The US Marshals Service is auctioning off another 50,000 bitcoins seized from last year’s Silk Road bust.
The auction for eligible bidders closes at 2 p.m. EST Thursday, and a winner will be announced Friday afternoon.
The last time the USMS auctioned off seized bitcoins, this past summer, investor Tim Draper walked away with just less than 30,000 BTC.
Because of the declining value of bitcoins relative to the dollar, 30,000 BTC in late June was worth more than what 50,000 BTC is today at current prices—around US$19 million for the former and around US$18.5 million for the latter.
“I do not expect the difference in price from the last auction to affect the activity—the major bidders have been involved with bitcoin for a while and they do not appear to be concerned about the current price,” Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria told Bloomberg.
Thursday’s phase of the USMS auction is actually the second. Potential bidders registered during a two-week period between November 17 and December 1. Eligible bidders were notified by Tuesday whether they could participate in today’s auction.
Last time the Marshals held a bitcoin auction, the list of eligible bidders was accidentally released just before the sealed-bidding round. There have been no such mishaps this time.
The bitcoins will be auctioned off in 20 blocks, split into Series A and Series B. Series A will feature 10 blocks of 2,000 bitcoins, and Series B will feature 10 blocks of 3,000 bitcoins.
Sealed bids can be made from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. EST, at which point this round of the auction will close.
The Marshals Service will notify the winning bidders by 5 p.m on Friday.
The FBI seized more than 173,000 bitcoins last fall when it shut down the Silk Road online marketplace.
They seized more than 144,000 bitcoins from Ross Ulbricht, whom the FBI alleges is Silk Road 1.0 founder Dread Pirate Roberts. As part of a civil forfeiture proceeding, Ulbricht and the government agreed to auction off all the seized bitcoins and hold the revenues in dollars until the case against Ulbricht is concluded.
After Friday, the USMS will still hold just over 94,000 bitcoins remaining from last November’s raid on Silk Road. They plan further auctions in the coming months.
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