At a New Year's Eve house party a few years ago, I met someone who had graduated from Harvard Business School. Among other topics, I brought up something I couldn't figure out: why would someone pay $200,000 for something you could just get from a $13.99 book? Sure, it's not the same, but most of the $200k you're paying for membership in a club.
Instead of arguing he made an excellent point: you're paying $200k to join a club whose members have also chosen to pay $200k to join that club. As long as a membership badge is famous, scarce, and legible enough, carrying the badge instantly creates a baseline level of trust and respect in everyone – not just other badge holders.
And that's why Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs go for the price of a house.