It has been an absolutely wild year for NFTs, and 2021 is definitely the year of the NFT, even Google says so. A few days ago the number of searches for “NFT” officially surpassed that of “crypto.” So much has happened this past year, and so much keeps on happening! It has been an incredibly exciting year for most us who have been active in the space daily, whether it is creating, building, selling or buying.
We decided to end off the year at NFT Plazas with a special feature dedicated to the top NFT stories of 2021, selected month by month from January to December 2021.
Thank you to all our readers who have been with us and continue coming back, next year we will deliver even more epic content. We have a lot in the pipeline, so get ready for an unforgettable 2022. Happy New Year to everyone, WAGMI!
Below you can download the images showing the NFT highlights of 2021, and keep reading further for the details of each story.
DCL Plazas Rebrands to NFT Plazas
We started the year off with rebranding from DCL Plazas to NFT Plazas, moving away from solely focusing on Decentraland and metaverse news and expanding to include the whole NFT ecosystem. What a great move!
100xARt District Launches Art Event in Decentraland
One of the first groundbreaking art events in Decentraland for 2021, featuring some of the top artists and collectors in the NFT space. The beginning of many art events and shows in the metaverse.
Arkane Partners With Battle Racers For New Matic NFT Marketplace
The humble beginnings of many partnerships between NFT platforms and Matic, now known as Polygon! Who even remembers it being called Matic? Arkane launched its first Matic NFT marketplace, and this was really the start of many projects soon integrating with Polygon.
Gary Vaynerchuk Buys Sorare NFT for Over $22k
Remember Gary Vee’s first big move into the NFT space? No, you probably don’t because so much has happened since then. But this was Gary’s first major announcement in support of NFTs – his 22k purchase of a Sorare NFT. And look where he is now, making a killing with his own Vee Friends NFTs, what a year!
Decentraland Celebrates its First Birthday
Decentraland turned one year old in February 2021, and of course celebrated in style at The White Rabbit Club in Festival Land. Grammy award-winning artist RAC was there to spin the best of the best all night long. We can’t wait for the second birthday bash coming up soon!
3LAU Releases the First-Ever Tokenized Music Album
A milestone for the NFT music industry as 3LAU releases the first tokenized music album ever. An auction was held featuring a collection of limited-edition NFTs called the ‘Ultraviolet NFT Collection.’ The collection of NFTs represented his best-selling album Ultraviolet.
NBA Cool Cats Go Wild
The beginning of the height of NBA Top Shot madness which lasted a good few months, and Dapper Labs made millions and millions of dollars. For those who were there, you will remember the insanely exciting drops every week and the glory of scoring a special Cool Cats Moment. This was a definitely a whole world of its own within NFT land.
Beeple Sells NFT for $69 Million
The most iconic NFT moment of the year (and probably forever) took place in March when Beeple sold his NFT artwork for $69 million to Metakovan. This will was certainly the defining moment for the future of CryptoArt, and made a statement to the world that NFTs are a force to be reckoned with.
Aavegotchi Officially Launches
Our beloved ghost frens went live in the month of March! The highly-anticipated launch was a huge success, with the total sales volume of the wearables, consumable NFTs, and Portals exceeding $5.5 million USD worth of GHST. Since then, the game has come a long, long way with an ever-growing number of players.
The Sandbox Launches Beta NFT Marketplace
Way back when The Sandbox launched its beta marketplace at the end of March 2021, as a step closer towards the creation of a metaverse. It was the first time creators could publish and share their NFT creations with anyone in the world and to earn $SAND by selling them through The Sandbox.
Pak Becomes First NFT Artist on Sotheby’s
Shortly after Beeple’s big moment at Christie’s, Sotheby’s followed suit and held an auction featuring CryptoArtist superstar Pak. This was another important moment for the NFT art community, as a second major auction house joined the scene. Pak’s “Fungible Collection” drop was in collaboration with Nifty Gateway, and made its mark on both the fine art and digital art world.
CryptoPunks on Auction at Christie’s
Who would’ve thought that the most popular OG NFT collectibles would be auctioned off by Christie’s so soon? The announcement of a CryptoPunks auction made waves across the NFT space and major news outlets, and it was certainly one of the most memorable moments for the community. There were a total of 9 Punks up for sale at the Christie’s ’21st Century Evening Sale’ which took place in New York.
Eminem Joins the NFT Party
Eminem announced an NFT drop on Nifty Gateway in April, and this was really around the time when celebrity NFT cash grabs were at their peak. Every day a new celebrity was dropping an NFT collection. But Eminem was an iconic drop, as he is one of the most popular musicians, and his collection included original instrumental beats produced specifically for the drop, along with limited-edition collectibles.
Bored Ape Yacht Club Launches
Alright, let’s take a moment to let this really sink in: It’s the beginning of May, many cool things are happening, and BAYC drops into NFT land for 0.08 ETH per Ape. Yes, 0.08 ETH folks! Nobody suspects anything, just another fun pfp drop, except that they make around $7.3 million in their first week. But that’s not entirely shocking considering everyone was raking in impressive sums. Oh dear, little did anybody know the bright future of their Apes. Check out our report on the BAYC drop here from way back then.
Binance Announces NFT Marketplace
One of the first leading crypto exchanges to get onboard the NFT train and launch a marketplace was Binance. They announced the official launch would take place in early June, and that the platform would also support NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.
The Term ‘NFT’ Gets Added to the Dictionary
It’s official, NFTs are real, the dictionary says so! Dictionary aficionados Merriam-Webster, officially defined the term “non-fungible token”, and in ironic celebration also decided to mint it as an NFT. They defined NFT (non-fungible token) as: A unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership (as of a specific digital asset and specific rights relating to it).
So if anyone asks what an NFT is, tell them to look it up in the dictionary!
Sotheby’s Opens an NFT Gallery in Decentraland
A traditional art house opens up a gallery in the metaverse – now that’s a bold move! The Sotheby’s virtual gallery is an exact replica of its iconic New Bond Street Galleries in London. Visitors can stroll through the gallery and enjoy the various artworks that are up either for auction or as part of one of Sotheby’s regular NFT exhibitions.
Original Doge Memes Go Up for Sale
So, we saw many memes selling like hot bread, but when the original Doge memes go up for auction as NFTs, you know things are getting real serious. The series of hilariously adorable images, “Curious Doge,” “Cuddly Doge,” “Shocked Doge,” and many more, were sold in a number of drops.
FEWOCiOUS Announces Collab with Christie’s
NFT art sensation and one of the leading faces of the CryptoArt scene, FEWOCiOUS, made a massive announcement to the community that they would be selling their latest collection at Christie’s auction house, featuring five beautifully crafted artworks with a deeply personal background. FEWOCiOUS found immense success with his art in the NFT space, and has played a pivotal role in the progress of the space, so having them sell their artwork through Christie’s was another really important moment for NFT art.
OpenSea Completes $100M Series B Fundraising
OpenSea, the king of NFT marketplaces, raised $100 million in funding to further develop the platform. That is no small amount, and the round included some pretty big names, as well as Ashton Kutcher! Along with its fundraising victory, OpenSea also announced the introduction of cross-blockchain support.
South China Morning Post Announces Partnership with The Sandbox
One of the most popular Asian news publications, South China Morning Post, joined hands with The Sandbox. This partnership was a real highlight for the metaverse and NFTs, as one of the first traditional media outlets to join the space. It was also one of the first of many major partnerships for The Sandbox.
A Single Axie Sells for 369 ETH
It’s July and Axie Infinity is gaining insane amounts of players and attention worldwide. At this stage, it is clear that Axie is the star of the blockchain gaming show with over 500,000 unique users, and just when we think it couldn’t get any better for the game, a single mystic Axie sells for an astronomical 369 ETH!
Visa Invests in CryptoPunks
World-renowned payment giant, Visa, have taken a bold step into the world of NFTs, hold it right there, say what! Yes, that’s right, even Visa joined the NFT party, they couldn’t resist purchasing CryptoPunk #7610 for a cool 49.5 ETH.
Vogue Releases First-Ever NFT Cover for September Issue
The ultimate luxury and fashion lifestyle magazine, Vogue Singapore, made a statement to the world: NFT art is here to stay and it matters. They were the first world-renowned fashion magazine to release an NFT cover, and not just for any issue, but its September issue, which is the biggest ad most important one of the year. There were two different NFT covers released, both done by two different popular CryptoArtists, Chad Knight and Shavonne Wong.
Alibaba Launches its Own NFT Marketplace
Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, hops on the NFT bandwagon with its own clunky NFT marketplace and weird name: Blockchain Digital Copyright and Asset-Trade. The platform was aimed at artists, musicians, writers, and game developers. If Alibaba joins the party, you know we’re talking business. Way to go NFTs!
Loot NFTs Go Viral
Who remembers how crazy Loot NFTs went, the floor price literally rose from the ground to the heavens from one second to the next. Loot is an open-source side project by Dom Hofmann, co-founder of the social media app Vine, and had a total market cap of over $180 million in just one week. A perfect example of how the NFT world is full of surprises.
MetaMask Celebrates 10 Million Users
Our favorite crypto wallet hit a massive 10 million users landmark in September this year. It just goes to show how quickly everything is evolving. The team celebrated this epic moment in style with an unforgettable 24-hour bash in Decentraland.
Sotheby’s Launches Bored Apes Auction
Sotheby’s makes one of its biggest moves of the year and announces an enormous Bored Apes auction featuring 101 BAYC collectibles and 101 Bored Ape Kennel Club NFTs. A winning moment for BAYC and another major leap forward into cementing its place as the leader of NFT collectibles.
Coinbase Unveils Plans to Infiltrate the NFT Market
Another crypto heavyweight, if not the most popular one of them all, announces its plans to build an in-house NFT marketplace. Many start wondering if this could potentially be the ultimate competitor of the mighty OpenSea? The NFT marketplace competition is getting real stiff now, with Binance, Crypto.com and Coinbase all jumping in the game. According to DappRadar, the NFT market had skyrocketed to an incredible $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021. It’s no wonder everyone wants a slice of the pie.
Japanese Gaming Giant Square Enix Joins the NFT Scene
Blockchain gaming has without a doubt seen immense success this past year, and it’s never been more apparent that the future is bright for NFTs and gaming than when Japan’s biggest gaming company, Square Enix, announced it is testing the waters of this new technology. As an initial first step, Square Enix launched an NFT series on the LINE blockchain by celebrated manga artist Choboraunyopomi.
Crypto Exchange FTX US Announces New NFT Marketplace
October turns out to be another big month for NFTs, not only does Coinbase join in on the fun but crypto exchange FTX US also drops in on the party a few weeks later. The company launches its own NFT marketplaces dubbed “FTX NFTs,” and tries to stay on top by allowing users to list NFTs for sale in USD, SOL or ETH. At this stage, many of the major crypto players are now fully immersed in the NFT world and beelining for the top spot.
The Sandbox Alpha Finally Arrives
We never thought the Alpha day of The Sandbox would actually happen in 2021. Now, that was a cause worth celebrating. Following years of development, dozens of amazing partnerships, and a huge build-up, the team finally launched the Alpha version. Of course, the event was rather exclusive and you needed a pretty pricey Alpha Pass ticket to cruise around the metaverse, but what’s important is that it happened, which means we are one step closer to the official grand opening of The Sandbox.
Tokens.com Acquires $3 Million Decentraland Real Estate
Another record-breaking sale for the metaverse as crypto investment firm, Tokens, purchases a piece of real estate in Decentraland’s fashion district. This happened shortly after a huge surge of interest in the metaverse due to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook is changing its name to “Meta.” Since then, it’s all about the metaverse, and the big players are not sleeping on this one that’s for sure. Tokens aims to become a pioneer in developing the Web3 fashion frontier, and will be working closely with Decentraland.
Christie’s Partners with OpenSea for First Curated On-Chain Auction
Although November was really the month of the metaverse, the NFT art scene was still going strong. Christie’s and OpenSea teamed up for the first-ever impressive on-chain NFT auction featuring some of the biggest names in CryptoArt, including Mad Dog Jones and Fvckrender. This marked a new era for the auction house, as it moved closer to using the full potential of decentralization and onboarding traditional contemporary art collectors to Web3.
NIKE Acquires Leading NFT Fashion Studio RTFKT
Alright, so this was a major shock and surprise to literally everyone in the NFT community. Almost every single person tweeted about NIKE acquiring RTFKT, and the community was strongly opinionated and divided on the news. Some believed it was an anti-Web3 move and others thought it would be great publicity and support for the NFT space, but whatever people thought, this has be one of the most impressive events of December as RTFKT became the first NFT company to be acquired by such a major brand.
Cryptovoxels Begins Native Token Development
Cryptovoxels were a little bit on the quiet side this year, slowly building and quietly working towards making the metaverse a better place. But in December they finally came out with some exciting news for the community – the development of a native token. The team announced a tentative release date for April 2022, and also a tokenomics experiment called Scarcity Island. Scarcity Island will include a wealth of data with which to design the final Cryptovoxels token, and each land parcel within the experiment includes discoverable secret tokens, which then form the backbone of the voting system. Find out more here.
Adidas Apes in with a Host of Amazing NFT Collaborations
NFTs go more and more mainstream as Adidas takes the NFT world by storm, releasing one NFT collab after the next! It all started with an informal release of a humble POAP, then just a few days later, some tweets bounced between Adidas and The Sandbox, revealing that the sports shoe fanatics had purchased a significant plot of land in the metaverse. Afterwards, they subtly revealed a partnership with crypto giants Coinbase, while throwing in the now iconic words “probably nothing” for good measure. But it didn’t stop there, they also teamed up with Bored Apes and G-Money for one of the most successful NFT drops of December called “Into the Metaverse.”
So that’s a wrap for NFTs in 2021, it has been such an incredible year for the space. We have seen such growth, innovation, and lots of scams, but overall a positive spirit and many new opportunities coming our way. Thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey in this iconic year, which we will all remember and look back on in the years to come. May 2022 be just as wild – with NFTs by our side!
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*All investment/financial opinions expressed by NFT Plazas are from the personal research and experience of our site moderators and are intended as educational material only. Individuals are required to fully research any product prior to making any kind of investment.
Ivelina is an NFT and Blockchain lover. She has a knack for putting complex concepts into simple words.