Who’s the Top Dog? The 7 Most Expensive Meme NFTs Ever Sold

Changelly
Who's the Top Dog? The 7 Most Expensive Meme NFTs Ever Sold
Changelly


Last Monday, an on-chain photo of a puppy in a knit beanie sold for slightly more than $4.3 million

While such a statement might sound absurd—and this might not make a huge difference—the dog featured in the photo was no random hound, but Achi: the Shiba Inu from the iconic Dogwifhat internet meme. 

At over $4.3 million, the Achi NFT became the most expensive meme NFT ever sold. But it was hardly the first. For years, the healthy overlap of internet and crypto cultures has spawned NFT incarnations of some of the most famous memes of all time.

Here’s a run down of the most expensive meme-inspired NFTs ever acquired. 

Minergate

1) Dogwifhat: $4.3 million

The Dogwifhat meme (cropped). Image: Foundation

This week’s massive Dogwifhat NFT sale—which clocked in at 1,210.759 ETH, worth $4,311,234 at the time of purchase—owes much of its success to the popularity of the original Dogwifhat meme, which emerged online in late 2019. But more than anything else, the piece likely fetched such an eye-popping price due to the runaway success of WIF, a Solana meme coin inspired by the meme that has exploded in value over the last few months. 

Since its creation in December, WIF has skyrocketed in value. Last week, the token reached a record $3 billion market capitalization, shortly after several WIF community members raised nearly $700,000 to plaster the face of Achi—the dog featured in the meme—on Sphere, the massive LED screen-covered arena in Las Vegas.

The NFT photo was auctioned by Achi’s South Korean owners, who netted some $4.1 million on the sale after fees—far more than they ever expected to earn from the photo of their puppy they casually took in 2018, auction coordinator Path told Decrypt. The photo sold to GCR, a prominent pseudonymous crypto trader, via an auction on the digital art platform Foundation. 

2) Doge: $4.2 million

Kabosu, the meme mascot of Dogecoin
Kabosu, the meme mascot of Dogecoin. Image: Very.Auction

Prior to last week, the record for most expensive meme-related NFT of all time was held by the godfather of all dog-related memes: the original Doge. 

That sale made waves back in the heyday of the NFT boom, on June 11, 2021—when an NFT of the original photo that inspired the Doge meme, taken by Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato of her Shiba Inu Kabosu, sold for millions of dollars (then a first). 

The NFT ended up selling for a larger sum of ETH than the Dogwifhat NFT: 1,696.9 ETH. Due to Ethereum’s lower price at the time, though, that sum equaled roughly $4.234 million. The Doge meme wasn’t just integral to internet culture at the time; it was also foundational to crypto, having inspired Dogecoin, the first-ever meme coin.

“Doge is perhaps one of the most important memes of internet culture,” Santiago Santos, a member of investment collective PleasrDAO, which purchased the Doge NFT, told Decrypt at the time. 

PleasrDAO then proceeded to split the Doge NFT into billions of fractionalized tokens, a move that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in value and has since fueled an entire ecosystem of Doge-loving crypto users. 

3) Pepe the Frog: $3.5 million

On October 5, 2021, the original Pepe the Frog Genesis NFT—created by Matt Furie, the artist behind the internet-famous green amphibian at one point co-opted by the alt right—sold for a whopping 1,000 ETH, worth about $3.5 million at the time of sale. 

Pepe, of course, does not only have cachet in general internet circles; the meme has long been deeply interwoven with crypto culture, and as recently as last year inspired Pepecoin, an Ethereum meme coin that’s seen major success.

Feels good, man.
Feels good man. Image: Matt Furie

The Pepe NFT represents the file of the first-ever comic panel drawn by Furie depicting the character, created in November 2006. It sold to Starry Night Capital, an NFT fund established by crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and pseudonymous investor Vincent Van Dough in 2021.

When Three Arrows collapsed in 2022, the liquidator behind the firm’s bankruptcy proceedings seized NFTs in its possession and began selling them off to pay back creditors. Just this week, as part of that liquidation process, Sotheby’s brokered a sale of the Pepe NFT to crypto executive Andrew Kang for an undisclosed sum. 

4) Charlie Bit My Finger: $760,999

One of early YouTube’s most iconic videos, Charlie Bit My Finger, made the move on-chain during the NFT craze of 2021. Why? The parents of the titular, then-teething Charlie and his older brother saw the success of other meme NFT sales, and hoped to turn their viral moment into funds that might cover both boys’ college tuitions.

The gambit worked quite effectively: On May 22, 2021, an NFT of the video sold for $760,999 to Dubai-based collector 3FMusic. At first, the family from the viral video planned to take the video off YouTube after the sale to increase the NFT’s significance. 3FMusic reportedly said they didn’t care if the video remained online, and so it remains on YouTube to this day. 

5) Nyan Cat: $590,000

Nyan Cat, a pixelated animation of a cat with a Pop-Tart for a torso, first took the internet by storm in 2011. Ten years later, the image’s creator, artist Chris Torres, thought to sell the animation as an NFT. The piece would go on to garner far more interest than many expected, and effectively kicked off the concept of meme NFTs as an asset class.

On February 19, 2021—just before NFTs permeated broader cultural consciousness—Torres sold the Nyan Cat NFT for 300 ETH, then worth about $590,000, to an anonymous crypto user.

In the months that followed, numerous other creators of famous memes followed Torres’ lead and began auctioning their own iconic images as NFTs—finally allowing them to meaningfully profit off of, and take ownership over, the pieces of internet history they brought into existence. 

“It kind of became a trend, not just for me, but for many meme artists that created anything since then. It’s always been kind of a struggle,” Torres told Decrypt in 2021. 

6) Disaster Girl: $430,000

One of those first legendary meme creators to follow Torres’ lead was Zoe Roth, who as a toddler posed in front a burning building with a subtle smirk that’s since become internet shorthand for taking pleasure in chaos. The meme, called Disaster Girl, was a foundational meme of the 2000s.

Disaster Girl
Disaster Girl. Image: Zoe Roth

In mid-2021, Roth auctioned an NFT of the original photo from the meme on Foundation. On April 17, it sold for 180 ETH, then worth roughly $430,000. The piece ended up with 3FMusic, the NFT collector who now owns several NFTs on this list. 

7) Overly Attached Girlfriend: $411,000

Spring 2021 was the heyday for meme NFT auctions; in fact, every piece on this list besides the reigning champ (Dogwifhat) was sold in 2021, in the months following the seminal sale of Nyan Cat.

Just weeks after that NFT auction, Laina Morris—the content creator immortalized in a 2012 meme as ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’—took the dive into blockchain tech herself, auctioning off an NFT of the photo from the meme on Foundation.

The sale went swimmingly, with Morris netting 200 ETH, worth $411,000 at the time, for the digital token. The piece went to NFT collector 3FMusic.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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