It’s a like a Hollywood movie. A shadowy figure works out out how to plunder a huge hoard of cash hidden away years ago by person or persons unknown, somehow connected to the criminal underworld. The money moves but no one knows who’s doing it — only that something big is happening, and that there are machinations going on far behind the scenes that most of us will never understand.
Thousands of bitcoins sat in numerous accounts that have been dormant since 2014 have started moving. The original address and the activity connected to it have been the topic of an extensive investigation by reddit user sick_silk. The total value of those accounts, including BCH and other fork coins, approaches a billion dollars.
In one post he discusses the origins of the BTC; in another, he shows that large amounts — around $100 million — have just been moved to Binance and Bitfinex — suggesting they will be sold for alts and USD respectively.
From the analysis, it seems that the bitcoins ultimately come from a Silk Road address — the famous dark market that sold drugs and other illegal items for BTC, and that was shut down by the FBI in 2013. It appears that the coins were ‘tumbled’ back in 2014, and split among many different addresses. However, it was still possible to link them back to the original account, which was set up in 2011, with a transfer associated with Ross Ulbricht: the ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ who founded the Silk Road.
Sick_silk is apparently an old redditor but has created a new account to post his insights and conclusions. Asked why he used a freshly-created reddit account, he simply replies ‘Good opsec’: someone is moving a lot of money and if it’s connected to the Silk Road or other illegal activity, there may be some unpleasant characters behind it. Anonymity is wise under such circumstances — though all of the data required to conduct his analysis is available online, thanks to the transparency of the blockchain. As he says:
I can track the owner’s funds, but I cannot find out who he/she is.
Also if I am able to graph this, imagine what the FBI/CIA/NSA/… can do with their tools and brains…
So I think I am not really a threat to this owner, however I prefer staying Anonymous just in case
And if I die (!!!), someone else will be able to continue the work, it’s free.
The discovery that this massive stash of BTC is being sent to exchanges is a big deal because it signals some very large sell orders may be about to hit the market — for USD (or USDT), on Bitfinex, and for alts on Binance.
It’s also interesting that the coins, clearly linked to the Silk Road, haven’t been touched in four years. It’s possible that someone who conducted various illegal activities several years ago has sat tight on their BTC (perhaps because, languishing in prison, they had no alternative?), and is now about to reap the benefits in a major way. Perhaps Ross Ulbricht, who was sentenced to life without parole for running the Silk Road, has finally given up the keys to a fortune. Or perhaps it’s some other early adopter who frequented the Silk Road back in the day, either as customer or merchant.
Perhaps the most likely scenario is that Ulbricht was telling the truth when he maintained that the Silk Road was not run by him alone, and that more than one ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ had access to those coins.
There’s a lot more to this, both fact and speculation, and doubtless further details will emerge in time. This is an intriguing story that harks back to a different era in bitcoin’s history, as well as one that has ongoing implications for the crypto sector today.
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