The Year of the NFT: Five Biggest NFT Milestones of 2021

Much can be said about the turbulent saga that was 2021. There were plenty of memorable events and notable movements, good and bad. In the NFT world, 2021 was the year it all came together.

Here is our brief retrospective of some of the biggest moments and milestones the industry experienced in the last year, as well as the possibilities 2022 may hold.

  1. Beeple’s “The First 5000 Days” sells for over $69 million.

Over the years, there have been several standout moments for NFT, but none compare to this one. The sale of this NFT artwork market several extraordinary firsts for the industry:

  • It was the first-ever NFT to sell for an eight-figure sum, making it the highest solo NFT purchase of all time by a long shot.
  • The sale also marked the first piece to be bought at a major auction house. Christie’s- one of the biggest names in fine art auctions- hosted the bidding. It was the first time a purely digital piece of art went up for auction at a house of this caliber.
  • Beeple- real name Mike Winkelmann- went from selling $100 prints to being labeled the third most valuable living artist, all because of this one record-smashing sale.

Technically speaking, it is no longer the highest-selling piece of all time, depending on who you ask. It is, however, the most iconic, as it helped to slingshot NFTs boldly into the mainstream world.

  • Opensea becomes the first NFT marketplace to reach $10 million in trade.

Opensea was the first full-scale NFT marketplace and is still at the top of the game. To cement its reputation as the original and best, the mammoth platform officially hit $10 million in trade volume in November 2021.

What makes this milestone all the more impressive is that it came only three months after it breach $1 billion. The growth rate and sheer speed at which the platform is expanding are hard to keep up with and say a lot about people’s general interests. From July to August, the trading volume on Opensea increased by roughly 800%!

  • March 2021 sees almost 40,000 unique NFT buyers.

March 2021 was the month that everything changed for NFTs in the mainstream eye. After the iconic and record-breaking Beeple sale, a record number of buyers was recorded.

According to industry-leading data research platform,, roughly 39,000 individual users purchased an NFT in March. It was a jump of almost 10,000 from the previous month.

On average, the monthly unique buyer count throughout 2021 is between 20,000 to 25,000. Compared to 2020, when most months saw fewer than 10,000, this is a significant increase.

  • An NFT meme sells for $4 million, eclipsing all other sales in its category.

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to hear that the Doge meme is the highest-selling NFT meme of all time. The famous Shiba Inu dog has inspired countless memes and even a whole cryptocurrency, so when the NFT sold for $4 million in June 2021, it was bang on-trend.

Before this sale, the Disaster Girl meme held the record at roughly the equivalent of $500,000, so there is really no comparison.

  • “The Merge” controversially became the most expensive NFT sale of all time- sort of.

Many people believed there would never be a sale to beat Beeple’s record of just under $70 million, and many believe they are still correct. However, technically, the record saw defeat right at the end of the year.

In December, Pak’s “The Merge” sold on Nifty Gateway for $91.8 million. Where the line blurs a little is that the sale was not to one buyer but to 30,000 different buyers who each bought tokens that contributed to the overall NFT.

The jury is out on whether or not it earns the title of most expensive of all time, but it is iconic and stirred up a whole new interest just before the turn of the year.

What Does the Future Hold?

2021 was a big year, with NFT officially becoming Colin’s Dictionary’s word of the year. When all is said and done, 2022 is set to be a whole lot bigger. More giant brands, celebrities, and corporations are breaking into the market and solidifying the non-fungible token as a mainstream asset that cannot be ignored.

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