Ernst & Young Auctioned $22 Million in Digital Assets

Physical_Bitcoin_by_Mike_Cauldwell_(Casascius)Ernst & Young (EY), multinational professional services firm headquartered in London, sold approximately $22 million (AU) in digital currency from 24,000 units during a global auction on June 20-21. The bitcoin sold during that auction was confiscated as the proceeds of crime during 2015.

Bitcoins are a digital asset and payment system supposedly invented by Australian computer scientist and businessman Craig Steven Wright, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The system permits peer-to-peer transactions without an intermediary, and bitcoins are frequently referred to as the first cryptocurrency. Bitcoins have attracted the attention of law enforcement, media, financial regulators, legislative bodies, and media. Wright intends to build a large patent portfolio around digital currency, having already filed 50 patents in the UK.

During the EY auction, Bidders claimed 24,518 units of the digital currency. According to EY transaction partner Adam Nikitin, the auction was extremely successful, and it was a competitive process that demonstrated an appetite for digital assets, such as bitcoins. Over the past month, the value of bitcoins has increased significantly; something that bidders were likely quite aware of. Additionally, the Australian government has reiterated its intentions of removing  the double-tax treatment for digital currencies.

The professional service firm refrained from disclosing the price paid by bidders. Likewise, the didn’t disclose the number of bidders involved or sellers. However, Nikitin’s previously indicated that there are interested parties would predominantly be from Europe and North America. Also, Fairfax Media and BBC reported that 24,500 bitcoins were seized from convicted Victorian drug dealer Richard Pollard in 2014. Pollard’s bitcoins had been acquired by selling drugs on the Silk Road website, leading to a restraining order to be forfeited to the Victorian Department of Justice.

The bitcoin action was the first of its kind on Australian soil, and it’s the second bitcoin auction, preceded only by the US Marshals auctioned Silk Road bitcoins in June 2014. The action beckoned 45 bidders who submitted 63 bids during the 12-hour auction. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole after being convicted of drugs and conspiracy counts.

The successful sale of the bitcoins certainly speaks to a growing interest in technology. In fact, bitcoin transactions have quadrupled since 2012.



Ian Whittock is the Managing Director of Evoque Claims and Appraisals, Evoque Auctions and Identidot Coding. Please visit Crunchbase, Quora, and Identidot to learn more.