The rare Serum #69 for Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club just sold for 1,542.069 ETH ($5.8 million), making it the largest sale of a Bored Ape "serum" thus far.
Deepak Thapliyal, CEO of the blockchain tech startup Chain, bought this rare non-fungible token or NFT — though not without competition from the Andreessen Horowitz-backed Meta4 Capital, which had offered to buy Serum #69 for 1,500 ETH ($5.76 million).
While perhaps serving as an illumination of the current state of collectibles sales in the NFT space, the development also begs the inevitable question: what is a serum, and why would it sell for so much?
To help answer this question, here's a primer on Mutant Ape Yacht Club serums and how they fit in with the Bored Ape Yacht Club ecosystem.
From Bored to Mutant Apes
The NFT development startup Yuga Labs first created the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC, or Bored Apes) in April 2021. BAYC is a collection of 10,000 generativity made images of cartoon apes minted on the Ethereum blockchain.
BAYC quickly sold out after the initial mint and saw ever-rising secondary sales on NFT marketplaces like OpenSea. BAYC NFTs easily fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at purchase, and the most expensive Bored Ape previously sold for $2.7 million.
Yuga Labs didn’t intend for Bored Ape to be their only collection, however. Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC, or Mutant Apes) has always been a part of the Bored Ape road map and was set to launch after 100% of BAYC NFTs sold.
Thus, Yuga Labs set out to create 20,000 Mutant Apes. Ten thousand of them would reward Bored Ape owners with new creatures based on the traits of their original Bored Ape, while the other 10,000 would be designed to welcome newcomers into the Bored Ape ecosystem with a lower cost of entry.
For the latter, 10,000 Mutant Apes would be sold via a "Dutch Auction" on August 28. A Dutch auction is a method in which an item is auctioned at a higher asking price and gradually lowered. Yuga Labs set the original Mutant Ape price at 3 ETH and reduced it until they were all sold.
The former 10,000 Mutant Apes? They’d need a little something called serums.
Now you serum, now you don’t
Bored Ape serums are an NFT that mutates the collection's languid primates. To mutate a Bored Ape with a serum, an individual must have both a Bored Ape NFT and a serum NFT in their wallet before using the mutating feature on the MAYC website.
Yuga Labs airdropped, or sent out, 10,000 serums to BAYC owners on August 28, 2021 — the same day as the Dutch auction. Serums burn upon use and can thus only be used once. A Bored Ape that has been mutated cannot use another serum of the same tier.
However, not all serums are alike. Of the 10,000 serums, Yuga Labs originally airdropped 7,500 M1 serums, 2,492 M2 serums, and eight Mega Mutant, or M3, serums.
As Yuga Labs demonstrated with a Bored Ape named Curtis, M1 and M2 serums do not really make a significant difference — other than the scarcity, and thus price, of the serum.
The M3 serum, though, offers more exaggerated features of the original Bored Ape.
It must be noted that not all M3 Mutant Apes are derived from serums. Five more were added in the Dutch auction, bringing the total number of possible M3 Mutant Apes to 13, according to the Bored Ape Discord. But those existing eight serums are incredibly rare — and become even more so as users burn serums by mutating Bored Apes.
Rarity was one of the biggest reasons why Thapliyal decided to spend nearly $6 million on M3 serum #69, as he explained on Twitter. He spent a total of $7.2 million for both the serum and his Bored Ape. Thapliyal's argument: he sees the potential to quadruple his earnings — if he decides to sell at all.
With Mutant Ape Yacht Club and serums, Yuga Labs found a way to add a scarcity model that goes beyond the Bored Ape initial mint.
Bored Apes do indeed have rare features, such as an Ape wearing a prom dress or donning a party hat, but they are permanently etched into the NFT’s JPEG. By comparison, these serums are ephemeral and thus become rarer the more they’re consumed.
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