The U.S. Marshals Service will be auctioning off nearly 30,000 Bitcoins worth $US17.5 million on Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The coins come from the government’s seizure of Silk Road’s massive Bitcoin stash, worth more than $US80 million.
The announcement of the auction earlier this month sent prices below $US600 for the first time in weeks, as the community seems to think they will go for a discount. The assets have been divided into 10 blocks, nine with 3,000 Bitcoins (~$1.8 million each), and one with a single block of 2,656 Bitcoins (~$1.6 million).
If you don’t own any Bitcoin now, how can you get any?
The deadline to register directly with USMS passed today at noon. Participants were required to front a $US200,000 deposit to join the bidding. (If you don’t win the bid you get it back).
But there’s still another way. SecondMarket, the New York-based alternative investments firm helmed by Barry Silbert, has set up a syndicate that will pool bids. To subscribe, you must make a minimum bid of $US50,000 minimum bid, plus a 5% fee. The deadline for joining the syndicate is noon Thursday.
You can also obtain shares in SecondMarket’s Bitcoin Investment Trust in lieu of a direct allocation of Bitcoin. To do so only requires a $US25,000 minimum bid. In order to receive shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust you must be an accredited investor and the standard fund fees will apply.
Coindesk recently published a list that was accidentally leaked showing folks who’ve already signed up to bid. They include Silbert, Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, a lawyer at megafirm Wilmer Hale, a quantitative arbitrageur at BNP Paribas, and Yelp’s director of public policy.
We also asked DOJ some additional questions about the auction. Here were their written emailed responses.
BUSINESS INSIDER: What were DOJ’s principal reasons for deciding to hold this auction now, as opposed to an earlier or later date?
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: We have a complex assets team in our Asset Forfeiture Division that worked with specialists from the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, and the Department of Justice to develop the auction plan.
BI: Why has DOJ decided to auction only ~20% of the Bitcoins seized in the Silk Road case? Will there be further auctions?
DOJ: That was the amount of the forfeiture order by the court on Jan. 15, 2014.
BI: How many bidders does DOJ expect to have, or hope to have?
DOJ: We don’t speculate.
BI: Are international bidders permitted?
Yes. Bids will not be accepted, however, from any person or entity that appear on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control list of “Specially Designated Nationals.” All deposit and purchase funds must be received from a US bank.