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Photograph by Karen Bleier — AFP/Getty Images

Ka-ching! U.S. government auctioning off stash of confiscated bitcoins

Jun 13, 2014

The U.S. government is auctioning off a stash of bitcoins acquired in its bust of illicit online retailer Silk Road.

A partial sale of 29,656 bitcoins will be offered in an open auction this month, the U.S. Marshall Service said in a statement. About 144,341 bitcoins, or a total of almost $87 million at current bitcoin prices, were handed off by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which seized the digital currency in October after tracking down the hidden site and its owner, Ross William Ulbricht.

During the raid, FBI agents arrested Ulbricht and charged him with drug trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. Ulbricht's bitcoin cache, located on his personal computer hardware, is not part of the upcoming auction.

Bitcoin prices are up 3.5% to $602.03 as of 10:00 a.m. ET Friday, according to the Coindesk bitcoin index.

Over the two and a half years that Silk Road operated, the site brought in sales of about 9.5 million bitcoin, or $5.7 billion at today's value, according to a FBI estimate.

Registration for the auction opens on Monday and runs through noon ET on June 23. Each applicant must provide the bidder registration form, government-issued identification and a $200,000 deposit to be eligible.

The U.S. Marshall Service will notify winning bidders by 5 p.m. ET on June 30th.

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