It was supposed to be a landmark event for the world’s oldest auction house: on Wednesday night Sotheby’s held a single-lot sale of 104 CryptoPunks carrying the estimate of $20-$30M, the highest-valued estimate for an NFT or digital art ever offered at auction.
But as attendees were getting ready for the auction to begin after listening to a panel discussion, they learned the lot had been withdrawn. Champagne was still served as a DJ with a CryptoPunk mask played. The auction, called Punk It!, follows Sotheby’s record-breaking sale of CryptoPunk #7523 for $11.8 million in June 2021.
The failed sale comes amid a souring cryptocurrency market, with total market cap shrinking to $1.7 trillion from a record $3 trillion in November.
The group of 104 CryptoPunks were acquired together in a single blockchain transaction by anonymous collector “0x650d.” This stand-alone acquisition connects each of the 104 Punks with the same provenance—a wallet that currently represents more than 1% of the entire CryptoPunks collection.
While Sotheby’s did not immediately disclose a reason for the withdrawn auction, “0x650d” tweeted at the time of the sale “nvm, decided to hodl,” signaling the collector may have backtracked on the decision to sell the lot.