The U.S. Marshals Service announced Thursday that it plans to auction off 3,813 bitcoins. In total, the bitcoins are worth about $54 million at current prices and were seized in “various federal criminal, civil, and administrative cases.”
The auction will not be an open auction, and bidders will have to register before January 19 and put down a $200,000 deposit in order to participate. The auction itself will take place in a 6-hour period on January 22, and winners will be notified that day.
The bitcoins will be offered for sale in 11 blocks, of 100, 500, and the largest of which will contain 813 bitcoins. At today’s prices, the smallest of these blocks at 100 BTC would be worth roughly $1.409 million, though the government auction may fetch prices below or above where the cryptocurrency is trading.
The auction represents an opportunity for investors to purchase a significant number of bitcoins without dramatically impacting prices on online exchanges.
This auction will be smaller than some prior auctions the Department of Justice agency has held. In 2014, venture capitalist Tim Draper was the sole winner of 30,000 auctioned bitcoins. SecondMarket, which is now part of Nasdaq, also won a large number of bitcoins in a previous auction.