United States law enforcement officials announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) seized “approximately 50,676.17” bitcoin from a Silk Road thief. The latest seizure adds to the cache of bitcoins the U.S. government holds today as three forfeitures during the last two years have led to a stash of around 214,682 bitcoin worth $4.22 billion using today’s bitcoin exchange rates.
After 3 Major Forfeitures, U.S. Law Enforcement Officials Hold More Than 1% of Bitcoin’s Capped Supply
The U.S. government has a large stash of bitcoin after three major confiscations during the last two years. The first major seizure revealed was back in November 2020, when the DOJ detailed it confiscated 69,370.22 BTC which was worth over $1 billion at the time. Today, the stash seized from a person dubbed “Individual X” is worth $1.36 billion.
Then on Feb. 1, 2022, onchain analysts noticed 94,636 BTC consolidate into a single address. The coins derived from the 2016 Bitfinex hack and less than a week later, U.S. law enforcement officials explained that the funds were seized and two individuals (Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan) were arrested. The more than 94K BTC seized from Morgan and Lichtenstein is worth $1.86 billion today.
The most recent seizure from the Silk Road thief is the third major stash the U.S. government has confiscated since the Individual X forfeiture. The recently seized Silk Road bitcoins are worth $997 million using today’s BTC exchange rates. All three caches add up to a total of 214,682 BTC, which equates to 1.02% of the 21 million capped bitcoin supply. The U.S. government holds more bitcoin than Microstrategy’s 130,000 BTC stash and Block.one’s cache of 140,000 BTC.
The only publicly known holder of bitcoin (BTC) with more tokens than the Feds is Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which holds 643,572 BTC today. It’s currently unclear when the U.S. government will decide to auction the large cache of BTC it holds, as it hasn’t held any major BTC auctions in quite some time. The U.S. government, leveraging the General Services Administration (GSA), did auction $377K worth of BTC and LTC in June 2021. Furthermore, there were a number of small government-sponsored BTC auctions prior to 2021 as well.
Interestingly, the U.S. government has had plenty of chances to sell at least some of the cache of bitcoins for much more than they are worth today ($4.22B). For instance, the first major stash discovered in November 2020 could have easily been sold for $50K to $60K per BTC, and the seized Bitfinex coins could have also been sold for $30K to $40K per BTC. Historically, the U.S. government has sold seized BTC at a loss, compared to the values that could have been obtained if they were sold at a better exchange rate.
It’s not the first time the U.S. government has been the largest bitcoin holder, as it once was the biggest back when it held Silk Road bitcoins confiscated during the seizure in 2013. The forfeited bitcoins were later sold at auction in 2014 and some of the bitcoins were purchased by investors like Tim Draper.
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