Who Owns The Most Bitcoin?

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Last updated Jun 05, 2024 | 02:59 PM UTC

It’s hard to imagine that Bitcoin, the premier cryptocurrency, was valued at less than $70 a decade ago. Today, a single BTC is valued at more than $70,000.

When Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2008, it might’ve been hard to imagine that crypto would evolve into a $2.5trillion market within just over a decade.

Although this market continues to grow with thousands of tokens across different blockchains, BTC still retains more than half of the market share with a $1.3trn capital. 

So, with BTC being one of the most valuable digital assets in the world right now, one might wonder – who owns the most Bitcoin? And how much do they actually own? Let’s find out.Bitcoin (BTC). Source: Getty Images

Key takeaways

Largest individual Bitcoin holders

Satoshi Nakamoto: The pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin is believed to own over one million BTC.
Winklevoss twins: Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss own approximately 70,000 BTC. 
Tim Draper: The venture capitalist owns around 30,000 BTC.
Michael Saylor: The CEO of MicroStrategy personally owns about 17,700 BTC, while his company holds significantly more.

Major corporate Bitcoin holders

MicroStrategy: This business intelligence firm owns approximately 214,278 BTC.
Tesla: Elon Musk’s electric vehicle manufacturer holds about 9,720 BTC.
Marathon Digital Holdings: One of the largest Bitcoin mining company holds around 17,631 BTC.
Block.one: The company behind EOSIO owns about 140,000 BTC.

Governments and funds

US Government: Holds over 207,189 BTC, primarily from seizures related to criminal investigations.
Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC): Manages around 438,209 BTC, making it one of the largest holders through a fund structure.
Bulgaria: Allegedly holds about 213,000 BTC from a 2017 seizure.

Who owns the most Bitcoin in the world?

Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, remains the largest holder of the cryptocurrency. Nakamoto is believed to own over 1 million BTC, amassed during Bitcoin's early days when mining rewards were high and competition was minimal. 

This stash has remained untouched, save for a few test transactions, adding an air of mystery and intrigue. Nakamoto's holdings represent a significant portion of Bitcoin's total supply, and their potential movement could have a profound impact on the market.

It’s important to mention that Dr Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, claimed to be Satoshi for years. However, Wright was sued by the  Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) earlier this year, where the court dismissed his claims of being Bitcoin’s creator. 

Pictured below: a Satoshi Nakamoto statue in Hungary. Source: Getty ImagesSatoshi Nakamoto statue in Hungary. Source Getty Images

Winklevoss twins

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are among the earliest and most vocal Bitcoin advocates. They invested heavily in Bitcoin during its nascent stages and have since accumulated approximately 70,000 BTC. The twins founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, further solidifying their influence in the crypto space. Their strategic investments and public endorsements have played a crucial role in Bitcoin's mainstream acceptance.

Pictured below: Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss talk Bitcoin with with Maria Bartiromo on Wall Street Week in New York City, 2017. Source: Getty ImagesTyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss discuss bitcoin in New York City. Source: Getty Images

Tim Draper

Venture capitalist Tim Draper made headlines with his bold purchase of 30,000 BTC from a US government auction of Silk Road assets in 2014. Draper's foresight and confidence in Bitcoin's potential paid off as the cryptocurrency's value surged. His holdings underscore the importance of early adoption and the significant returns it can yield in the volatile world of cryptocurrencies.

Michael Saylor

Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, has become a prominent figure in the Bitcoin community. Saylor personally holds around 17,700 BTC, while MicroStrategy, under his leadership, has acquired over 214,278 BTC. Saylor's advocacy for Bitcoin as a corporate treasury asset has inspired other companies to consider similar strategies, highlighting Bitcoin's role as a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty.

Pictured below: Michael Saylor at the Bitcoin Conference 2023 at Miami Beach Convention Center in May 2023 in Florida. Source: Getty ImagesMichael Saylor Microstrategy Source: Getty Images

What is the history of Bitcoin ownership?

Bitcoin's ownership has evolved dramatically since its launch in 2009. Initially, a small group of enthusiasts and early adopters dominated the scene. These pioneers mined Bitcoin using personal computers, accumulating significant amounts of the cryptocurrency. 

Laszlo Hanyecz was one of the most popular early owners of Bitcoin. Hanyecz historically became famous for buying two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins, which were only valued at $41 in 2010. As Bitcoin gained popularity, exchanges emerged, allowing for easier access and broader distribution.

During the early years, forums and communities played a vital role in spreading Bitcoin awareness. However, the landscape shifted as Bitcoin's value rose, attracting institutional investors and large corporations. Legal seizures and governmental holdings further diversified Bitcoin's ownership, adding layers of complexity to its distribution.

What are some companies that own a significant amount of Bitcoin?

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy, led by CEO Michael Saylor, stands as the largest corporate holder of Bitcoin. The company has acquired over 214,278 BTC, emphasizing Bitcoin's role as a strategic reserve asset. Saylor's aggressive acquisition strategy began in 2020, driven by concerns over fiat currency devaluation. MicroStrategy's holdings have positioned it at the forefront of corporate Bitcoin adoption, influencing other firms to consider similar strategies.

Tesla, Inc.

Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer led by Elon Musk, made headlines in early 2021 by purchasing approximately 9,720 BTC. This move signaled a significant endorsement of Bitcoin from a major public company. Although Tesla sold some of its holdings later that year, it remains one of the largest corporate holders. Musk's public statements and tweets about Bitcoin have often influenced the market, demonstrating the power of high-profile endorsements.

Marathon Digital Holdings

Marathon Digital Holdings, a leading Bitcoin mining company, holds around 17,631 BTC. Marathon's strategy focuses on mining Bitcoin and retaining it as a long-term asset. The company's significant holdings underscore the growing importance of mining firms in the Bitcoin ecosystem, providing essential network support while accumulating substantial reserves.

Block.one

Block.one, the company behind the EOSIO blockchain protocol, holds approximately 140,000 BTC. This significant stash highlights Block.one's early and substantial investment in Bitcoin, reflecting its confidence in the cryptocurrency's long-term value. Block.one's holdings make it one of the largest private holders of Bitcoin.

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust operates as a fund that provides institutional and retail investors with access to Bitcoin through a regulated investment vehicle. GBTC manages around 438,209 BTC, making it one of the largest holders. The trust's structure allows investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without directly purchasing and holding the cryptocurrency, thereby broadening the investor base.

Other notable companies that hold Bitcoin

  • Bitfinex: This cryptocurrency exchange holds around 192,508 BTC.
  • Tether Holdings LTD: Known for issuing the USDT stablecoin, Tether owns approximately 66,465 BTC.
  • Robinhood: The financial services company holds around 118,300 BTC in its wallets.
  • Hut 8 Mining Corp: This Canadian mining company holds about 9,366 BTC.
  • Coinbase: As one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase holds around 9,000 BTC in its corporate treasury.

What is the market value of the largest Bitcoin holder?

Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto remains the largest Bitcoin holder, with over 1 million BTC. At the current market price of approximately $27,000 per BTC, Nakamoto's holdings are valued at around $27 billion. This immense value underscores Nakamoto's significant influence on the Bitcoin market. If these Bitcoins were ever moved or sold, it could have a substantial impact on Bitcoin's price and market stability.

Market value comparisons

  • MicroStrategy's holdings: MicroStrategy's 214,278 BTC, at $27,000 per BTC, equates to approximately $5.78 billion. This substantial value highlights the company's strategic investment and its confidence in Bitcoin's long-term potential.
  • Tesla's holdings: Tesla's 9,720 BTC are valued at around $262million. Although a smaller holding compared to MicroStrategy, Tesla's involvement brought significant attention to Bitcoin from both retail and institutional investors.
  • Winklevoss Twins: Their 70,000 BTC are valued at approximately $1.89billion. The twins' early and sustained investment in Bitcoin has solidified their position as major players in the cryptocurrency world.
  • Tim Draper: Draper's 30,000 BTC are valued at roughly $810million. His strategic purchase from the Silk Road auction exemplifies the foresight that can yield significant returns in the cryptocurrency market.

The impact of Bitcoin whales on the market

Despite there being over 100 million Bitcoin owners, BTC ownership is highly concentrated among the key individuals and organizations mentioned in this article. This has been one of the biggest concerns of Bitcoin ownership, as whales often have a major influence on Bitcoin’s market position due to their significant holdings. Their actions can cause price fluctuations, shape market sentiment, and impact liquidity. Understanding the behavior of these whales provides insight into Bitcoin's market dynamics.

Whales hold substantial portions of Bitcoin's total supply, which means their buying or selling activities can dramatically impact the market. For example, a single whale moving a large amount of Bitcoin into or out of an exchange can cause significant price volatility. This phenomenon was evident during the 2017 bull run when large-scale movements by whales led to sharp price increases followed by corrections​​.

Whales often employ sophisticated strategies to manage their holdings and influence the market. These strategies include:

  • Gradual selling: To avoid market disruptions, whales might sell large amounts of Bitcoin gradually. This method helps maintain market stability while allowing them to realize profits.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) trades: Whales often use OTC markets for large transactions. OTC trades do not affect exchange order books directly, preventing large price swings. This approach helps whales move significant amounts of Bitcoin without causing panic or euphoria in the market​ (Coinweb)​.
  • Accumulation during dips: Whales frequently accumulate Bitcoin during market dips. This strategy not only allows them to buy at lower prices but also provides support during downturns, mitigating potential crashes​ 

So, whales also play a role in shaping market sentiment and psychology. Their actions are closely monitored by other investors, often leading to herd behavior. For instance, when a whale moves a large amount of Bitcoin to an exchange, it might signal an impending sale, causing panic selling among smaller investors. Conversely, large purchases by whales can infuse confidence and drive prices up​.

High liquidity is essential for stable markets, allowing for large trades without significant price disruptions. However, when a small number of whales control a large portion of the supply, it can lead to liquidity crises. If several whales decide to sell simultaneously, it can overwhelm the market and lead to sharp price declines​​.

Conclusion

Overall, the lion’s share of Bitcoin ownership is concentrated among a few key players — individuals, corporations, and entities — who significantly influence the market. Satoshi Nakamoto remains the largest holder, followed by early adopters, venture capitalists, and corporations.

The actions of these Bitcoin whales can cause substantial market fluctuations, impact liquidity, and shape investor sentiment. Understanding their behavior provides valuable insights into Bitcoin's market dynamics and future trends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who currently owns the most Bitcoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, holds the largest amount, with over one million BTC. These Bitcoins have remained untouched since their creation, save for a few test transactions. The Winklevoss twins are the second largest holders.

What companies own a significant amount of Bitcoin?

  • MicroStrategy: Over 214,278 BTC.
  • Tesla, Inc.: Approximately 9,720 BTC.
  • Marathon Digital Holdings: Around 17,631 BTC.
  • Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC): Manages about 438,209 BTC.
  • Block.one: Holds approximately 140,000 BTC.

What are the potential risks of owning a large amount of Bitcoin?

  • Market volatility: Large holdings can cause significant price swings when moved or sold.
  • Security risks: Large amounts of Bitcoin are attractive targets for hackers.
  • Regulatory risks: Governments may impose regulations or restrictions on large Bitcoin holdings.
  • Liquidity issues: Selling large amounts quickly can impact market liquidity and prices.

Written by

Mohammad is an experienced crypto writer with a specialisation in cybersecurity. He covers a wide variety of topics spanning everything from blockchain and Web3 to the retail crypto space. He has also worked for several start-ups and ICOs, gaining insight into the mindset and motivation of the founders behind the projects.