The Bitcoin Investment Trust has successfully bid for 48,000 bitcoins that were auctioned last week.
The coins were originally part of a huge stash of bitcoins owned by Silk Road, the defunct dark web marketplace. They had been placed up for auction after it was shut down and its assets were seized. Silk Road’s founder, Ross Ulbricht, was also arrested.
The US Marshals Service put 50,000 of Silk Road’s bitcoins up for auction last week, split into 20 blocks. In total, they were worth about $18 million. The Bitcoin Trust clearly has the lion’s share of the blocks on offer: 19 out of 20. It used a syndicate model to bid and buy, with 104 participants in total.
However, there were fewer participants this time around compared to the first ever bitcoin auction: 11 buyers vs 45 originally. This could be because the earning potential is lower, or because bitcoin’s value has decreased since June. The lower participation could also simply show that the novelty of the government auction has worn off, or that bidders are shifting to a syndicate strategy to give themselves more power. The auction was also much shorter this time around, with 6 hours of bidding time instead of 12, and this may explain why there were fewer bids.
Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, reportedly purchased the remaining 2,000 bitcoins from the Silk Road auction . Draper purchased the entire stash of almost $30,000 bitcoin in the first auction, so he was expected to be involved in this one. The investor has said that some of the coins will be distributed to bitcoin startup companies as part of a project called Boost.
The Bitcoin Trust is an investment fund that deals solely in cryptocurrencies. Its syndicate, formally known as SecondMarket, completed the transaction last Monday. There will be more than 100 beneficiaries in the syndicate, so it’s impossible to say where those coins are going to be spent.
Ulbricht’s assets are still the subject of court orders, so there may be more auctions to come once the confiscated bitcoin become available. Interest is likely to fluctuate again, depending on bitcoin’s value when the next round is announced.