceled listings for the ape several times, as if he wasn’t quite ready to take the leap. The listings were all between 250 ETH and 145 ETH, suggesting onekiller had full control of his account (meaning it wasn’t hacked), but no control over his fingers.
Bought for $50,000 on Aug. 9, 2021, sold for $115 on March 28
Mistakes happen! It just seems they happen more often when it comes to Bored Apes. Last summer, an NFT buyer named Calvin Chan paid $50,000 (16 ETH) for a Bored Ape with stubble, a leather jacket, and a cigarette dangling from its lips. On March 28, he sold the Ape for $115 (115 DAI) on OpenSea.
Chan could have sold his NFT for substantially more — there were other bids closer to the market value of the NFT that he did not accept — suggesting this was a fat-finger and that perhaps he got DAI (a stablecoin cryptocurrency pegged to the dollar) confused with ether.
He later announced on Twitter he had been “swiped” of this and another Bored Ape-related NFT. “I am fine. In shock, but okay,” he said. “Do I know what happened? No. Still trying to wrap my head around how and why.”
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