Bored Ape Yacht Club are NFT-pictures of apes, looking bored. Somehow, since they were launched in April 2021, these rare NFTs (only 10,000 in existence) have become incredibly popular and expensive. Ultimately, they sold the most valuable ‘Solid Gold’ fur Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, for 1080.69 ETH.
Now there’s a flourishing secondary market for Bored Ape NFTs and Yuga Labs has aimed high. And we need to ask ourselves, are we in the early stages of the creation of an active and healthy NFT art market or, is this a sign of even something bigger?
Until 2021, the four founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club were working day jobs and hustling with edgy art projects on the side. Witnessing the growing trend in crypto and NFTs, they pivoted into creating a series of 10,000 images of grungy apes.
All of these apes have similar unimpressed expressions. Some are smoking, wearing leather jackets, or eating pizza, and have been described in Rolling Stone as looking like “characters one might see in a comic about hipsters in Williamsburg.”
Not only have these NFT-based images become prized collectibles, but they also act as back-stage passes to an exclusive online club. This online club, described as looking like a sticky Tiki bar, is “a members-only canvas for the discerning minds of crypto Twitter.”
Bored Apes founder, Gordon Goner, told Rolling Stone that he always “goes balls to the wall.” Goner used to have a gambling problem, crushing it on the tables, before losing his winnings in slot machines on the way to the car. His appearance screams band “frontman”, complete with tattoos, dark circles under his eyes, to his brazen attitude.
This is a big gamble for Goner and his team that’s paid off in a massive way. So, it’s worth asking the question, how have they done it, and why are these NFTs so popular (and expensive)?
Goner and his three partners, Gargamel, No Sass, and Emperor Tomato Ketchup (not their real names, even Gordon), were active members of Twitter and other platforms where everyone was discussing blockchain-related projects. At the same time, they were running Yuga Labs, a Web3 company, alongside jobs to pay the bills.
BAYC co-founders have been known simply by their ape personas and nicknames until February. Then BuzzFeed published an investigation and revealed the identity of two of the four co-founders, waving the crypto community whether it is doxing or journalism.
During this time, the founders thought, why not give NFT collectors a place they can gather and share stories and content online? And with that, Bored Ape Yacht Club was born.
Given they were active members of online communities, it didn’t take long for the team to build hype around these NFTs. Plus, the plan included a launch roadmap and an online community, complete with numerous benefits for members. All of this contributed to their success.
Fine-art house Sotheby's was the first auction house to list 101 Bored Ape images, selling them for $24.4 million (a secondary market listing). Christie’s then sold four apes for $12 million. Another collector re-sold his Bored Ape for $2.65 million on OpenSea. A few weeks later, the most valuable Bored Ape was sold for $3.4 million, again at auction through Sotheby’s.
Buyers (and therefore, members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club) include high-profile celebrities, including Jimmy Fallon, Eminem, Post Malone, Justin Bieber, Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, Mark Cuban and Shaquille O’Neal, and others. Owners of Bored Ape NFTs benefit from commercial usage rights. Not only can they sell them for a higher price, but owners can create derivative products, or license their use.
Over 20,000 mutant apes have now been created, with 10,000 revered for current Bored Ape owners. For mutant apes to be created, Bored Ape owners must combine the NFT they own with a serum NFT, producing a whole new ape, or pets for apes, such as dogs. So far, between the sale and resale value of the original 10,000 and these 20,000 mutant apes, plus other derived NFTs, the overall value the Bored Ape Yacht Club has generated exceeds $1 billion.
Noah Davis, Head of Christie’s online sales department for digital art, says “In the eyes of most — if not almost all of the art community — BAYC is completely misunderstood.” However, it’s the membership perks which make them so valuable, as a global online hub for the most “like-minded, tech-savvy, and forward-thinking individuals on the planet.”
Originally, the 10,000 BAYC NFTs were all listed for 0.08 Ethereum (ETH), or around $300 at the time. Since then, the average floor price of a BAYC NFT has increased to 145 ETH, and they are attracting top-grossing sales on a regular basis.
For Yuga Labs and the BAYC founders, they’ve done incredibly well. A project that looked like it would go nowhere has made them overnight millionaires. Yuga Labs has hired more staff, including social media and community managers and a CFO.
Goner said, “We want to be a Web3 lifestyle company,” emphasizing that they are still growing, and now searching for new ways to be relevant, and innovate. He said: “I’m a metaverse maximalist at this point. I think that Ready Player One experience is really on the cusp of happening in this world.”
For BAYC itself, it's crucial to be above the whole NFT-competition. That's why developing a Play-to-Earn solution seems reasonable for them, as in March 2022, Yuga Labs announced their own metaverse, called Otherside, which will be launched on 30th April.
Yuga Labs did not reveal the details of the project, however, characters from the BAYC, MAYC, CryptoPunks and Meebits collections appeared in the then-published video. The company bought the rights to the last two in the same month.
In 2022 Bored Ape Yacht Club has become more than just an NFT collection, as it airdropped their APE token, and Coinbase announced an interactive three-part film about Bored Apes. Whether it suits the "Web3 lifestyle company" and can be the transition phase to the future Metaverse developments, I will deep dive into it in the coming articles.