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Ernst Young revealed today that it has successfully auctioned off 24,518 bitcoins worth around A$22 million ($16 million) as part of a scheduled auction after the Australian government confiscated the bitcoins from a Silk Road user.
Financial services firm Ernst Young oversaw the closed international auction, which was open to bidders from 20 June and ended 21 June, who supplied a deposit amounting to A$338,698 ($250,000) in addition to meeting other financial requirements.
The price paid by the bidders and the number of bidders involved were not disclosed by EY; however, there were 11 lots of 2,000 bitcoins and one lot of 2,518 bitcoins. Each lot is reported to have been worth more than A$1 million, though bidders could have paid significantly less.
In a statement, EY transactions partner Adam Nikitins said that the auction attracted ‘significant interest’ from individuals including bitcoin exchanges, digital asset investment funds, and high net-worth individuals.
The process was very competitive and demonstrates the growing appetite for digital assets such as Bitcoin. The value of Bitcoin increased significantly over the past month, however, bidding remained strong.
Silk Road Crime
The bitcoins sold in the auction were originally seized by the Australian government in 2013 in connection with a prosecution of a Silk Road user who was arrested for dealing drugs online.
The 32-year-old suspect was given an 11-year jail term after pleading guilty to commercial drug trafficking. When police searched his properties they found three electronic wallets containing 24,518 bitcoins.
According to EY, this auction was the first of its kind in Australia, but the second worldwide.
In November 2015, the U.S. Marshals auctioned off around 44,241 bitcoins, which were recovered from Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht. He was given a life sentence on May 29, 2015, for his involvement with the now-defunct online dark web marketplace, which sold drugs and other illegal items.
Image from Flickr. Image courtesy of Antana.