When the FBI brought down the world’s largest online drug marketplace last year and arrested alleged mastermind Ross Ulbricht, they also took possession of the site’s assets – nearly 30,000 Bitcoins. On Thursday, the US Federal Marshalls moved those coins in preparation to auction them off later this month.
In what’s being described as an eBay-style auction, the government will essentially trade real money for virtual currency. Those without deep pockets need not apply as the coins will be sold in blocks of 3,000 Bitcoins (roughly $1.8 million worth) over a 12-hour period on June 27.
Bids will be placed via e-mail using a form on the US Marshals’ website. Those interested in participating must register between June 16 and June 23 as well as make a refundable deposit of $200,000 using a bank wire transfer from an account in the US.
It’s unclear whether or not this is the best time to cash out but one thing is for sure: Bitcoin traders clearly see an opportunity here. Once news of the sale spread, Bitcoin value took a sharp nose-dive. As of writing, coin value is down roughly $45.
Ulbricht’s personal stash of Bitcoins – 144,341 to be exact – isn’t being included in the auction. The alleged mastermind claims the coins aren’t subject to civil forfeiture rules. His lawyer, Joshua Dratel, said the civil forfeiture action has been stayed pending the outcome of the criminal case.