Top 10 NFT Stories of 2021



Top 10 NFT Stories of 2021

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
These are the NFTs that changed the game this year. For this list, we'll be looking at NFTs and NFT collections that made the biggest impressions in 2021. Our countdown includes Grimes NFTs, Decentraland, Axie Infinity, and more!

Top 10 NFTs of 2021

Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 NFTs of 2021.

For this list, we’ll be looking at NFTs and NFT collections that made the biggest impressions in 2021. While value and sale price will play a factor, we’re also taking into account cultural impact and the role these NFTs played in helping to shape the future of non-fungible tokens.

Which NFT collection or marketplace are you keeping an eye on? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Grimes NFTs

This Canadian singer, musician and producer has never been one to play by the rules. Proving that her outside-the-box thinking extends beyond music, Grimes earned herself a place in NFT history when she dropped a collection of 10 original works of digital art on the Nifty Gateway in February of 2021. While some were one-of-a-kind, like “Death of the Old”, thousands of copies were made available for others, such as “Mars” and “Earth”. Altogether, the collection earned Grimes in the ballpark of $6 million dollars. When one of the pieces reportedly dropped 84% in value in late 2021, however, it was a reminder that the market for celebrity-made NFTs can be especially volatile.

#9: NBA Top Shot

With the massive explosion of NFT marketplaces, many brands have been scrambling to get in on the action. Take for example the Budweiser NFT collection that launched in November of 2021 and sold out within an hour. Of the many organizations that have gotten into the world of NFTs however, few have done it as successfully as the NBA. This unique NFT trading card system allows fans of basketball and NFTs to own a piece of NBA history in the form of digital highlights. While some Topshots can be purchased for just a few bucks, others, like a LeBron James highlight, have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. As of 2021, the Top Shots platform has reportedly done over $700 million in sales.

#8: Doge NFT

From a "top meme"of the year, to a cryptocurrency, to the stuff of NFT legends: Doge is one dog that you simply cannot keep down. Started in 2013, Dogecoin is an open-sourced cryptocurrency or “altcoin” with legions of dedicated investors who share a sense of humor. While it was created almost as a parody of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency has nonetheless taken on a life of its own—as evidenced by the impressive sale of this Dogecoin NFT. In June of 2021, the original meme was sold as a non-fungible token to the tune of $4 million. Dogecoin has cultivated one of the most passionate cryptocurrency communities around, and so it’s only fitting that the collective that bought the dogecoin NFT, PleasrDAO, has fractionalized it—meaning that people can buy into the NFT for less than a dollar.

#7: The First Tweet

Oh how the internet has grown! It’s hard to believe, but in 2021, Twitter turned 15 years old. Immortalizing the moment (in a new format), Twitter founder Jack Dorsey auctioned off the historic first tweet as an NFT in March of 2021. It sold for approximately $2.9 million, which Dorsey donated to Give Directly's Africa Response fund. While the value of an NFT can fluctuate drastically, the buyer certainly didn’t appear to have any regrets. After winning the auction, Sina Estavi tweeted "This is not just a tweet! I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting." High praise to match the high price of this iconic 5-word message.

#6: Hashmasks

Described as “a living digital art collectible,” Hashmasks encompasses 16,384 digital artworks, created by more than 70 artists hailing from around the globe. Each mask in the collection is actually the result of multiple artists contributing to the design work. One of the more fascinating things about Hashmasks is that, when originally sold through the marketplace, they’re randomized; buyers can’t actually see which hashmask they’ve purchased until 14 days later, and they vary in terms of rarity depending on the features of the mask. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of hashmasks is the fact that the pieces remain untitled works of art until the purchaser gives them a name. As of 2021, they’ve generated $16 million in sales.

#5: Decentraland

As the global population grows, and people continue to gravitate towards large population centers, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy property. And, as more and more of our lives (and assets, for that matter) shift online, people are beginning to wonder about virtual real estate. Enter: Decentraland. This virtual world is powered by the Ethereum blockchain, runs on the Mana cryptocurrency, and uses NFTs as proof of ownership of land. While there’s cheap property to be found in virtual space, it’s worth noting that some plots are already selling in the millions. Decentraland is not the only such NFT-based virtual world where you can invest. Mirandus and the Sandbox are two other popular options for purchasing land in the metaverse.

#4: Bored Ape Yacht Club

This one doesn’t require much introduction. Even if you don’t know the NFT, chances are that you’ve seen the merch or illustrations. Established in April 2021, the Bored Ape Yacht Club is an NFT collection made up of 10,000 unique ape illustrations. Their facial expressions, the color of their fur, and various accessories help distinguish one ape from the next. Now, while this is a pretty standard formula for NFTs, what sets the Bored Ape Yacht Club apart is the community that has built up around it. The people behind the BAYC have put together a number of initiatives, including real life meetups, free NFTs, online social spaces and more. Celebrity ape owners include Jimmy Fallon and Post Malone.

#3: Everydays: the First 5000 Days

This is the NFT that really broke the internet. Or at least… its sale price did. A digital piece of art, Everydays: the First 5,000 Days is made up of 5000 individual works of art created by the American artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple. Some are hand drawn, while many are digitally-produced, but they each represent one day in the 5,000 days straight that the artist spent creating. Beeple began selling NFT artworks in 2020. One of them, Crossroad, increased 100 times in value over the course of just one year after its initial sale. When Everydays: the First 5000 Days was put up for auction in 2021, it sold for a staggering $69.3 million.

#2: Axie Infinity

Launched in 2018, Axie Infinity is a metaverse game at the forefront of the NFT conversation. In it, NFTs are actually creatures known as Axies, which people can collect, breed, use in battle and sell to the highest bidder. More than just a blockchain-fueled RPG, however, Axie Infinity actually rewards players with an in-game cryptocurrency, Axie Infinity Shard, a token built on the Ethereum Blockchain. As the game’s website explains, because of how the game is designed, Axie is “partially owned and operated by its players.” In addition to the creatures, players also purchase land, called Terra. Given that the game boasts two million daily active users, it’s clear that Axies have become a popular investment. A plot of in-game land recently sold for $2.5 million.

#1: CryptoPunks

While virtual real estate is a fascinating frontier to explore, CryptoPunks remains the collection that really put NFTs on the map. One of the earliest such NFTs, having been started in 2017, Cryptopunks is a collection of 10,000 tokens depicting cryptopunk characters—each with their own distinct features. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is the formula and style that many NFT collections have followed. CryptoPunks, however, founded by software developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson, is widely credited with starting the trend. Cryptopunks were not only at the heart of the NFT boom of 2021, but have become a status symbol in the world of blockchains, with multiple sales occurring in the millions of dollars.