The U.S. Marshals will auction off nearly 4,000 bitcoins obtained through various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases, the agency announced Thursday.
Bitcoin is a digital currency not associated with a bank or government that has gained popularity in online markets over the past few years. The value of a single Bitcoin Thursday fluctuated between $13,900 and just over $14,000. The currency grazed $20,000 for a single bitcoin in November before the value declined late last year.
At $14,000 per bitcoin, the U.S. Marshals stash would be worth more than $53 million.
The U.S. Marshals will auction off about 3,813 bitcoins between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time Jan. 22. Potential bidders bust register by noon Easter Time Jan. 19 and provide a $200,000 deposit, which will be returned to non-winning bidders.
The bitcoins will be offered in 11 blocks sales blocks: five blocks of 500 bitcoins, five blocks of 100 bitcoins and one block of approximately 813 bitcoins.
More information about the auction is available at www.usmarshals.gov/assets/2018/bitcoinauction.
Bitcoins are essentially computer code digitally signed when they are transformed from one owner to another. Their origin is somewhat of a mystery. The currency was launched in 2009 by a person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. As the digital currency gained popularity, Nakamoto disappeared for the bitcoin scene. Bitcoin is often described as cryptocurrency because it relies on cryptography to secure transactions, which are anonymous.
The anonymity has made currency popular in the tech industry, speculators, libertarians and criminals.
American exchange operator CME Group has plans for a futures market in the U.S., but some high-profile banking executives have criticized bitcoin, with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon calling it a “fraud.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.