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The Mystery Of 80,000 Bitcoins Stolen From Mt. Gox

The Mystery Of 80,000 Bitcoins Stolen From Mt. Gox 101
Source: iStock/Ja'Crispy

The sixth richest Bitcoin wallet with nearly BTC 80,000 (c. USD 653 million) has been lying dormant ever since March 2011. The coins originate from the first major hack of the now bankrupt Mt. Gox exchange, and the owner of the wallet has never spent a sat, leading many to question whether its owner is an extremely disciplined ‘hodler’ or the private keys to the major wallet are lost.

The stolen 79,956 BTC originate from the first major Mt. Gox hack in 2011. At the time of the hack, it was worth USD 73,000 and like all bitcoins, experienced a whopping c. 9,300% increase in value to date.

“That address alone — if that is actually a whale who’s been holding their coins for so long without doing anything with them — if they decide, ‘Okay, let’s go sell them,’ it would crush the market completely. But it’s really hard to say anything about the status of that address: Are those keys lost? Is that person even still alive? It’s really hard to say anything about that, unfortunately: it’s just waiting to see if anything happens with those addresses,” founders of Whale Alert, a popular Twitter account that tracks large transactions on eleven blockchains, said in a recent interview with SFOX.

"The reason why this haul <..> was never spent is unknown. Most likely, the thief is unable to access the private key," cryptocurrency data and analysis firm Coin Metrics added in their report yesterday.

Even so, it might be too difficult to "clean" the coins today, since it's becoming easier to track Bitcoin transactions. The hack constitutes the second-largest BTC theft in Bitcoin history. The biggest Bitcoin theft is BTC 119,756 loss by Bitfinex in August 2016, of which only BTC 22 were recovered.

Interestingly, one can observe dozens of sat transactions coming in over the years for unknown reasons. Either as a homage or joke (or both), it accumulated an extra BTC 1.2 to date, resulting in a total of BTC 79,957.

Mt. Gox Whale hacker address
Source: BitInfoCharts.com

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, Coin Metrics estimates that at least 1.5 million of bitcoins (c. USD 12 billion), or c. 8% of the current supply, might be inaccessible today.

"The common adage that there will only ever be 21M coins is an optimistic one. Over time, quirks, bugs and other events impact how many Bitcoins actually exist," Coin Metrics said.

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