Art/Design, News & Events

Christie’s sold NFTs worth $150 Million USD in 2021

The art market change of the decade.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Feb 5, 2022

Christie’s, the famous British auction house founded by James Christie in 1766, announced on Twitter that in 2021, they sold almost $150 million worth of NFTs “after establishing this new market first on the worldwide auction platform.”


The NFT‘s proportion of Christie’s total sales last year (which reached around $7.1 billion globally), is still quite small; the auction house’s total sales were approximately 54% more than the previous year. However, Christie’s numbers are the highest in the last 5 years.

Christie’s auction house continues to reign supreme in traditional art sales, selling two of the most costly works of art in 2021. The first, being a Picasso for $103.4 million, and the second being a Basquiat, for $93.1 million. On the same May evening, though, Basquiat sold nine CryptoPunks—possibly the world’s most renowned NFT ensemble—for a total of $16.9 million at auction.


In the beginning of 2021’s auction house catalog, Beeple was the most valuable NFT artist represented. In March, he sold the “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” NFT for $69.34 million at Christie’s. This offer is credited with kickstarting the NFT frenzy that swept the country in 2021 and continues today.


However, Pak (previously known as MuratPak) set a new record last month when he sold the NFT “Merge” for $91.8 million, making it the most expensive NFT ever.


Christie’s sold another Beeple sculpture, “HUMAN ONE,” a 7-foot-tall astronaut figurine that has been linked with NFT, for under $29 million in November, 2021. Christie’s and OpenSea teamed to sell a whole suite of NFTs in the same month.


Christie’s established position in the world of traditional art is believed to have helped elevate NFT art to a new level of legitimacy, as the total sales volume of the entire NFT market was anticipated to be $12 billion in 2021.


We’ve been closely following the rise of NFTs and how they’ve changed the art market over the last year. It is worth noting that even though the sales from NFTs are not the majority of the profit that auction houses made in 2021, they are still mind-blowingly high.


A couple years ago, NFTs were almost non-existent, and cryptocurrency was only whispered about in corners of the worldwide web. Now, we’re talking about major profits being made through NFTs and cryptocurrency. I, for one, am excited to see what 2022 has in store for us.


And, in case you didn’t already know, “NFT” was the 2021 Word of the Year. Auction house Sotheby’s has also entered into the Metaverse and the world’s first text message recently sold as an NFT for $150,000.


Photo via Christie’s/Larva Labs (2005), CryptoPunks, 2017