Why I Spent $225k on a Pixelated Cartoon Image of a Cowboy Wearing a VR Headset
One NBA Top Shot collector's journey to the center of the metaverse
That was the look on my face the night of March 7th. The punk coming my way from Pranksy's "raffle" of 150 dev punks, had just arrived. Punk #447. The dreaded stringy hair.
I had spent enough time lurking in the Punks discord. I knew stringy hair was the one trait to avoid. Fate had other ideas.
Having only paid 6 ETH for the raffle ticket a few weeks prior, I couldn't be too upset. The punk floor was now close to 20 ETH.
I listed it the next day at 33 ETH. Raffle tickets had peaked near there and I would've been comfortable with it selling.
Fast forward. One month to the day. April 8th.
Punks were in a gradual downswing at that point. However, with that piece of major news, the floor rose from ~15 ETH to ~20 ETH.
I delisted #447. By that time, in about 1 month, I had grown to understand the value of owning a punk.
Even with my lowly stringy hair, the utility of ownership had become obvious:
Perhaps not by coincidence, I started tweeting in earnest the beginning of March. Shortly after swapping my avatar to #447.
My tweets are 80% Top Shot. The other 20% touch on areas that intersect with Top Shot: sports, collectibles, crypto/NFTs, technology, and business.
They seem to be resonating:
Top Shot already has somewhere north of 250k users. Interests range from disgruntled naysayers, to casual observers, to serious power users. A large number of people, myself included, spend serious amounts of time deeply enthralled with Top Shot every single day.
Is the Twitter “success” all because of the punk avatar? Of course not, but it damn sure helped accelerate my reach and credibility.
There are some very accomplished punk owners. If you do your research, it's quite obvious. Impressive guys and gals across a variety of fields. Many with access to extensive networks and knowledge bases all over the world.
Does it grant you access to anyone's speed dial?
No. Not even close.
Does it lower the friction normally associated with connecting to strangers on the internet?
So far the best deal flow I've received is one of the many alt-punk projects shilling their own bags. Not much to write home about.
Will that change if my thesis on punk ownership holds true? Undoubtedly. While punks are still early in establishing themselves as a signal of credibility, behold the scale of what’s already going down:
There will be a CryptoPunks mafia full of anons one day:
Let Me Upgrade You
I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to upgrade my punk. I evaluated my options with the following considerations:
Aesthetics & Scarcity
It's hard to say whether I'm drawn to certain traits based entirely on aesthetics. Or if a given trait's scarcity influences my opinion of its aesthetic. I'm sure the answer is some combination of the two.
Either way, I was now on the hunt for punks with the following traits:
Top Hat (115)
Wild White Hair (136)
Cowboy Hat (142)
3D Glasses (286)
Luxurious Beard (286)
Shadow Beard (526)
Big Shades (535)
Punk #5974 quickly caught my eye, but 82.5 ETH is nothing to scoff at.
For the analytics nerds: Detailed data on Punk rarities.
Punks are at their absolute all time high. Within the past year, this very punk has sold twice for under 2.4 ETH:
It's entirely plausible (but unlikely IMO) that the Christie's auction serves as one big "buy the rumor, sell the news" OG dump fest. We've all seen how Beeple prices have fared post-Christie's.
Good news: Beeple hasn’t shaped the entire generative and digital art space in the manner that Matt and John from Larva Labs have.
I was able to find solace in the recent sales history. Punk #4780, one of the only 2 other Cowboy Hat/VRs in existence, sold for 75.5 ETH just a couple weeks ago.
In the past month alone, this account has spent 1,998 ETH (~$5.5M) on punks. If I was overpaying, at least I was in good company:
Note: It's important for me to recognize that, relative to OGs, I'm at far too large an information and capital disadvantage, to ever risk trying to flip punks. I am buying to hold. The goal is to be equally prepared for it to go to nothing, as I am to accept an offer at the right price.
Punk #5974 is quite memeable.
It pays homage to the Old West. Yet it also comes with a built in VR portal to the burgeoning metaverse.
It’s a charming juxtaposition. Culture tends to agree:
Hence my new Yat: 🤠🚀🦄
For these reasons, on top of an unhealthy dose of FOMO, I listed #447 for sale 1 ETH below the floor. It sold in less than 10 min, allowing me to anxiously finalize the purchase of #5974.
To cap things off, I used this neat tool to give my new punk a custom background color. Mine = Lakers gold to match LeBron’s jersey from the famed Kobe tribute dunk.
You have to be living under a rock to not have noticed the recent bevy of punk-centric, strategic brand campaigns:
@punk4156 already has his own holiday, which included a massive exhibition and auction on 4/20 throughout the metaverse.
@beaniemaxi and the @thepixelvault team brought on Marvel and DC comic Chris Wahl to help produce The Punks comic. Early renditions look amazing.
Justin Aversano is leading an effort at his non-profit, SaveArtSpace, to transform advertisements into public PUNK art! As curated by @gmoneyNFT. Seen all over Miami recently and soon to be NYC and London as well.
@gmoneyNFT also called for an ape meme contest. Now the winner gets to rent a Zombie punk for two weeks through a new project cryptopunk.rent.
Each of these projects are incredible additions to the punks community. A true 1+1=3 phenomena. Intrinsic value accrues to owners of the core asset, while also generating net new, creative and economic opportunities for others.
5 ETH for Concept Art
I present to you my plans to buy 5 ETH worth of punk #5974 concept NFTs over the course of the next month:
Doing this as a bit of an experiment, as well as a small way to give back. Do me a favor and share this with anyone you know who might be interested :)
Excited to see what people come up with!
Is it obvious that Punk kool-aid exists and that I've had a healthy serving?
Does that necessarily mean the kool-aid is bad for you?
No. Not at all.
It goes without saying that nothing I've shared here should be considered financial advice. This is for informational purposes only and hopefully I delivered on that front. If you're ever considering buying a punk and have any questions, feel free to holler at me on Twitter @topshotfund.
These are 100% my own, unvarnished thoughts, and are subject to change on a moment's notice based on new information. Open to any and all critiques, just be civil!
Thanks to everyone on Twitter for your inspiration from afar. Too many of you to name, but Deeze curates the best NFT list there is.
This could be my first and only ever Substack. Zero promises, but in the event I write more and you'd like to be notified, please subscribe:
Pixels = power
Great stuff ✌🏼