What do Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Steph Curry and Snoop Dogg all have in common? They're all members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a prestigious collection of 10,000 ape avatar NFTs with different traits and attributes. You can see three Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs above -- that middle one with the captain's hat is Jimmy Fallon's.
And what makes BAYC "prestigious"? Well, right now the minimum cost of entry is 71 ether. That's about $267,000.
If you spend any amount of time online, particularly Twitter, you've probably already seen a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. These act as both avatars and tickets to an online social club. Having launched in April for 0.08 ether each (about $190), owners of BAYC are either crypto-savvy enough to be early to the NFT boom or wealthy enough to buy in now that the collection has acquired cultural weight.
Beyond the celebrities that are buying in, Bored Ape Yacht Club is increasingly becoming an off-chain brand. (That is, a brand that exists outside of the blockchain.) Adidas partnered with BAYC for its first NFT project, a mobile game is in the works and one ape from the Club last year graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Like everything else to do with NFTs, the Bored Ape Yacht Club is contentious. Ape owners inspire jealousy among those who own and trade NFT art but confusion and suspicion among people who don't. Like cryptocurrency, NFTs are highly volatile. That leads detractors to predict the eventual collapse of what they call is a bubble.
Here's what you need to know about the collection.
There are 10,000?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of NFT art. First, you have one-off visuals that are sold as non-fungible tokens, just like paintings in real life. Think the each ranked in terms of rarity. In the case of BAYC, there are 10,000 apes, each with different "properties" -- varying fur types, facial expressions, clothing, accessories and more.that were sold at Christie's for as high as $69 million. Second, you have NFT collections or "projects," like the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Kind of like Pokemon cards, these take a template and produce hundreds or thousands of variations,
These properties are displayed on OpenSea, the main platform where NFTs are traded. On any given NFT's page, its properties will be listed as well as the percentage of NFTs in the collection that share the property. Usually, anything under 1% is considered rare. For example, take a look at the trio of apes at the top of this article. On the right you'll see one with a rare "Solid Gold" fur trait. Of 10,000 apes, only 46 have this property, making these 46 particularly valuable.
As noted, the "floor price" for the project -- what you'll pay for an ape with common traits -- is 71 ether. Apes with the golden fur trait are rare, and so sell for much more. Last week someone bought one for 333 ether, or $1.36 million. One with gold fur and laser eyes, two sub-1% traits, went for $3 million two months ago.
BAYC is the second biggest NFT project of this kind, behind only CryptoPunks. CryptoPunks is a collection of 10,000 8-bit avatars created in 2017 and gets much of its value for being the OG NFT collection. For the second half of 2021, CryptoPunks had a floor price of around 90 ether. That's dropped a bit in the past few weeks, and Bored Ape advocates are hoping the BAYC floor price overtakes CryptoPunks, which in the NFT space is referred to as "the flippening."
What makes Bored Ape Yacht Club valuable?
This is a complicated question. The short answer is that, as with real-world art, value is very much in the eye of the beholder.
Let's start at the beginning. Bored Ape Yacht Club was launched in late April by a team of four pseudonymous developers: Gargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup and No Sass. It took 12 hours for all 10,000 to sell out at a price of 0.08 ether, or around $190. As you can see in the price chart below (the price on the Y axis is in ether), the price grew steadily from April to July before rocketing upward in August.
What makes BAYC or any other NFT collection valuable is highly subjective. Broadly, it's a mix of three things. Influencer/celebrity involvement, community strength and utilities for members.
The first is obvious. When famous people own an NFT, it makes others want to own one too. A recent example is Jimmy Fallon. The Tonight Show host bought a BAYC on Nov. 8 (for a cool $145,000) and for weeks after used it as a profile picture on Twitter, where he has 50 million followers. That's brought a flurry of hype and sales, which is reflected in the sales volume and price rise you can see on the right of the above chart.
Second, utility. Most NFT projects claim to offer a utility of some sort, be it access to play-to-earn games or the option to stake an NFT in exchange for an associated cryptocurrency. Another high-value collection, CyberKongs, earned notoriety for allowing owners of two Kongs to breed a BabyKong NFT.
Bored Ape Yacht Club has done a few things to keep owners interested. First, it created the Bored Ape Kennel Club, offering owners the opportunity to "adopt" a dog NFT with traits that mimic those of the Bored Apes. Another freebie came in August: digital vials of mutant serum. Owners could mix their Bored Ape with the serum to create a Mutant Ape NFT. Both Kennel Club and Mutant Ape NFTs sell for a lot. In recent weeks, the Mutant Ape Yacht Club collection has blown up, with the floor price rising from around 4 ether in November to 15 ether ($55,000) now.
Last and most important is the community that's built around a collection. Bored Ape Yacht Club has organized meetups in New York and California and there have been Bored Ape get-togethers in Hong Kong and the UK, too. Most recently, a weekend of festivities for owners was held in New York, featuring an actual yacht party and a concert that featured appearances from Chris Rock, Aziz Ansari and The Strokes.
Of course, there's a business aspect to developing a community. Art of any kind is worth only as much as people are willing to pay for it. In an NFT collection, the floor price is essentially equal to what the least-invested members are willing to sell for. People believing they're holding a token into a community results in fewer people listing their apes for sale. Selling your ape isn't just selling an NFT, but a community pass too.
Plus, once a collection reaches a certain level of value,. People in the cryptocurrency and NFT space use profile pictures for Twitter, Discord and other platforms like chief executives wear Rolexes. You can download a JPG of a Bored Ape just like you can wear a $10 Rolex knockoff. In both cases, though, people will know.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is slowly expanding out of NFTs and becoming an "offchain" brand -- that is, one that exists outside of the blockchain. On Dec. 21 it was announced that Yuga Labs, the team behind BAYC, is teaming up with developer Animoca for a play-to-earn game coming in 2022. Benefits for BAYC owners are likely.
The Bored Apes are also integrating themselves into fashion. Adidas launched its first NFT project, Into The Metaverse, in collaboration with several NFT brands, Bored Ape Yacht Club chief among them. Adidas also bought a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, which now adorns its Twitter page.
More unusual, though, is what people are doing with their apes. Owning a Bored Ape NFT gives you full commercial rights to it, and holders are taking advantage of that in some creative ways. One Bored Ape owner set up a Twitter account for his ape where he created a backstory, turning him into Jenkins, a valet that works for the Yacht Club. In September, Jenkins was signed to an actual real-world agency. He's getting his own biography -- written in part by New York Times bestseller Neil Strauss. Universal Music Group has invested by signing a band consisting of three Bored Apes and one Mutant Ape.
You might think NFTs are silly -- and terrible for the environment -- but don't expect the Bored Apes to disappear anytime soon.