You've heard of policemen's auctions, in which local law enforcement auction off the personal possessions of criminals who have been stripped of their fortunes. Faberge eggs of unknown provenance, for example, seized from a disgraced drug lord. The U.S. Marshals Service is doing more or less the same thing with Bitcoin: On Friday, June 13, its web site had the improbable announcement:


29,656.51306529 bitcoins

At the exchange rate at the time of this posting, that is the equivalent of US$17,395,620.87. By that measure, fronting the U.S. Marshals $200,000 seems more than reasonable.

Where did this BTC come from? It was seized in from the e-commerce site Silk Road, an illegal decentralized market where every drug known to man could be purchased, and purchased with BTC. The FBI shut down Silk Road in October 2013, and arrested its alleged founder, Ross William Ulbricht, charging him with charges ranging from computer hacking to narcotics trafficking.

The BTC up for grabs, according to the U.S. Marshals official site, was that residing in bitcoin wallet files contained on Silk Road servers. In other words, the money belonged to the customers who had been buying and selling drugs on Silk Road. As for the main culprit, the site specifies that Ross' assets are not included in the lot [all caps in original]:


In a way, this news should be reassuring to the Bitcoin community: it's yet another bit of proof that the U.S. government really does take Bitcoin seriously as a currency. If it were all vapor or a figment of everyone's imagination, there would have been nothing to seize and sell.

For those wishing to partake, bidder registration deadlines are June 16 and June 23, 2014, and the auction itself takes place on June 27, 2014, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    The Easy Way To Measure Bitcoin's Fair Market Value: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

    How do you determine the fair market value of a currency that has appreciated faster than the shares of even the hottest technology stocks?
  2. Investing News

    Will Bitcoin And Walmart Force Western Union To Change Its Business Model?

    Western Union is recognized across the globe for providing a fast, efficient way to move money. Just walk into a Western Union office and you can transfer money to friends, relatives or business ...
  3. Investing Basics

    Why Is Bitcoin's Value So Volatile?

    Bitcoin's value fluctuates due to a confluence of factors, including media hype and perceived value.
  4. Investing Basics

    Could One Bitcoin Come To Be Worth $1 Million? Q&A

    "If Bitcoin lives up to its potential and becomes the working capital of international trade, it could be used for cross border transactions."
  5. Investing Basics

    What is Bitcoin Mining?

    How does Bitcoin get released into circulation?
  6. Forex Strategies

    Benefits & Risks of Trading Forex with Bitcoin

    Want to trade forex using bitcoins? Don’t jump on the bandwagon until you compare the risks to the benefits.
  7. Forex Strategies

    How To Trade Forex With Bitcoin

    We look at ways to trade forex with bitcoin and the pitfalls in doing so.
  8. Investing Basics

    Bitcoin ETFs: How Do They Work?

    ETFs offer a cost-effective, safe and hassle-free way to invest and trade bitcoins as stocks, without worrying about the security of digital wallets.
  9. Economics

    How Central Banks Control The Supply Of Money

    A look at the ways central banks pump or drain money from the economy to keep it healthy.
  10. Investing

    Risks & Rewards Of Investing In Bitcoin

    Since Bitcoin is not a company and therefore does not have a publicly traded stock, how can you invest in it?
  1. How is a block chain network useful for trading goods and assets in virtual currencies?

    Perhaps the most famous quote associated with blockchain technology came from an anonymous virtual currency user, who described ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does a block chain record in a bitcoin exchange transaction?

    The bitcoin blockchain is essentially an enormous, shared, encrypted list of which addresses hold what bitcoin balances. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does a block chain prevent double-spending of Bitcoins?

    Double-spending – the incidence of one individual successfully spending a Bitcoin balance more than once – is a major concern ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Will M1 ever become obsolete?

    The form of M1 money in an economy may change over time, but M1 money will continue to exist for the foreseeable future; ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why does fighting money laundering reduce overall crime?

    Money laundering is the process of converting funds received from illegal activities into ostensibly clean money that does ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Who sets the global standard to stop money laundering and how is it implemented?

    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sets the international standard for fighting money laundering. Formed in 1989 by leaders ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  2. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  3. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  4. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  5. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
  6. Cost Accounting

    A type of accounting process that aims to capture a company's costs of production by assessing the input costs of each step ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!