What do Eminem, Serena Williams, Stephen Curry, Shaquille O’Neal and Justin Bieber all have in common? Each celebrity owns at least one of 10,000 Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) non-fungible tokens (NFTs), one of the most popular digital collections in the world.

NFTs exist on the blockchain. They are publicly traceable and present the first solution for proving digital ownership rights of digital assets. Due to their programmability, they are gaining adoption in the content creator space, music, real estate and other industries.

Below, we’ll take a deep dive into the BAYC NFT collection, its utility, and what makes individual collectors and companies dish out millions of dollars for these digital images. This Forkast explainer will explore:

What is the Bored Ape Yacht Club?

The Bored Ape Yacht Club, or BAYC, is the largest NFT avatar by market capitalization.

The BAYC collection consists of 10,000 unique NFTs, algorithmically generated from over 172 possible traits which determine each ape’s rarity. Some of the most sought-out features include laser eyes on 69 apes, blue beams on 49 apes, solid gold fur on 46 apes, and “Bored Unshaven Pizza” mouth, of which only 26 specimens exist. The more rare traits an ape image possesses, the more valuable the NFT. The collective value of trading in BAYC on the OpenSea marketplace amounted to over 466,000 ETH (US$1.4 billion), according to data collected as of March 2022.

Aside from their widespread use as social media profile pictures, what makes the BAYC collection special is their utility. The NFTs represent membership to the Bored Ape Yacht Club — a digital club with members-only access and benefits. For example, membership provides access to THE BATHROOM, a collaborative graffiti board that’s only accessible to MetaMask wallets holding Bored Apes. Members will also gain additional benefits as the BAYC roadmap progresses.

The Bored Ape project was developed by the four pseudonymous co-founders of Yuga LabsGargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup and No Sass. The collection lives on the Ethereum blockchain as ERC-721 tokens and is hosted on IPFS.

What makes BAYC NFTs so valuable?

The BAYC collection offers exclusive access to the Yacht Club, a members-only merchandise store, and an exclusive Discord server. BAYC holders have access to additional NFTs, such as a free Bored Ape Kennel Club. Yuga Labs provided BAYC golfers with a free mutant serum, which generated a Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) NFT for Bored Ape owners. More recently, MAYC and BAYC owners were airdropped the ApeCoin cryptocurrency. In a sense, holding a BAYC is like an ongoing subscription to new NFTs and assets.

Another element is its community appeal. BAYC holders have actively been showcasing their NFTs as profile pictures on social media.

Yehudah Petscher, a strategist at NFT data aggregator CryptoSlam, told Forkast that the BAYC collection can be considered unique for the popularity it has attracted. “This is what makes BAYC so strong,” Petscher said. “They capture a moment in time where NFTs were starting to become relevant in a mainstream way, and owning one is owning a piece of that moment.”

The third reason these NFTs are so valuable is that they’re seen as status symbols owing to their high cost of ownership. As the global Covid-19 pandemic drove accelerated digital adoption, NFTs became assets to showcase socioeconomic status.

As for the collection’s appeal to some of the world’s wealthiest artistic performers and athletes, Petscher believes it may help extend their celebrity brands. “Some careers require a person to be relevant, so what better way to do that than owning the most well-known NFT in the world,” he said. “BAYC is cool, and everyone wants the cool thing.”

How to buy a Bored Ape NFT?

Bored Ape NFTs were made available to the public for 0.08 ETH during an initial sale in April 2021, which saw the entire collection snapped up within 12 hours. The images are currently changing hands on NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. Users can simply browse through the BAYC collection, which boasts a high floor price.

Bored Ape buyers will need an Ethereum wallet, like MetaMask. Potential buyers can choose to either purchase at auctions or through listings that set a fixed price on NFT marketplaces.

Where is the Bored Ape Yacht Club heading in the future?

Many believe that BAYC is gradually transcending the blockchain. In December BAYC announced it was co-developing a play-to-earn game with Animoca Brands. Another focus is the “Mysterious Note” which begins a treasure hunt for 5 ETH and a Bored Ape NFT.

In January the members-exclusive BAYC x MAYC mobile game was released, beginning a 10-day competition wherein the top 1,000 players will be rewarded with BAYC merchandise. The competition created a lot of buzz around BAYC and Ape Fest 2022, a four-day event kicking off June 20 in Manhattan, exclusively for BAYC holders. The event was recently rescheduled to coincide with NFT.NYC, an NFT event that is expected to draw more than 5,500 attendees.

The recent launch of the ApeCoin governance token has followed announcements such as the Otherside metaverse and gaming project.

“The project itself will then be turned over to the community, and it will be the responsibility of the holders to shape the future of the BAYC. Perhaps this is where the celebrity holders will really pay off for the brand,” Petscher said.

Big companies are also starting to adopt Bored Ape NFTs. In September Adidas purchased BAYC #8774 for 46 ETH, or US$156,000. The image is now displayed as the company’s Twitter profile. In December Adidas announced its metaverse ambitions in partnership with NFT collections BAYC, Punks Comic, and NFT collector Gmoney. The company also released its first NFT collection known as Adidas Originals into the Metaverse.

In January, Twitter introduced NFT profile picture verification, providing another shot in the arm for the BAYC collection. Analysts expect BAYC will likely see continued interest from crypto investors and celebrities alike as NFTs gain widespread acceptance and adoption.