EY is selling $16m worth of Bitcoin at auction

A pile of Bitcoins. George Frey/Getty Images

EY is auctioning off 24,518 bitcoin, worth up to $A16 million, next month, in an Australian first.

EY transactions partner Adam Nikitins says undisclosed vendor has asked the company to sell the bitcoin, confiscated last year under proceeds of crime laws.

EY plans to sell the bitcoin in 12 lots via a 48-hour sealed bid auction between June 20 and 21 and expects to get more than $1 million for each lot.

Bidders will be able to submit bids on 11 lots of 2,000 bitcoin and one lot of approximately 2,518 bitcoin.

The auction is the first bitcoin sale process of its kind in Australia and only the second globally after the US Marshals Servic sold off more than $A160 million worth of bitcoin confiscated from convicted online drugs marketplace founder Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht was sentenced to life imprisonment for his website Silk Road, but has appealed the decision. His bitcoin was sold in several lots.

Adam Nikitins from EY said he expected the buyers of this latest batch to come from North America and Europe.

“With each lot of Bitcoin currently valued at more than AUD $1m, we are targeting sophisticated investors who can see the value of investing in a growing digital asset,” he said.

“Interest in this technology continues to grow. The number of bitcoin transactions since 2012 has quadrupled and parties are seeing more opportunities and uses for the technology.”

The price of Bitcoin spiked last week, coinciding with news that the Japanese will postpone a sales tax increase. It’s currently trading for around $A725 per coin. The cryptocurrency’s value has been as high as $1200, but has also fallen as low as $200.

When the price topped $US500 on May 28, it was the highest seen since August 2014, gaining around 10% for the week.

Nikitins said he expects interest from digital asset investment managers, digital currency exchanges, and investment banks and hedge funds for the EY sale.

Expressions of interest for the auction open on June 7 and close June 10. Nikitins said interested parties can submit their interest in the sealed bid auction via email at [email protected]

While Bitcoin remains on the fringes of currency, the technology behind it, the blockchain, has attracted the interest of major financial institutions such as the Commonwealth Bank, and even the CSIRO.