Upon its inception in 2009, Bitcoin was worth less than 10 cents per bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has risen steadily since then and is now worth around $6000 per Bitcoin. This is the most remarkable appreciation of the value and has created many millionaires over the last eight years.
Bitcoin has had a bullish run in 2017, rising from $966 at the start of the year to a record high of more than $6,000 this month, and some major holders of the currency are no doubt looking to cash in on its value. The names might surprise you. While Bitcoins allows for anonymity, using strings of letters and numbers to identify sources of transactions, certain people have publicly revealed that they’re enthusiastic users. Here are the people with the biggest known stakes in Bitcoin.
1. Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin mastermind)
Nakamoto is the shadowy figure sitting at the heart of Bitcoin, which itself still confounds so many. After inventing Bitcoin with a 2008 white paper describing a software tied to digital currency, Nakamoto retreated from public life.
A Bitcoin developer estimated in 2013 that Nakamoto had around 1 million Bitcoins. At a valuation of about $6,133 as of this writing, that would be theoretically worth an astounding $6.1 billion. A huge caveat here, though: If Nakamoto were to start selling off their entire supply of Bitcoin, it would rapidly drive down demand for the currency and therefore the value of the holding.
Bulgaria is currently sitting on one of the biggest stashes of Bitcoin in the world. How did the European nation come into the possession of this enormous sum of money? A crackdown on organized crime by the Bulgarian law enforcement in May 2017 resulted in the seizure of a stash of 213,519 Bitcoins, enough to pay off a quarter of the country’s national debt.
According to Bulgarian authorities, the criminals used their technical prowess to circumvent taxes. As of June 2018, the virtual coins would be worth more than $1.2 billion. The Bulgarian government has declined to comment on the status of the coins.
BitFinex, one of the biggest crypto exchanges, possess one of the largest bitcoin wallets with 163,133.38 BTC that are worth approximately $1 billion at the current price of $6,098.24 per bitcoin. The coins are believed to be kept in a cold wallet to protect them from cyber hacks, unauthorized access and other vulnerabilities that a system connected to the internet is prone to.
4. The FBI
The FBI is one of the largest renowned holders of Bitcoin. In September 2013, they brought down Silk Road, the infamous dark web drug bazaar, and confiscated 144,000 Bitcoin owned by the site’s operator Ross Ulbricht, better known as, “Dread Pirate Roberts”.
5. The Winklevoss Twins
You likely know Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who tried and failed to gain control of Facebook after alleging that it had been appropriated from them, thanks to Armie Hammer’s satirical portrayal of both siblings in The Social Network.
But the Winklevii have a second act in their enormous Bitcoin investment. While they were shut out of creating a Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF), their 2013 investment in $11 million worth of Bitcoin (which reportedly amounted to one percent of all the currency in circulation) looks pretty rosy now. That same amount is worth approximately 21 times as much now, putting their total at about $231 million.
6. Garvin Andresen
Many people credit Garvin Anderson for making the bitcoin, something very contrary to the Satoshi Nakamoto belief. Garvin Andresen is credited as the person who made it what it is today. Garvin is one of the people who has been suspected to be Satoshi, a claim he denies.
He was once paid over $200,000 in Bitcoin by the Bitcoin Foundation for his contributions. He had already cashed out multiple times.
7. Roger Ver
Roger Ver, who is known by the famous name of Bitcoin Jesus, is one of the first Bitcoin billionaires and believed to hold or held at least 100,000 bitcoins. The renowned libertarian allegedly dropped out of college to focus on his bitcoin-related projects.
The controversial bitcoin evangelist renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2014 and relocated permanently to a small Caribbean Island.
8. Barry Silbert (cryptocurrency maven)
Silbert, a venture capitalist and founder of Digital Currency Group, was an early proponent of Bitcoin. He reportedly nabbed 48,000 Bitcoins in an auction held by the U.S. Marshals Service in 2014 (the government had seized much of the currency from Silk Road, an online marketplace it said was used for illegal drugs). Bitcoin was then worth $350, which means Silbert’s haul has climbed about 16 times, from approximately 16.8 million to $268.8 million
9. Charlie Shrem (Bitcoin early adopter)
Shrem is more infamous than famous. The entrepreneur got in on the early days of Bitcoin and was a member of the Bitcoin Foundation, which was supposed to protect the use of Bitcoin but has seen several of its leaders under criminal investigation.
Shrem himself received a two-year prison sentence for charges related to money laundering. But he’s now back with a crypto-investment startup, and while he hasn’t disclosed exactly how much he owns in Bitcoins, he reportedly bought a few thousand back when they worth were little, and those would be worth several millions now.
10. Tony Gallippi
Gallippi is the cofounder and chairman of Bitpay, currently the leading Bitcoin processor, and is said to be among the largest holders of the currency. While he hasn’t disclosed the exact value of his Bitcoin investments, estimates have put it around $20 million.
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