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'Covid Alien' CryptoPunk NFT sells for over $11.7 million to billionaire buyer in Sotheby's auction

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A truck parked outside of Christie's auction house displays a CryptoPunk digital art non-fungible token (NFT) on electronic billboards on May 11, 2021 in New York City.
Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

A rare CryptoPunk sold on Thursday at Sotheby's for over $11.7 million.

Dubbed "Covid Alien," CryptoPunk 7523 is considered to be a rare NFT, or nonfungible token, collectible. It is one of nine "alien punks" in the entire series and is the only one with a mask.

The buyer, Sotheby's tells CNBC Make It, is Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of DraftKings. Meckenzie has a net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

The 7-figure sale set "a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk," according to Sotheby's.

CryptoPunks are an assortment of 24x24 pixelated avatars. There are a total of 10,000 in existence, and no two are exactly alike. Each has its own unique features and accessories.

Known as one of the earliest NFTs, the CryptoPunks project launched in 2017 by Larva Labs founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson. Originally, each CryptoPunk was offered for free, but many have sold recently for millions of dollars.

Two other "alien punks" recently sold for more than $7.5 million each, according to CryptoSlam, and seven other CryptoPunks sold for over $1 million. In May, a collection of nine CryptoPunks sold for nearly $17 million at Christie's.

"CryptoPunks have become among the most sought-after NFTs on the market," Michael Bouhanna, contemporary art specialist at Sotheby's, previously told CNBC Make It.

Prior to the sale, an NFT collector known under the pseudonym Sillytuna owned CryptoPunk 7523.

The last public sale of CryptoPunk 7523 was in 2017 for 8 ether, which was then worth $1,646. However, Sillytuna reportedly got the NFT more recently for an undisclosed amount — it isn't recorded publicly as typical sales are because it was done as an OTC, or over-the-counter, trade, Sillytuna told Cointelegraph.

Though Sillytuna is now a bit richer today, the NFT collector doesn't plan to keep all the profit, and will donate 10% of sale proceeds, according to a Sotheby's press release. Of that 10%, 5% will be given to Larva Labs to support development of more NFT projects, and the other 5% will be donated to Covid-19 relief organizations.

In addition, Sillytuna bought the "first" NFT created by Kevin McCoy, as Sillytuna wrote on Twitter, which was being auctioned alongside CryptoPunk 7523. Sotheby's says the winning bid for McCoy's NFT is $1.47 million.

"So happy to own the first ever NFT, Quantum," Sillytuna tweeted on Friday. "A piece of history. Let's see how we can continue its story."

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