Rare Pepe NFTs aren’t the most popular digital art collectibles, but they have an interesting history. Read on to learn what Rare Pepe NFTs are, why they are relevant in Bitcoin culture, and whether or not you should consider collecting them.
What is Rare Pepe?
Rare Pepe is a subset of “Pepe the Frog,” a character that first appeared in 2005 in Mark Furie’s comic, “Boy’s Club.”
Pepe the Frog is a green anthropomorphic cartoon with a human body. The cartoon character turned into an internet meme in 2008 thanks to its popularization on the social networks Gaia Online, MySpace, and 4chan.
In 2015, Pepe the Frog memes started being used with hateful intentions by the alt-right movement and white supremacists as Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency.
The following year, Furie partnered with the Anti-Defamation League in a social media campaign using #SavePepe to reclaim the symbol from those that were using it to spread prejudice.
In 2014, a variation of Pepe the Frog memes called rare Pepes emerged on a 4chan board. They were being shared like trading cards, and some had watermarks that said: “RARE PEPE DO NOT SAVE.” This meant that the artist had not published the image for public use. The following year in April, a collection of 1,200 rare Pepes were listed on eBay. They reached a high price of $99,166 before they were taken down. More rare Pepe memes were listed on eBay and Craigslist.
Rare Pepe Cards on Counterparty: The Original NFTs (Before They Were Called NFTs)
Thanks to their popularity, it’s perhaps not surprising that Pepe the Frog and rare Pepes made their way into the crypto space. They appeared on Counterparty – an open-source protocol built on top of Bitcoin – as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in 2016. This was before the existence of Ethereum NFTs. At the time, the term NFT wasn’t even in use yet.
The launch of the Rare Pepe NFTs was influenced by the famous 2015 Spells of Genesis SATOSHICARD. The first rare Pepe NFTs were mined on Bitcoin’s block 428,919.
The rare Pepe images on Counterparty looked like trading cards and were minted in limited amounts. Through the Rare Pepe Wallet, users could buy, sell, and store their Rare Pepe NFT cards. Users traded these NFTs using a liquid cash card called, PepeCash.
Furthermore, collectors could submit their own rare Pepe images to the rare Pepe directory. This was a catalog of all known rare Pepes. The guidelines for submission were strict. They read:
“Submissions must be ORIGINAL. Our rareness quality team examines each Pepe for rareness. (no stealing!) Our experts understand that lots of Pepe’s borrow from each other to an extent, but try to add as much original content as possible. Also, make sure your Pepe is dank. Check latest submissions on the directory to compare.”
The cost of submission was about $13 worth of PepeCash at the time. The Rare Pepe Foundation removed any offensive rare Pepes that were submitted before they were visible in the directory.
As the NFT community grew, Furie started his own NFT project called Pegz. The PegzDAO sells NFTs according to its signature style. In October 2021, Pegz, in collaboration with NFT marketplace Chain/saw, auctioned a rare Pepe NFT card called FEELSGOODMAN. It was one of 500 tokens originally minted in 2016 by Rare Pepe Wallet creator Joe Looney. FEELSGOODMAN aimed to bring peace between the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities. Out of the 500 tokens, 400 were burned, and one was auctioned. The proceeds of the auction and the remaining 99 NFTs went to the PegzDAO.
How Much Have Rare Pepe NFTs Sold For?
In a January 2018 live auction held in New York City (NYC), a Homer Simpson rare Pepe collectible — at the time, they were simply known as collectibles or crypto-collectibles — sold for $39,000. This was the first digital art auction in history. Many people online criticized the buyer, Peter Kell, for making such an expensive purchase on something that to them appeared worthless. However, three years later, Kell sold the Homer Pepe for $312,000.
Besides Kell’s NFT, the 2021 NFT craze saw other rare Pepe NFTs sell for astoundingly large amounts of money. Some collectors used a software protocol called Emblem Vault to reconfigure rare Pepe digital cards so they could also run on the Ethereum blockchain. They then listed the “wrapped” rare Pepes on the NFT marketplace OpenSea, where some sold for a lot of money.
For instance, one rare Pepe created around Bitcoin’s founder Satoshi Nakamoto went for $149.99 ETH, which was about $500,000 at the time. Another copy of the same rare Pepe NFT sold for slightly less at 111.1 ETH.
Not all rare Pepe NFT trades have ended well, however. The buyer of Furie’s FEELSGOODMAN NFT sued Furie for over $500,000 in March 2022 on the basis that the NFT wasn’t rare enough. The buyer, who won the auction mentioned earlier in this article, paid 150 ETH for the NFT, which was over $500,000 at the time. According to the lawsuit filing,
“Thayer believed that he would be the owner of the only FEELSGOODMAN card NFT in circulation, with the other 99 being locked into the DAO.”
However, the remaining NFTs were being distributed to PegzDAO members for free, reducing the value of Thayer’s NFT.
Are Rare Pepe NFTs Worth Collecting?
Rare Pepe NFTs aren’t as popular as Bored Apes or Crypto Punks. For this reason, these NFTs generally do not sell as much and as high as these two high-ranking NFT collections.
Looking at the current OpenSea listings, rare Pepe NFTs (on Ethereum) are bidding or have been sold for less than 1 ETH. So, if you’re looking to collect these NFTs with the goal of cashing out big, your chances may be low unless you have an extremely rare 1/1 card. Nevertheless, if your goal isn’t financial gain and you simply love rare Pepe NFTs, you could still collect them for their value as art.
In addition to Ethereum-based Rare Pepe NFTs, you can also purchase items from the original collection that still resides on the Counterparty protocol on a handful of Rare Pepe marketplaces.