US Government’s Bitcoin Holdings Estimated at Over $5 Billion, Potentially Much Higher
The valuation of $5 billion, which has been attributed to the US government’s Bitcoin holdings, is primarily based on the outcomes of three significant confiscations related to the Bitfinex hack and the Silk Road. However, it’s worth noting that the actual holdings might be considerably larger. The US government has, in recent times, become one of the foremost holders of Bitcoin, possessing over 200,000 BTC, valued at more than $5 billion, even after selling a substantial number of BTC worth millions earlier this year.
Based on an analysis of publicly available information, cryptocurrency firm 21.co has estimated that the US government presently retains approximately 194,188 BTC, equivalent to a value of $5.3 billion. This analysis explicitly notes that these estimates represent the lower boundaries of the US government’s holdings, given the constraints of available data.
This analysis traces the movement of Bitcoin in wallets affiliated with the US government, specifically those linked to the three largest BTC confiscations since 2020. These seizures encompass the Silk Road confiscation, which involved 69,369 BTC in November 2020, the Bitfinex Hack confiscation of 94,643 BTC in January 2022, and the James Zhong seizure of 51,326 BTC in March 2022.
The US government’s Bitcoin holdings are predominantly secured in offline storage, housed within encrypted hardware wallets situated under the jurisdictions of the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service. It’s notable that the government made two notable seizures in 2022.
However, it’s important to clarify that confiscated assets do not immediately become government property. The US Marshals Service, the primary agency responsible for selling seized assets, only gains custody of the seized Bitcoin following a court’s definitive forfeiture ruling.
Moreover, the US government has periodically sold portions of seized Bitcoin through a court-ordered auction system. A prominent example dates back to 2014, when billionaire Tim Draper acquired 30,000 BTC through a US government auction.
Nevertheless, recent years have witnessed the US government turning to cryptocurrency exchanges to liquidate seized Bitcoin assets through public auctions. One such instance occurred in March this year when the government successfully sold 9,118 BTC on Coinbase, as officially documented in public filings.
As a unique and historic piece of journalism in the cryptocurrency space, consider collecting this article as an NFT, thus preserving this moment in history and expressing support for independent reporting in the crypto sector.