You Can Own Bitcoins That May Have Purchased Drugs on Silk Road

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 13 2014 3:38 PM

You Can Own Bitcoins That May Have Purchased Drugs on Silk Road

bitcoin

Image from the U.S. Marshals Service.

U.S. paper currency has traces of cocaine on it, and bitcoins are starting to have a digital tinge of the drug trade too.

The U.S. Marshals Service says it will auction off bitcoins seized from the digital black market Silk Road last year. The government has been mulling an auction for a few months, but a spokesperson for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Office told Forbes in January, “We have not yet determined exactly how the Bitcoins will be converted and liquidated.” Now the answer is here: Bidding will open June 27. Start thinking of your magic number.

29,655 bitcoins currently worth about $17.5 million were taken from Silk Road when the FBI shut it down last year. As the Washington Post points out, the government also took possession of 144,336 bitcoins from Silk Road leader Ross William Ulbricht, but Ulbricht is currently fighting to reclaim that cryptocurrency.

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To register for the auction (which you have to do by noon Eastern on June 23) you need to submit a signed copy of the Bidder Registration Form, a digitized copy of a government ID, and a $200,000 deposit wired from a bank in the United States. That may sound like a huge deposit, but it makes sense, given that bitcoins are going to be divided into 10 blocks for people to bid on—so each worth about $1.8 million today. (However, that could change, given how volatile bitcoin has been.) Bidding will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern, and winners will be notified on June 30. They'll have to pay up by July 1 or lose their $200,000 deposit.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.