Bored Apes maker Yuga Labs acquires CryptoPunks NFT collection

Bored Apes Yacht Club maker Yuga Labs announced Friday that they have acquired the rights to the CryptoPunks and Meebits NFT collections from creator Larva Labs.

Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are the two most valuable NFT collections by market cap, and hold a combined worth at a minimum of some $3.6 billion at current prices. Yuga Labs has been rumored to be in fundraising talks over the past several months but has not made any official announcements.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

CryptoPunks and Meebits NFTs are owned by members of the community, but the intellectual property rights of the the characters had long (and controversially) been owned by the projects’ creators. With this announcement, Yuga Labs signaled that they will be giving full commercial rights of the NFTs to the individual holders; they notably won’t be transferring the full copyright, but is a step further than Larva Labs ever went and something owners had long desired.

Some big news to share today: Yuga has acquired the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections from @LarvaLabs, and the first thing we’re doing is giving full commercial rights to the NFT holders. Just like we did for BAYC and MAYC owners.

— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) March 11, 2022

“We’ve long admired CryptoPunks, and the work of the project’s founders, Matt & John. They’ve pushed NFTs and the broader crypto world forward, and we’re honored to carry the brands they’ve built into the future we’re building at Yuga,” a tweet from the Yuga Labs Twitter account reads.

The CryptoPunks project was launched in 2017 with 10,000 NFTs claimed by users for free; it is generally seen as one of the earliest NFT projects and one of the most influential. In late 2020 prices of the pixelated portraits began to spike with the rarest selling for millions of dollars and the cheapest now selling for nearly $200k. In May of 2021, the Larva Labs founders released a follow-up project called Meebits, banking tens of millions of dollars in primary sales within hours of launch.

The Larva Labs founders have almost fully divested from the project at this point, with Yuga Labs detailing in a blog post that they had also acquired 423 CryptoPunks and 1711 Meebits from the company leaving the founders with just a few of each in addition to their generative art project Autoglyphs which was not part of the deal.

Yuga Labs has taken a more aggressive path towards actively building out the community of the Bored Apes project, revealing a partnership

“This is, however, not an acquisition of Larva Labs… As for what’s next for us, we never talk about that until it’s ready, but in general we’re excited to get back to what we do best, which is working on weird new stuff,” a blog post from the Larva Labs founders reads.

Flashback to my CryptoPunks feature last year…

“It was never our intention for this to sort of be our careers,” [Larva Labs co-founder John] Watkinson says.

— Lucas Matney (@lucasmtny) March 11, 2022

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