Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.

Why is everyone hooting about cartoon apes?

Bored Apes are 2022’s hottest thing in crypto – but what are they, and why are they selling for millions of dollars?

Sometime around April last year, a series of gaudily illustrated anthropomorphic monkeys started creating something of a buzz on social media.

As we lurch towards the midway point of 2022, it’s fair to say that buzz has amplified into a virtual cacophonic rumble, as Bored Apes have swiftly become some of the most sought after – and most valuable – forms of modern art.

At launch, owning a Bored Ape would have set you back just less than $US200. Not that you could have bought it using cash, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

If you wanted to get your hands on one now, it would cost you between $US250,000 and $US300,000, that is if you found someone willing to sell.

But what exactly is a Bored Ape, other than a cute digital drawing of a monkey decked out in a flamboyant costume? And why does everyone want one?

Embed from Getty Images

Collectively, the artworks are known as the Bored Ape Yacht Club, a digital set of primate portraits that exist on the cryptocurrency Ethereum’s blockchain as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

And that’s where the concept starts to get complicated.

An NFT differs from an ETH coin in that it stores additional information, while other blockchains can also create their own versions of NFTs.

In addition to drawings and other artworks, NFTs can be anything digital – music, videos, pretty much anything that can exist in a digital space.

Bored Apes, which can only be acquired using ETH, were created by Yuga Labs’ Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow, who at the time were a pair of relative novices in the NFT space.

But it didn’t take long for the cartoon apes to become a symbol of the NFT market – within a year of launch, sales of the 10,000-strong Bored Ape Yacht Club surpassed more than $US1 billion in value.

The most valuable Bored Ape, a drawing of a sad-looking monkey wearing a propeller hat and unenthusiastically holding a party horn in its mouth, sold for $US3.4 million at a digital auction hosted by Sotheby’s in October last year.

With that sort of price tag, it’s little wonder that investors and art aficionados alike are showing  interest in NFTs.

Their appearance on Sotheby’s also underlines their appeal.

Sotheby’s, which was established in 1744, is more commonly known for selling jewels and contemporary artwork.

The famed auction house switched its focus in 2021, boarding the NFT bandwagon and selling 107 of the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection for a total of 9146 ETH, the equivalent of $US24 million.

So, if you’ve got the ETH and you’ve found a Bored Ape to buy, what do you actually get?

The purchase of an ape grants the owner the art piece along with a certificate of authenticity, which is all recorded securely on the blockchain.

An added bonus of buying a Bored Ape, which undoubtedly is part of its massive appeal, is that each owner secures admission to the ‘Yacht Club’ community, a series of members-only benefits created by Yuga Labs.

The community has evolved to become something of a status symbol, boasting members such as entertainment superstars Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Fallon and a growing line-up of high-profile athletes including Stephen Curry, Tom Brady and Shaquille O’Neal.

Beyond its on-chain success, Bored Ape Yacht Club is also quickly becoming a successful off-chain brand. BAYC owners are licensed to use their apes however they wish, including the sale of images in the likeness of their very own avatars.

Community meetups have even been organised around the world, including New York yacht parties and concerts highlighted by performers including Aziz Ansari, Chris Rock and The Strokes.

But it’s not only the commercial potential and the superstar celebrity backing of NFTs which makes them so exciting.

In the art world, Bored Apes and other NFTs are driving a renaissance of the contemporary art scene and the shift towards decentralisation, putting artists back in control of their work and their profits.

Bored Ape Yacht Club’s lead designer, a US-based digital illustrator known as Seneca, said the fact that a digital asset could be authenticated was revolutionary for the arts world.

“That changes the game entirely,” Seneca told cryptocurrency news outlet The Defiant.

“NFTs will give digital art a seat at the table in the traditional art market.”

About the author

Isaac Stewart is an experienced, innovative and passionate stakeholder engagement specialist with more than a decade in community engagement, government relations, investor relations and media management. Isaac holds a Bachelor of Communication from Notre Dame University and a Master of Business from Deakin University.

–with additional contributions from Adriana Madafarri

Trending on the 268