Mark Cuban called Cryptopunks “the rookie card of NFTs”.
And it’s true.
While NFTs are now blowing up seemingly overnight, Cryptopunks were released all the way back in June of 2017 — which in crypto terms is like saying 50 B.C.E.
Cryptopunks is an NFT project released on the Ethereum blockchain by Larva Labs, and consists of 10,000 unique pixelated characters. Some are human, some aliens, some zombies and some apes. Each punk has certain attributes that are of a different level of rarity amongst the entire fleet. For example, exactly 961 punks have cigarettes in their mouths. And only 44 have beanies.
There will only ever be 10,000 original Cryptopunks in existence. As they gain in popularity, so do their prices. At the time of this writing, the least expensive Cryptopunk for sale is listed at 13.25 ETH (~$26,500). In fact, after refreshing my browser, the floor has already moved up to 13.30 ETH. It could very well be higher by the time you read this.
If you believe this trend upwards is here to stay, then now would be the best time to get your hands on a punk. Here’s a walk through on how to go from fiat currency (e.g. US cash) to owning your very own cryptopunk…
Before we jump in, know that there are several cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets to choose from when entering the crypto market. The following are simply examples using some of the most commonly used products. Also, cryptocurrencies and NFTs are very volatile in price. Please be aware that this is not financial advice and we encourage you to do your own research.
Cryptopunks are bought and sold in Ether (ETH) — the native currency to the Ethereum blockchain. So first thing’s first, you need to turn cash into ETH.
There are many different options when it comes to “onramps” into Ethereum — a fancy way of saying that you’re buying ETH and taking one step further into the Ethereum ecosystem. One of the easiest places to do this is on a popular cryptocurrency exchange called Coinbase.
Coinbase is a centralized exchange, meaning your money is “in their vault” so to speak. But Coinbase is a large and highly trusted company, and you will soon be moving your newly purchased ETH into your own (digital) hands.
That said, there are a lot of different onramps that come in all shapes and sizes — some are decentralized, some have higher fees, some lower fees, some that allow you to buy ETH directly “inside” a digital wallet. Be sure to do the research and find what onramp works best for you.
Once creating your account and verifying your identity on Coinbase, you can then buy Ethereum with a debit card, bank transfer or wire. These differ depending on your location. Typically linking your bank account is the quickest way to get things up and running.
With your bank account hooked in, you can now buy ETH. Choose the amount you want to buy, and you’ll then see the full price after Coinbase’s fee.
Now you’ve got Ethereum in your Coinbase account. Amazing.
But in order to play on the Ethereum blockchain, you need to move that money into a digital wallet. That’s when you become the true owner and operator of your own cryptocurrency, and that is what leads to the many exciting new freedoms that this world brings about.
It’s kind of like in the olden days when you had to go to your bank and take out cash in order to pay for things. Coinbase is like one of those banks, and they’ve got this big vault with tons of crypto in there. And now you’ve come along and bought some Ether. So in their books they say, cool, Person A now owns X amount of the ETH in our vault.
But now you want to take that crypto out into the streets of Ethereum. You want to walk around, peruse, buy things. Once you transfer your funds to a digital wallet, you are no longer interfacing with the Ethereum blockchain through Coinbase. You yourself are interfacing with the blockchain, and that’s when things get really interesting.
The most popular digital wallet is Metamask. Again, there are a ton of options in this space. Some other wallets options include Argent, Rainbow, Exodus and Loopring. Be sure to do your own research and find the one that works best for you.
Metamask acts as Chrome browser extension, iOS app and Android app. It connects with most if not all websites built on the Ethereum network. You can interface with these platforms through your wallet in order to do things like sign up, verify your identity, buy things, sell things, hold your token inventory, and many more.
To setup your Metamask, first download and install it to your device. We will use the Chrome browser extension in this example. Once downloaded, click on Create A Wallet. You will then be asked to setup a password, and then you’ll be given what is called a Seed Phrase.
A seed phrase is a string of random words that acts as your last backup piece of security. Should you forget your password, or even if Metamask the product disappears off the face of the Earth, your seed phrase is your forever password to restore access to your wallet. So, keep it safe. It’s rather important.
Once inside, you can click on Account Details to retrieve your wallet’s address. Copy it to your clipboard, as you’ll need this to send your ETH from Coinbase to your wallet.
Head on back to Coinbase and hit Send/Receive. You’ll get a popup like this. Paste in your wallet address that you just copied from your Metamask account, and choose how much ETH to send over.
Once you hit send, the transaction may take a few minutes. Soon your ETH will populate into your Metamask wallet.
You are now ready to rock n’ roll. Correction, you are now ready to punk.
Now you’ve got your very own digital wallet, and a chunk of ETH sitting pretty. Time to buy a punk.
The primary and secondary market for Cryptopunks exist on the Larva Labs website. But let’s be clear, even if the website larvalabs.com was to go down tomorrow, you and everybody else would still own and be able to trade their Cryptopunks. A platform built atop the Ethereum blockchain is simply an interface between you and the chain. So rest assured, these punks aren’t going anywhere.
Once on the Larva Labs site, there will be a link to connect your wallet to the site. Once you hit that, a dropdown will appear from your Metamask asking if you are sure you want to connect to the site.
Click Connect, and you are now able to buy a punk with your wallet. This. Is. Huge.
Once connected, a box on the right side of the screen will show part of your wallet address in pink. Click that and you get to your Account Details — this is where you’ll be able to see the punks you own.
Here you can see all Cryptopunks currently up for sale in the secondary market. You have the choice of buying these at their listed prices right away, or placing a bid any of the 10,000 punks.
Take some time, feel it out, find the one that speaks to you. But maybe don’t take too long. The speed they’re selling at these days is kinda crazy.
Alright! You’ve found your punk. Time to buy!
When you hit the Buy button, another window will drop down from your Metamask to review and confirm the transaction.
Here you will also see a transaction fee called the “Gas Fee”. This is the amount it costs to run your transaction on the Ethereum blockchain, which fluctuates according to the transaction congestion across the entire chain. Gas prices are quite high relative to what they were not too long ago, and the minimizing of this fee in the future is a huge topic of conversation in the space.
For now, this is the price to play. It does move up and down throughout the day though, and there are resources to watch if you want to snag it at an opportune moment.
Once you hit Confirm, the transaction will begin and — depending how much gas you paid — will take a couple to more than a couple of minutes to go through.
And then, well, you’ve got yourself a Cryptopunk. Congratulations!
Btw… what are you selling it for? Asking for a friend. 🙂