Technology

Bidders snap up final Silk Road bitcoins

A physical Bitcoin Image copyright Reuters

The final 22,000 bitcoins seized during a raid on the internet marketplace Silk Road have been sold in a sealed-bid auction.

On Thursday, the US Marshals Service said four bidders had taken a share.

At the current market rate, 22,000 bitcoins are worth about $14.3m (£9.4m), but it is possible the bidders paid less.

Since 2014, the US Marshals Service has auctioned about 175,000 bitcoins confiscated from Silk Road.

What was Silk Road?

Silk Road was an online marketplace which US law enforcement agencies said was trading in illegal drugs.

It took its name from the historic trade routes spanning Europe, Asia and parts of Africa.

The website was closed in 2013 following raids by the FBI and other agencies. The site's founder Ross Ulbricht was jailed for life in 2015.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Ulbricht was given two life sentences

The seized bitcoins were taken from Ulbricht under civil forfeiture, which allows some US law enforcement agencies to seize assets from people suspected of criminal activity, without necessarily bringing charges.

The US Marshals Service said the latest and final auction of bitcoins from the Silk Road raid had attracted 11 bidders, matching the low turnout for a previous auction in December 2014.

One possible reason for the low number of bids is that the bitcoins were split into blocks of 2,000 for auction, each block having a market value of $790,000 (£520,000).

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