“I'd love to hodl it as an heirloom”: We asked V1 CryptoPunk owners about their (forever) PFPs

“I'd love to hodl it as an heirloom”: We asked V1 CryptoPunk owners about their (forever) PFPs

We’re thrilled to announce that we've launched a community marketplace for V1 CryptoPunks—an OG community that formed around the initial CryptoPunks contract. That means the V1 Punk community now has their own place at v1punks.io where everyone can safely trade and wrap/unwrap V1 punks!

As you might've noticed, we're super bullish on community marketplaces tailored to specific collections, and see them as a very important step towards greater decentralization in Web3. Stay tuned, as we'll be shipping more on that front.

Back to the V1 Punks. No, technically those are not the same CryptoPunks that the web3 elite and celebrities of Jay-Z's caliber are flexing on Twitter. Yes, technically they’re also OG CryptoPunks and a very valuable piece of NFT history. Sounds confusing? Let’s set the record straight.

V1 Punks vs V2 Punks: origins and difference

When you look at the millions of dollars CryptoPunks fetch on NFT marketplaces and art auctions, their history is hard to believe: In 2017, Larva Labs let anyone with an Ethereum wallet claim them for free. You'd have to pay the gas fees, still, but those were way lower back then.

How did they go from free internet obscurity to million-dollar art?

Like with many art projects, the answer is in historical significance. PFP NFT projects took off in 2021, which made Larva Labs look prescient as CryptoPunk prices skyrocketed.

You can think of it like physical art: Would you rather have a random piece of cubist art—or a Picasso? Picasso commands a price premium because he was a pioneer of cubism. Similarly, CrpytoPunks command a price premium because they pioneered NFT PFPs.

Now imagine you visited Picasso’s studio. You see dozens of canvases, hundreds of brushes scattered throughout the place and a few paintings he left unfinished. But as you walk, you see a trapdoor in the floor. You open it, walk down a set of stairs, enter the basement…
…and find a stack of finished Picasso paintings which never saw the light of day.

That’s basically what happened when the CryptoPunks V1 contract was discovered. Larva Labs had initially deployed a faulty smart contract that prevented safe trading of CryptoPunks NFTs. That smart contract never minted out—and was replaced by the CryptoPunks contract we know.

But last year, those initial Punks resurfaced—and after a team of NFT archeologists led by FrankNFT.eth created a wrapper that made it ERC-721 compatible, V1 Punks became safe to trade on any marketplace. A community quickly formed around the V1 Punks that now exists alongside the V2 Punks. The collections mirror each other—and besides the background color (V1’s is soft lavender), the Punks and their traits are exactly the same.

While the debates around which version is the real OG PFP collection seem pointless, we can say:

V1 Punks and V2 Punks occupy their own niches in the NFT space. As Chris Cantino noted, the recent Yuga Labs acquisition of CryptoPunks technically also led to Yuga Labs acquiring V1 Punks—although the BAYC creators have shared no plans regarding the collection so far.

But what matters more than official statements is the community. We spoke with some key holders about their PFPs, what traits they like best and why they believe V1 Punks matter.

V1Punk #8498 aka hemba

Key trait: Ape Body

Why did you buy that particular Punk? How much did you get it for?

I bought my tophat ape a few months ago for $300k because it represented good value. Apes are arguably the most aesthetic Punk types and they are (for now) still at an 'accessible' price point.

How would you describe the V1 community?

It’s made up of people who love CryptoPunks and understand the project's amazing history and legacy. CryptoPunks inspired so much of what we see today in NFTs. Credited with being one of the inspirations for ERC721 token format, perhaps CryptoPunks even inspired the concept of a digital collectible as a profile picture or online identity.

I think it's cool that the community is all on the same journey together whilst being a mixture of old and new market participants and current Punk owners or future Punk owners. It's a really positive space and I think everyone can see the potential of V1s as a true collector's item. We're all chipping in to make it work.”

V1 Punk #1507 aka FrankNFT.eth

Key trait: Cowboy Hat

How did you end up owning #1507?

It was gifted to me by Hemba. That PFP is a cowboy and I like to see myself as a cowboy in the NFT scene. The cowboy hat, the earring... and the grin on his face—I think it is very me. Although I don’t have an earring IRL.  

What does the V1 community mean to you?

It’s very special as it has very strong bounds and diamond hands. There are 0 flippers in the community making the Discord a very nice place to be. We mainly talk about opportunities and not about floor price.

V1 Punk #7758 aka irishnftgal

Key trait: Blonde Bob

Why #7758?

It came as a result of hard work and belief in the Web 3.0 system. I would absolutely love to hodl it as an heirloom.

As for its traits, the mole has the most meaning to me as I have one too in the same place. The eyepatch resembles curiosity. The simplicity of Cryptopunks pixel art is the opposite of what I would usually do myself as a pop-art painter.

I originally started NFTs as a way to retire so I wouldn’t have to rely on the standard pension scheme, so my Punk shows a stamp of belief in the future of self financial freedom. In a way, it also reminds me of the innocence of the time I first started out using social media like Bebo and MSN.

What are V1 community’s core values?

That could be a full interview in itself. The main core values are historic blockchain provenance in a transparent ecosystem. The V1 Community is family to me. I host their Twitter spaces every week, the best part is getting to know the community better. I fully believe that this project will prevail as that lost NFT story that was rejuvenated thanks to the community.”

V1 Punk #4770 aka Sean Bonner

Key trait: Hoodie

Is #4770 your forever Punk?

I don’t know that it’s my “forever punk” as I could see a few situations where I might trade up, but I really like it and it’s definitely my “for now punk.” I’ve wanted a hoodie punk for a very long time and this fills that bill nicely. #4770 does actually look a little bit like me which is why I’d be open to upgrading to something less on the nose.

How did you come across the V1 community?

I learned about the existence of V1’s summer of last year and spent a few months trying unsuccessfully to find anyone who knew anything about them. I was losing hope until earlier this year when I learned about the new wrapper. I have very mixed feelings about the money around collectibles and prefer trading whenever I can - I was lucky to find someone who wanted something I had and was willing to part with their punk in each age.

I think CryptoPunks are the most influential and culturally important piece of digital art at this moment and so using it as my pfp is kind of a nod to that significance. I think some recently purchased V2 punks are used like a flashy Rolex to flaunt wealth, but the V1 is more a show of respect and understanding of the history and importance.

Who forms the V1 community?

In my opinion, the majority of people in the V1 community are long game collectors who understand the cultural significance of the project and want to be a part of that story. I like that and find it to be more in line with my own feelings about collecting, as opposed to the focus on massive overnight returns that I think a lot of other communities in this space are subject to.

I think people largely understand that everything happening in the NFT space right now can trace its roots back to these little V1 avatars and that’s pretty cool.

V1 Punk #4572 aka NunoCostaPT.eth

Key trait: Purple Hair

What does #4572 mean to you?

It’s very special. I just bought it two months ago when V1s were delisted from OpenSea. I took advantage of that bad phase to make a good deal for this beautiful, sexy four traits Purple Hair Punk. It resembles myself completely: the hair, the glasses, the moustache and that overall “surf” style he carries. I’ve always loved surfing—here in Portugal we have amazing waves.

What are your favorite Punk traits?

Overall, my favourite traits are Zombie, Top Hat, Tiara, Wild White Hair and Purple Hair. I am lucky to have them all except the zombie one…yet!

Why did you get a V1 Punk in the first place?

As we all know, it was due to the HUGE success of the V2s that someone (Frank) wrapped the contract and got the V1s back to life. So as a collector, I needed to have the original Punk—and that’s how I bought my first V1. After getting to know other V1 owners, I just had to buy more because this community is really amazing… everyone is friendly, nice and polite.

We are a big family now. We really enjoy hanging out together and chatting about anything, basically. And we’re all united by a common sense of owning a piece of blockchain and NFT history. We know that, LarvaLabs knows that, and YugaLabs knows that too, since they now own 1084 V1 CryptoPunks!

V1 Punk #7270 aka Elypse

Key trait: Knitted Cap

Why did you choose that punk?

The Knitted Cap is my favorite Hair trait. Originally I minted #7270, along with some other Punks, in 2017 on the first Larva Lab's Punk contract. We were a very small group back then testing out these new technologies.

I’m still in the process of getting a hold of my forever Punk, however. I want to get #5617 for 3 reasons: Knitted Cap, Luxurious Beard to match my own irl, and 3D Glasses because that is my favorite overall Punk Trait. If I can get a hold of that Punk, it would be because it most closely resembles myself, along with my favorite two traits: Knitted Cap and 3D Glasses.

What do you like about those traits?

In the V1 Discord, we have a list of what we call the OBG Punks, or Orange Beanie Gang, and we have a running list of whoever is in that subgroup of Punks. So if you have a Knitted Cap, or as we call them Orange Beanie, then you are in the gang. It's just a fun way to play off the individual traits and bring them to light in their own special kind of way.

3D Glasses, in turn, have always been my favorite Punk trait. Primary colors resonate with me as I have a deep passion for de stijl style architecture and art. That is my main profession, architecture, and the simplicity of the Punks paired with those contemporary details, connect with me on a few different artistic levels.

What can you say about V1 Punks as a collection?

Punks wouldn't be where they are now without a big community behind them. Tens of thousands of people love these individualistic pixelated characters. They can convey so much about a personality with just simple colored squares. One thing is for sure, NFTs will continue to progress in many meaningful ways, and Punks lead that charge many years before the earliest marketplace was even thought of.

The people involved since then have experienced the highs and lows of the markets, but the Punks remain. These are beyond collectibles, these are a digital cultural revolution.

In 1995, Robert Metcalfe said, "I predict the internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." Ironically having been a pioneer in introducing its components, he ended up literally eating his words at a future tech conference. And today we are approaching a new paradigm in what is a combination of that technology overlaid onto our physical world. Together, as we continue to build Punks as a community, it will further ingrain them as an epitome of PFPs. Many other beautiful projects have come into the scene since then, but these will always exist in the class of their own.