In brief

  • A large auction of 4,000 Bitcoin is coming to a close.
  • The minimum bid for the auction was $200,000.
  • The US Marshals have lost out on billions of dollars in the past.

The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is closing its auction of 4,041 Bitcoin (currently worth over $40 million) previously forfeited in dozens of various federal criminal, civil and administrative cases. The winning bidders have until 2:00 PM EST today to wire purchase funds to the USMS—or risk being disqualified.

For the purpose of this auction, the department has been collecting applications for over two weeks starting February 3, with a minimum bid of $200,000. The stash of confiscated Bitcoin was sold in blocks: five blocks of 500 BTC, 10 blocks of 100 BTC, 10 blocks of 50 BTC and one block of roughly 41.6 BTC. Only the eligible registered bidders who have received an official Bid Form from the USMS were able to participate in the online auction.

The USMS has already notified the winning bidders with instructions while emails to unsuccessful bidders may go out at a later date, according to the announcement.

According to the auction’s rules, eligible bidders who offered the highest price became “prevailing bidders.” If there were multiple bids at the highest price, the first bid received prevailed, and if a winning bidder defaulted, the next highest bidder was declared the winner.

Interestingly enough, the US Marshals have previously lost out on billions of dollars by selling seized Bitcoin too early, according to Jameson Lopp, CEO of key-security company Casa. He tracked 185,230 Bitcoin that was seized by the USMS and was sold for $151,440,000. At the current price of around $10,000, that makes for a $1.85 billion total—with lost gains of $1.7 billion.

As Decrypt reported previously, more than $200,000 worth of the Bitcoin came from a case against two drug dealers from Alabama. Tyler Lee Ward and Henry Long Nguyen were sent to prison in May 2019 for conspiring to sell Alprazolam, maintaining a “drug-involved premise” and “conspiracy to commit money laundering,” according to a press statement by the Department of Justice.