ON–179: Crypto Art 🎨

Fading Fad or Signs of Life? Examining Crypto Art Onchain.

Aug 11, 2023

ON–179: Crypto Art 🎨

About the editor: Spencer Noon 🕛 is an independent crypto investor.

📝 Editor’s Note:

This week we go onchain to examine the crypto art space, whose meteoric rise in 2021 caught so many people (including myself) by surprise. But two years after this period of full-blown mania (check out these top sales…crazy), a question is fresh on my mind: was crypto art simply a fad or are there still signs of life?

Pictured Here: “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYSBY BEEPLE” which sold for $69.3M on Christie’s in March 2021.

The answer lies below, with ON–179 featuring onchain analysis from two of our best long-time contributors, Peter and Rantum, as well as RareView, a new platform for exploring and analyzing crypto art at a deeper level. Let’s get into it!


Crypto Art 🎨

📈 Average entry price for new crypto art buyers at 4+ ETH

  • Who is sticking around the crypto art space through the bear market? Who is leaving? The 3x insights below study subsets of collector behavior on SuperRare, the category’s leading marketplace, which helps us to uncover macro trends about the entire crypto art space.
  • One group, Quick Flippers (aka collectors who had resold an artwork within 3 months at least 5 times), were unsurprisingly active during 2021 as well as earlier throughout 2020. But flipper activity has died down since 2022, a healthy sign for the market. Note that the following charts use log scale for the y-axis. The bar chart across the top shows sales count grouped by month, with relative magnitudes helpful for visualizing purchase activity over time.
Source: RareView
  • While flippers have receded, there’s a group of active collectors who have consistently been buying crypto art throughout 2023. Interestingly, this group of active collectors was also relatively active during the “early years” of 2018-2020.
Source: RareView
  • New collectors who made their first purchase in 2023 have also been collecting relatively consistently in the $100 - $10,000 range, an attractive entry point for new collectors. The average entry price this year is 4 ETH or $7K.
Source: RareView
  • 💦🔬 Tx-Level Alpha: Using RareView's database of novel collector and artist tags, we can find instances where smart collectors are searching for works off the secondary market. In this July 22nd sale, the smart collector (Collin Dyer) purchased a work minted in 2020 by Jeff Davis, the Chief Creative at Art Blocks. The collector is also tagged as a loyal patron, having purchased many works from a single artist and a secondary market hunter, often going to the secondary market to find artworks to purchase.

② SuperRare 💎

📈 SuperRare crosses $300M in all-time volume

  • After years of relatively quiet building, the crypto art market went through a sudden boom in 2021. But as we can observe below, although the crypto markets have since quieted, groups of artists and collectors have continued crypto art’s steady growth. Each dot on the below chart represents an individual sale on SuperRare. The left chart shows sales less than $100K, and the right chart shows sales greater than or equal to $100K.
Source: RareView
  • The transparency offered by Ethereum allows us to see the onchain financial holdings of certain collectors. The chart below shows ETH holdings of “Smart Collectors” (whose net secondary sales totals at least $100K). Smart Collectors currently hold about 850 ETH in liquid holdings.
Source: RareView
  • Big Buyers (collectors who have spent ≥ $1M) were responsible for a relatively large amount of purchases in 2021, but have since quieted down.
Source: RareView
  • 🔬 Tx-Level Alpha: On July 14, 2023, crypto art collector Moderats Art purchased a work entitled "Crown of Flowers after Bouguereau" created by Matt Kane, for 37.77 ETH ($72K). The artwork is tribute to the artist's lost friend, and reflects on the inexorable passage of time. Using custom digital art studio software, it weaves layers reminiscent of William Bouguereau’s oil technique. This sale helped push the total volume on SuperRare past $300M all time. This was also one of the top 5 biggest sales of the month.

③ Prohibition Art 🖼️

📈 $178,157 in sales volume within one month of launching

  • One of crypto’s unique use cases is the combination of AI and onchain data: AI to generate random images based on an algorithm and computational elements and onchain data to prove immutability and hierarchy. Prohibition Art is a new open platform that allows any artist to create generative art onchain by utilizing the Art Blocks Engine. Since its launch in July, 62 unique artists have launched 90 projects on Prohibition Art, with 810 unique buyers minting 3,151 NFTs on the platform as well.
Source: Dune Analytics - @petertherock
  • Prohibition Art generated $178,157 in primary sales volume from 2,541 sales, averaging $70 per sale. On average, each project deployed on Prohibition Art had $1,979 in primary sales volume.
Source: Dune Analytics - @petertherock
  • Zooming in on the distribution of sales revenues, Prohibition Art has collected $17,816 while artists on the platform have earned $112,226 in royalties (13.7%. take rate). On average, each artist on Prohibition Art earned $1870.
Source: Dune Analytics - @petertherock
  • 💦🔬 Tx-Level Alpha: This transaction shows how real world mechanics can be programmed into smart contracts so that they can be executed according to the instructions input. From the transaction log, we can see that an artist has set what their % share of primary and secondary sales is (each 50% in the transaction) and where these proceeds should be sent to.

④ Art Blocks 🎉

📈 Price of top AB collections surge 10.8% in 3 months, while other top NFT collections drop 30%

  • Over the last 3 months the top 10 Art Blocks (AB) collections by floor price are up over 10% in price, while the top 10 non-AB projects, including popular PFP collections BAYC, Moonbirds, Doodles, and Azuki, are down over 30% on average.
Source: Dune Analytics - @RantumBits (with reservoir.tools data)
  • On average, floor prices for Top 10 Art Blocks projects have gained $13,926 more than Top 10 non-Art Blocks projects. While floor prices for non-Art Blocks projects have fallen by over $6,100, for Art Blocks projects they have risen by more than $7,700.
Source: Dune Analytics - @RantumBits (with reservoir.tools data)
  • Looking at the top 10 most expensive sales for Art Blocks and non-Art Blocks projects over the last 3 months, the prices of non-Art Blocks sales were over 230% higher on average than Art Blocks sales.
Source: Dune Analytics - @RantumBits (with reservoir.tools data)
  • 💦🔬 Tx-Level Alpha: Despite this, the top sale over the last 3 months belongs to Art Blocks with a Fidenza sale of 625 ETH.