Yesterday a record transaction took place on the Bitcoin blockchain from a wallet that has been inactive since 2015 and linked to Silk Road.
Silk Road is the legendary marketplace on the dark web closed in 2014, founded by Ross Ulbricht, and associated with several trials for the sale of illicit goods.
The wallet has continued to receive payments in bitcoin over time but has not been trading since 2015. Yesterday it sent nearly 70,000 BTC to another address, SegWit type. This might also be a technical transfer from a legacy wallet to a SegWit one.
At the time of the transaction, the BTC sent were worth nearly $1 billion, making this one of the largest transactions ever on the Bitcoin blockchain in terms of volume in US dollars.
Ross Ulbricht is currently in jail, having been given a double life sentence for his involvement in the creation and operation of Silk Road, so he is unlikely to be the author of this transaction.
In prison, he has access to the Internet, but he hardly has access to that wallet.
The FBI, at the time of the shutdown, seized approximately 174,000 BTC from Ulbricht, later sold at an auction by the US government. These did not include those stored on the wallet from which yesterday’s billion-dollar transaction originated.
In fact, according to some estimates, Silk Road’s bitcoin earnings could have been about 614,000 BTC, which means that 440,000 BTC would not have been seized. Some of these were probably already sold when the marketplace was active, from unknown addresses, but others may still be in the hands of some people involved in the management of the proceeds.
The Bitcoin transaction of Silk Road
The address from which the billion-dollar transaction originated was the fourth largest in the world in terms of the number of BTC held, and now the SegWit address is in the same position, as virtually all the BTC stored in the old address were sent to this one.
In addition, in various forums frequented by hackers, an encrypted file that was said to contain the cryptographic keys to the old address has circulated over the past year.
Theoretically, if that was the case, someone could have cracked that file, accessed that wallet, and seized the BTC by sending them to an address of their own.
Now it remains to be seen what happens to the BTC stored in the new SegWit address, and whether they will be used, sent or sold.