Ripple's cofounder may have lost nearly $12 billion as XRP continues to slide in the 'cryptocurrency bloodbath'

The cryptocurrency bloodbath has wiped billions from markets as the tokens continue to lose the momentum they carried into 2017.

Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, who is confirmed to hold 5.19 billion of the company’s XRP cryptocurrency, could be one of the biggest victims. Assuming that his 5.19 billion XRP holding has remained constant, at Wednesday’s price of $US1.04 per token, Larsen has lost an estimated $US11.8 billion since the cryptocurrency’s high of $US3.31, hit on January 4.

Of course, the co-founder could have cashed out at any time, though a sell-off of that magnitude would likely have sent massive waves through both the XRP markets and cryptocurrencies as a whole.

At XRP’s peak, Larsen’s holdings would have made him the 21st richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index – just behind Indian business magnate Mukesh Ambani.

The 57-year-old stepped down as CEO of Ripple in November 2016, turning over the reigns to current CEO Brad Garlinghouse, who owns a 6.3% stake in the company, Forbes reported in January. Larsen currently serves as chairman.

XRP’s decline began shortly after the new year, when a brief Twitter spat between a New York Times reporter and CEO Brad Garlinghouse seemed to bring down prices a bit. Later that week, CoinMarketCap, one of the most widely used cryptocurrency pricing sites, unexpectedly removed data from South Korean exchanges from its averages, causing it to show a dramatic drop in crypto prices across the board and possibly triggering further selling.

This week, reports from China and South Korea – two major areas of focus for Ripple – said the countries were mulling further clampdowns on cryptocurrency mining and exchanges, exacerbating the slide among all cryptocurrencies.

The continued slump comes amid reports that Russia could also be about to impose stricter regulations on the sector. The Russian news service TASS reported last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin said “legislative regulation will be definitely required in future” for cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin has remained the most widely-held cryptocurrency, but even the flagship token has taken a hit this month. On Wednesday the token fell below $US10,000 for the first time since it crossed the milestone in November.

“Despite the fact that bitcoin has almost halved from its peak of $US19,800 reached mid-December, it still remains 1100% higher than it was 12 months ago,” City Index’s Simon Revington said in an email.

“However, we could be seeing an important loss of momentum, especially given that Bitcoin hasn’t traded above $US15,000 since Tuesday. $US10,000 level is an important junction because it is a huge psychological level.”

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