The most expensive club membership in the world in the era of the metaverse: an online dive bar bathroom stall filled with monkeys wearing fun accessories. Yes, we’re talking about the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of NFTs selling for millions of dollars and coveted by celebrities and techies alike. The apes have their own complicated ecosystem of valuation, based on rarity, earning potential and old-fashioned cool factor. Here’s your official guide to investing in BAYC.
A quick primer: What is the Bored Ape Yacht Club?
No two Bored Apes are alike, making the 10,000 NFTs particularly desirable as cool avatars for social media handles. The collectable avatars were programmatically generated from over 170 possible traits, including expression, accessories, headgear, and more. The limited collection from Yuga Labs is minted on the Ethereum blockchain along with many other popular crypto art projects like ArtBlocks.
As the name implies, there’s also a social aspect to the punky NFTs. When you buy a Bored Ape avatar, you also gain membership to the Bored Ape Yacht Club, an online community with exclusive benefits. One of these is access to The Bathroom, a collaborative graffiti art project modeled after the scrawling on doors of a dive bar bathroom. BAYC holders also automatically receive ApeCoin tokens – the new official cryptocurrency of the BAYC (more below).
However, there are other tools created by club members that bring the online community to life, like Discord servers where members get to know each other and discuss all things NFT. Being known as an internet insider also comes with other perks. For example, an exclusive invitation to join Alienverse, a collection of NFT art pieces by Marvel and LucasFilm artist David Masson with its own attached sci-fi-oriented community.
Offline, the social club is in full swing. BAYC members rock merch to show off their membership status IRL: punk-black yacht club hoodies, T Shirts featuring specific avatars, caps and even leather jackets. The club produces some of the coolest parties in the world, including Ape Fest in Manhattan, culminating in an over-the-top warehouse party featuring appearances by Lil Baby, the Strokes, Questlove, Beck, Chris Rock, and Aziz Ansari. More than 700 BAYC members showed up to the event as part of the NFT.NYC Conference, many eager to show off their newfound wealth garnered from their Apes.
Who founded the BAYC?
The Bored Ape founders were initially anonymous, identifying themselves on their website as, “four friends who set out to make some dope apes, test our skills, and try to build something (ridiculous).” They were known only by their internet pseudonyms: Gargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and No Sass.
A journalist from Buzzfeed news later identified the real identities of Gargamel and Gordon Goner by tracing publicly available records from Yuga Labs. Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow are both men in their 30s who met in a creative writing MFA program. Both men confirmed their identities on Twitter, begrudging their “doxxing” but taking the chance to open up to the internet about their real lives by posting photos of themselves next to their ape avatars.
The lead designer for the apes is Asian American artist Seneca, who did not receive royalties for her work with Yuga Labs. There is some controversy in the community, as Seneca claims her compensation for creating the imagery that is being sold for millions of dollars a piece was “less than ideal”. A representative from Yuga Labs responded to the claims, telling Buzzfeed News, “Every single artist of the original five were compensated over a million dollars each.”
Bored Ape pricing
When the original mint went on sale, each ape was priced at 0.08 ether (around $190). In the past month, the floor price (the lowest amount you can spend to join the project) has fluctuated between 68 ETH and 107 ETH (~$170,000 to ~$350,000 at the time, respectively). That price continues to fluctuate constantly.
If you’re thinking that’s a pretty wide range of prices, you’re right.
Similar to the markets for tangible collectibles like fine art or sports cards, the prices of collectibles tend to be based on supply and demand. Like most NFTs collections, Bored Apes were minted in a fixed supply. As demand goes up, so do prices.
Apes with rarer attributes are lower in supply, and therefore command higher prices. Sotheby’s, for example, cited record breaking ape #9917’s rare gold fur as part of the reason for the huge price point (less than 1% of Bored Apes have the gilded coat).
The rarest BAYC traits are:
- Bored Unshaven Pizza available in 26 assets
- Bored Unshaven Dagger available in 28 assets
- Black Suit available in 42 assets
- Solid Gold Fur available in 46 assets
- Blue Beam Eyes available in 49 assets
- Bored Unshaven Party Horn available in 49 assets
- Bored Pizza available in 50 assets
- Bored Unshaven Kazoo available in 61 assets
- Admirals Coat available in 64 assets
- Bored Unshaven Bubblegum available in 65 assets
- Trippy Captain’s Hat available in 65 assets
Of course, the supply and demand dynamic of NFT pricing is also a major source of risk related to investing. Demand could conceivably dry up just as quickly as it has exploded. As the number of different NFT projects continues to grow, prices could face headwinds. As is always the case with investing: make sure to do your research.
Marketplaces like OpenSea or LooksRare will allow you to compare the going rate of apes, as well as track apes’ past sales so you can track how the tokens have risen in value.
Most expensive apes
Like everything in the NFT space, the price tag on some of the Bored Apes can be surprising. Here are some of the most expensive ape avatars ever sold:
The current crown goes to ape #9917 whose shiny gold skin and propellor hat was sold by Sotheby’s for about $3.5 million.
#AuctionUpdate #BAYC #8817 sells for a RECORD $3,408,000 USD! This is the first time it has been made available since it was minted. Less than 1% of all Bored Apes have the gold fur trait. From the collection of @j1mmyeth #NativelyDigital pic.twitter.com/HfFTpEOIUh
— Sotheby’s Metaverse (@Sothebysverse) October 26, 2021
By ETH, the next most expensive Bored Ape sale cashed in at 1080.69 ETH (around $2.8 million at the time of transaction). The sale occurred on the LooksRare marketplace for ape #232 who has rare gold skin (noticing a pattern?) and a cheeky sailor hat.
Our third-place winner is #3749, also featuring gilded fur and dope AF laser eyes, who sold for 740 ETH (around $2.9 million at the time of transaction). This particular ape has been sold and resold a lot, increasing its value by sevenfold in a three-month span.
Commercial rights and the future of entertainment
We’ve seen how NFTs changed the DNA of investing, and next it seems we’ll see a revolution for the entertainment industry. Here’s the skinny: BAYC gives members full commercial rights over their avatars with no monetary cap, which varies from a standard NFT license which limits revenue to $100,000 per year. Yacht club members are taking full advantage of the opportunity and moving to stake their claim in Hollywood. Music producer Timbaland is creating an artist-owned ape metaverse for potential creative projects called Ape-In Productions. Hollywood agency CAA has signed Jenkins the Valet, a Bored Ape character, for commercial, movie and TV projects. Universal Music Group has signed a band of Bored Apes called KINGSHIP. Adidas bought an ape of their own and is creating a whole metaverse based on their avatar, with endless possibilities for shoe and apparel use.
In terms of investment, that also means that apes have value beyond what an individual sale can garner. The potential to take an ape into further commercial projects can create an entirely separate revenue stream for owners. One ape may be rarer than another, but if the less rare NFT character can get commercial work or join a band because of its visual appeal, that opens up whole new avenues.
Every day ape owners are finding ways to use their IP rights, from licensing their characters to a beer brand to running a Times Square promotional campaign for an ape NYC mayor. Many are developing long-term strategies for revenue from creating youtube content with their character to selling merchandise on Redbubble. Check out this Twitter thread to see all the self-reported ways BAYC members are making money from their commercial rights.
Launched on March 16th, 2022, ApeCoin is the cryptocurrency of a new DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) called ApeCoin DAO. It’s the official token of the BAYC collection. Yuga Labs, the company that owns BAYC, gifted ApeCoin DAO a 1/1 NFT that grants the DAO intellectual property rights to the BAYC.
Unlike the Bored Apes themselves, ApeCoin is not an NFT. It is a fungible ERC-20 (Ethereum blockchain-based) governance and utility token that gives owners a stake in ApeCoin DAO. ApeCoin holders become ApeCoin DAO members.
In addition, ApeCoin DAO members will get a say in decisions related to DAO finances, governance, and projects. Decisions will be carried out by the Ape Foundation, a legal entity formed to steward the DAO. The Ape Foundation’s board consists of: Alexis Ohanian, (Reddit & 776 Fund), Amy Wu (FTX Ventures), Maaria Bajwa (Sound Ventures), Yat Siu (Animoca Brands), and Dean Steinbeck, (Horizen Labs).
ApeCoin will also function as the Bored Ape ecosystem’s official currency. Like other cryptocurrencies, it can be used without centralized intermediaries, and the financial value of the token is determined by supply and demand for the specific token. Only 1 billion ApeCoins were minted, and this amount of supply is permanent. 8% of these tokens were gifted to the individual BAYC founders, 14% to launch contributors, and 16% to Yuga Labs and the Jane Goodall Foundation. The rest goes to BAYC NFT holders and anyone who buys in.
Celebrities who’ve gone ape
Another signal of BAYC’s “blue chip” status? The many celebrities who are increasingly appearing online as their Bored Ape avatars.
Here’s a roundup of the most famous members of BAYC and how much they paid for their NFT in the dollar value of ETH.
- Steph Curry bought his dapper suited ape for $180,000.
- Jimmy Fallon’s sea captain ape with heart-shaped glasses came out to $224,000.
- Shaq purchased his melty mutant ape for about $20,000 and even posted a video declaring his love for BAYC.
- Serena Williams was gifted her teary-eyed pink ape by her husband, costing $324,500.
- Mark Cuban’s cheetah print ape with a Hawaiian shirt and BAYC cap is currently valued at about $250,000.
- Eminem bought a yawning Bored Ape sporting gold chains and army hat for $460,000 after the original owner said it embodied the rapper’s energy.
- Paris Hilton purchased her ape with red fur and a black-chained leather cap for about $275,000.
- Snoop Dogg is an avid NFT collector under the pseudonym Cozomo de’ Medici. He went all out joining BAYC, snagging a full set—a Bored Ape, an M1 and an M2 Mutant, plus their designated Bored Ape Kennel Club pupper. It’s not clear exactly what Snoop shelled out for his avatars, but due to the sheer number of them it’s safe to assume he’s heavily invested.
How to buy an Ape
The initial sale of Bored Apes is finished, so if you’re looking to snag a monkey giving the world a middle finger of your own, you’ll have to do so on NFT resale marketplace like OpenSea or LooksRare. Since the collectibles are minted on the Ethereum blockchain, they’re sold in ETH. But be cautious: OpenSea recently banned PHAYC and Phunky Ape Yacht Club (or PAYC) collections for selling copy-cat NFT images.
You may be able to invest in BAYC without outright buying a single ape by being part of an investment collective like DOA, a decentralized crypto collective that owns 81 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. However, DOA is reported to be on the verge of auctioning off many of their apes. If they sell all 81, that could flood the market, making the NFTs more available and therefore less valuable. So whether you’re considering joining a collective or purchasing an ape from a liquidation, be sure to keep in mind how the overall market is doing before committing.
Mutant apes and the kennel club
In addition to the OG Bored Apes, there are two officially sanctioned branches to the BAYC family tree.
First, we’ve got Mutant Ape Yacht Club. There are 20,000 mutant apes in existence, making them about twice as common as OG apes. Mutant apes look as if the original apes were dunked in a vat of toxic waste, sporting melting skin and eyeballs that pop out of their sockets. A collection of mutant apes was minted as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain, but in a twist, there’s one more way for mutant apes to come into existence.
In August, every BAYC member was given a mutant serum, a potion that would turn their ape into a mutant version of itself. These potions are now being resold for more than apes themselves: Chain CEO Deepak Thapliyal recently bought a mutant serum for $5.8 million. The mutant serums have spawned the Bored Ape Chemistry Club, dedicated to the resale of the limited potions. They brokered $22 million in serum sales in the last week alone.
Second, there’s the Bored Ape Kennel Club. In June, BAYC gave every member a chance to adopt a free doggie pet for their avatar. The opportunity to claim your NFT only lasted a week. The only catch? For the six weeks following the Kennel Club launch, secondary sales on OpenSea attached a 2.5% royalty fee, donated to no-kill animal shelters. A great way to support charity through NFTs. The average kennel club sale is currently sitting around $28,000.
Be aware, there are other NFT makers trying to take advantage of the BAYC name by making similar-looking monkey NFTs or using a similar name. If it’s not from one of the official offshoots, don’t assume the NFT will have BAYC value. Heed the Bored Ape founders’ Twitter warning about fake apes.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club might be the center of NFT hype, but that doesn’t mean their value is smoke and mirrors. If you’re considering investing in the ape space, the same rules apply as any other investment: check for rarity, track the current valuation and its rate of return, and look out for scams.