Bitcoin from Satoshi-era Wallet suddenly activates after 11 years
A bitcoin wallet that has been dormant for over 10 years has mysteriously become active. The 500BTC held in the account were worth less than $250 when it was mined in January 2011, but is now valued at $23.5 million at today’s exchange rates.
The owner of the wallet is still unknown, but it is clear that they were an early adopter of bitcoin. The last time the funds moved, bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto was still active online, however, the semi-anonymous nature of transactions means that no definitive link can be made.
The sudden activation of the dormant wallet is not the first time a so-called crypto “sleeping whale” has awoken in recent months. A similar sum moved just a few weeks before bitcoin’s 2021 record price high.
The process by which bitcoin is created, known as mining, means that it was minted in batches of 50BTC in the first four years after its inception in 2009. So-called Satoshi-era bitcoins are highly prized among collectors and investors, as the early wallets that held these funds have not moved for years.
This particular 50 BTC block was mined on February 9th, 2010, just a month after Nakamoto released the bitcoin software. The block also contains some test data, which suggests it may have been used by one of the early adopters of bitcoin.
Many of these over decade-old bitcoin wallets that hold these early mined bitcoins have remained inactive ever since. A popular reason is that owners have either lost or forgotten their wallet access keys.
The most valuable of these wallets contains 79,957BTC – which is worth just over $3.8 billion at current rates– while the cumulative sum held in all the dormant wallets is in excess of $16 billion at today’s rates. As such, any bitcoin mined prior to Nakamoto’s disappearance represents a significant amount of wealth that could potentially be transferred at any time.
With bitcoin’s market supply capped at 21 million BTC, this inactive cryptocurrency represents almost 2 percent of the cryptocurrency’s overall market supply.
Speculations abound about the sudden activation of this latest sleeping whale although one possible reason would be in order to cash it in for fiat currency. Another theory is that the owner accidentally found their long-lost private keys and gained access to a massive fortune. Another interesting theory is that the owner got out of jail and finally managed to cash out the cryptocurrency.
According to data from BitInfoCharts. There are 100s of such bitcoin wallet addresses that have been inactive in the last decade. The most valuable of these dormant wallets contains about 80,000 BTC, worth more than $3.7 billion at current market prices, it says.
Altogether, over USD 9 billion worth of bitcoin is locked in the top five whale wallets that have not been opened in about 10 years. This huge amount of wealth could potentially re-enter the market and cause a major price rally if even a small portion of it is sold.