News - The number of Bitcoin owned by the biggest whales

By Sam Fröling

The number of Bitcoin owned by the biggest whales

Bitcoin (BTC)
Wallets and Whales
The number of Bitcoin, owned by the biggest whales

Satoshi Nakamoto, Binance or the FBI: who owns the most Bitcoin? An overview of the 10 biggest crypto whales.

When we talk about whales in the cryptocurrency context, we are talking about the top of the food chain: wealthy investors and bulging wallets. The analysis platform Glassnode currently classifies 1,500 addresses with more than 1,000 Bitcoin as whales. Together, they control nearly half of the total amount in circulation. And may therefore have a noticeable impact on market trends. Or they are simply stinking rich.

As transparent as blockchain reveals such figures: Who belongs to the elite is a trickier question. And that depends mostly on the method of calculation. Bitinfocharts tracks the largest wallets in the "Bitcoin Rich List." The list contains a few surprises, but is incomplete for comparison. That's because the largest wallets say only a limited amount about who owns the most Bitcoin. As seen with Satoshi Nakamoto.

The richest Bitcoin whales

Hackers are licking their fingers after the "Bitcoin Rich List". In total, the top ten hold more than US$52 billion, about six percent of the total amount of Bitcoin in circulation. Official records and a detective's instinct have assigned most of the addresses to their owners over the years. Besides the usual suspects, there are a few surprises.

10. Tether - presumably

The tenth largest wallet according to Bitinfocharts currently has 66,465 Bitcoin worth US$2.9 billion. No one has officially claimed responsibility for this wallet. According to crypto provider 21 Shares it belongs to Tether. Ownership of the wallet would match the company's quarterly earnings.

9. Binance for the first time

Wallet number nine is one from Binance, as the company announced. The world's largest crypto exchange currently holds 68,200 BTC for $2.9 billion.

8. legacy of the darknet

Silk Road was one of the largest trading centers on the darknet. In 2012, several thousand Bitcoin were stolen by cyber attacks. An individual referred to in documents only as "Individual X" handed the Bitcoin over to the FBI in November 2020. It is not known if there was an agreement with government agencies. Today, the FBI controls the 69,370 BTC with an equivalent value of more than three billion U.S. dollars.

7. impressive stolen goods

The eighth-largest wallet also tells a spectacular story of theft. It contains Bitcoin that was stolen from Mt Gox, once the largest BTC exchange. Founder Mark Kapeles stated on Twitter: "I hereby confirm that the 79,956.55 Bitcoin sent to the 1Feex address on March 1, 2011, was transferred from the original MtGox Bitcoin wallet without proper authorization and is considered stolen property belonging to MtGox's estate and for the benefit of MtGox's creditors." Meanwhile, the assets have reached US$3.5 billion. To date, nothing from Bitcoin has been paid out.

6. A well-kept secret

It is still unclear who is in sixth place. The wallet, which was first active in September 2019, attracted attention with a single transaction involving more than 94,500 Bitcoin. According to an analysis from TokenAnalyst, about a third of this came from Huobi. It is not known whether this is a wallet of the crypto exchange or a whale that withdrew funds. The exchange manages assets totaling US$4.1 billion.

5. In the hands of the FBI

In 2016, there was a cyber attack on the crypto exchange Bitfinex. About 120,000 Bitcoin were stolen, part of which was deposited into the currently fifth-largest wallet in February 2022. A married couple was arrested when they tried to launder Bitcoin. The total amount is 94,643 Bitcoin, about US$4.1 billion. This wallet is also in the possession of the FBI.

4. Inexhaustible Bitcoin reserves.

The fourth-largest wallet is a cold wallet from Binance. In June 2023, it received 130,177 BTC in a transaction from another cold wallet on the crypto exchange. It currently holds 115,177 BTC for the equivalent of five billion U.S. dollars.

3. under suspicion

According to the blockchain analytics platform Arkham Intelligence goes bronze to the trading platform Robinhood. However, the company has never officially confirmed this. The wallet currently holds 127,136 BTC for $5.5 billion.

2. Having better than needing

The jump to the second-largest wallet is big. The second largest wallet manages 212,220 BTC, about 9.3 billion USD. This is a cold wallet of the crypto exchange Bitfinex.

1. the exchange top dog

First place goes to - who would have thought - Binance. The exchange manages 248,597 BTC, 1.2 percent of the total amount of Bitcoin in circulation, on its cold wallet. Equivalent value: US$10.9 billion.

Not complete

But the list is not yet complete. If only because Bitcoin positions are often spread across multiple wallets. For example, it is well-known that asset manager Grayscale has 643,572 Bitcoin, more than US$28 billion, spread across 1,750 wallets. MicroStrategy property 189,150 Bitcoin, more than the third-largest wallet. The US$8.4 billion is said to be in two wallets. At least 17,732 Bitcoin allegedly privately owned from MicroStrategy co-founder Michael Saylor.

There are others known to have reached billionaire status with Bitcoin: Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, the Winklevoss twins, Tim Draper. But one person puts them all in the shade: Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitcoin's inventor is believed to have mined more than 22,000 blocks and may have up to 1.1 million Bitcoin in more than 20,000 addresses. This would correspond to a value of about $50 billion.

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