A New York programmer has detailed how he and some friends managed to decode a secret message in an NFT, which turned out to be a cryptic clue: SECRET IS IN THE PIG NUMBERS.

But solving that riddle of those pig numbers enabled them to claim a Meebits pig avatar — an NFT worth at least 4.5 Ethereum (US$11,6410).

Andrew Badr and his buddies cracked the code in a Protoglyph NFT created algorithmically by Larva Labs, the creator of both CryptoPunks and the Meebits collection.

Protoglyph #11 by Larva Labs.

The NFT was part of the Grails drop by Collective Proof held last month – 20 artworks by 20 anonymous artworks. To mint one, you needed to be a member of the Proof collective, meaning you had to own one of the 1,000 PROOF NFTs. Prices start at 33 Ether (US$84,000).

“Soon after minting closed, the Proof team held the much-anticipated call where the story and artist behind each piece were revealed. When #11 turned out to be by @larvalabs, and in fact a prototype of their seminal Autoglyphs project, everyone went wild,” Badr tweeted.

Badr recounted how an eagle-eyed member in the Proof chatroom caught a detail on the edge of the artwork.

It turned out that the regular and upside-down Ls spelled out binary code that Badr and his buddies were able to decode to “SECRET IS IN THE PIG NUMBERS -LL”

They figured the “pig numbers” had to refer to Larva Labs’ well-known pig Meebits… and eventually deduced that the numbers were the pigs’ Snoutz Jerseys.

They were able eventually to decode the jersey numbers into an Ethereum private key, which they used to claim a wallet containing Meebit #2858.

The Meebits have a floor price of 4.5 Ether, but someone had already offered 10.01 Ether for Meebit #2858 yesterday.

The jersey numbers had been public and available for decoding since the Meebits were created last May, Badr tweeted.

Badr added that it was a “really fun experience” to solve the puzzle.