Digital art collections CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) are hitting multi-year lows in floor price. 

The lowest price to acquire a CryptoPunk slumped to 25 ETH, worth almost $88,000 at current prices, a level not seen since Aug. 2021 when the collection’s floor price jumped from 33 ETH to its highest point of 125 ETH, data from CoinGecko shows

Similarly, the floor price of an NFT from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection has fallen 94% to 8.68 ETH since its all-time peak of 153.7 ETH set in 2022. “BAYC just got kind of unlucky, they were so big and so representative of NFTs overall that scammers attached themselves to the brand like parasites,” wrote Carlos Mercados, data scientist at Flipside Crypto, in a Telegram message to Unchained. 

The decline of the two largest NFT collections by market cap, which have been acquired by Yuga Labs, has been fueling doubt about whether non-fungible tokens (NFTs) can reclaim their former glory from the last crypto bull market in 2021. However, some collections such as Milady Maker and Pudgy Penguins are exceptions.

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Generally, NFTs such as CryptoPunks and BAYC “haven’t proven themselves worthy of tens or even 100s of millions of dollars,” Mercados said. “While I do think NFTs have a place long-term (provenance, art, history), there’s a reason we’re seen most L1s and L2s besides Ethereum fail to have their NFT moment (Mad Lads on Solana semi-excluded).” 

Miladys and Pudgies Stand Out Amidst Blood Bath

Even though the NFT ecosystem is “showing few signs of coming back in the short term,” blockchain analytics firm Nansen’s Edward Wilson noted that a few NFT collections “buck that trend.” 

“Pudgy Penguins and Miladys are outliers in this market as they have become the identity of crypto twitter as they’re both highly engaged and crypto-native. This resulted in many teams, like LayerZero, ZKsync, and many others allocating a percentage of their airdrop to these communities,” said Wilson, who is neither a Pudgies nor a Miladys holder, to Unchained over Telegram. 

Unlike the two collections under the Yuga Labs umbrella, Pudgy Penguins and Milady Maker, the largest NFT collections behind CryptoPunks and BAYC with a non-zero 24-hour trading volume, have seen their floor prices increase in the past year. Per CoinGecko, Milady Maker’s floor price has increased 65% to 5 ETH in the past year, while Pudgy Penguins has seen its figure grow nearly 88% to 8.5 ETH.

Schizo-Posting Miladys

“What’s most funny to me is the NFTs that most symbolize a culture [do] not struggle at all with price,” said Flipside’s Mercado.

Not only are those holding a Milady “very serious about the culture,” but those in the community are “some of the most interesting artists in the world right now,” said Milady holder @Virotechnics in a conversation with Unchained, who argues that Milady Maker is an NFT collection that bleeds into fine art. “We’re live laugh lovers, and we put all our points into karma, charm, and beauty,” states the homepage of Remilia Corporation, the art collective behind Milady Maker. 

“Miladys is just chaotic, nothing seems to be able to knock them down a peg. The more negative press, the bigger they get,” Mercado said. For example, the floor price of the NFT collection dropped from 0.7 ETH to 0.067 ETH in about three days in May 2022 when Milady’s creator Charlotte Fang admitted to being part of an online cult before creating the collection, and yet the Milady floor price recovered by the next month. 

“Having a Milady (which I myself had a few and sold) and rocking the [profile picture] is the Twitter version of a middle finger. ‘Schizo-posting’ (posting as if having a schizophrenic episode) is a core feature of Milady culture,” Mercado added.

When asked what it’s like to be part of the Milady community, one crypto user who goes by @Dissensio_Owl said holding a Milady has “no utility,” but revealed that it does help with “having more street credibility as I [live action role play] as an anonymous character.”

Su Zhu and Kyle Davies, the co-founders of failed hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, are prominent figures who have Milady profile pictures. However, they aren’t entirely representative of the culture of Milady Maker, given how its ethos in part relies on pseudonymity, said @Virotechnic.

A Milady rave meme inspired by Plato’s allegory of the cave
A Milady rave meme inspired by Plato’s allegory of the cave. (Twitter/@NabokovT_T)

Part of Milady’s cultural status also comes from the raves community members organize, which take place throughout the US and often in cities with crypto conferences such as ETHDenver and CoinDesk’s Consensus in Austin. In contrast, attendees of a Nov. 2023 BAYC event suffered eye pain and vision loss, putting a dent in the reputation of BAYC events. 

“If you ever attended a Bored Apes party, you would understand why Bored Apes are worth zero,” wrote economist Alex Krüger in an X post. 

Pudgy Penguins’ Playfulness

Pudgy Penguins, in a similar vein, typically have a positive cultural and symbolic recognition, achieved by attracting long-term builders, according to Vest Exchange CEO Justin Ma, who has a Pudgy Penguin. 

While holders of other NFTs collections such as BAYC sold during the bear market, with Pudgy Penguins, “You had builders who stuck with the bear and continued to use their Pudgy to represent themselves.” 

Pudgy Penguins has a large presence online outside of the crypto ecosystem. For example, the NFT collection has nearly 460,000 followers on TikTok

Additionally, Pudgy Penguins creating an interactive game on layer 2 blockchain network ZKSync and distributing physical toys across many Walmart locations in the US are two examples of how the community is building. When a person buys a Pudgy toy, they also receive a QR code that enables the purchaser access to Pudgy World, the online game on ZKsync. Per Nansen, nearly 70,000 new wallets were created in the past nine months through the toys.

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Ma also recalls how wearing a Pudgy Penguin has helped make a good impression with others. “There are some people [like investors] that are very big Pudgy fans and when we connect, it immediately creates a good impression.” 

Nansen’s CEO Alex Svanevik, LayerZero’s founder Bryan Pellegrino, and Matter Labs’ head of business development Omar Azhar all have a Pudgy Penguin as their profile picture on Twitter. 

Content creator Remy Zee who has attracted 20 million likes for comedic skits made a TikTok where people shared a pick-up line with him in exchange for a Coach bag and a Pudgy Penguin plushie. “Pudgy Penguins succeeded in a playfulness that worked with real world things like plushies, cartoons, [and] gifs,” Mercado said.