Since he’s been running from the U.S. government, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he was forced to become an early investor in bitcoin—resulting in returns of over 50,000%.
He took to Twitter to gloat.
“My deepest thanks to the U.S. government, Senator McCain, and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCad, Paypal, AmEx, Moneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin—with > 50,000% returns.”
Many banking institutions, including Paypal and Bank of America, refused to process transactions for Wikileaks starting in 2010, when the organization leaked documents that revealed friendly fire and civilian casualties at the hand of U.S. forces during the war in Afghanistan.
After being locked out from the traditional banking institution, Wikileaks said its revenue slid by 95% between late 2010 and mid-2011, costing the organization “tens of millions of pounds in lost donations.” Wikileaks claimed that it received the equivalent of over 800,000 euros (or $944,000 based on today’s exchange rate) in December 2010 alone. That slid to nearly $0 by January 2011.
Assuming Wikileaks invested in bitcoin and did indeed receive over 50,000% returns, Assange would have received about $500 for each dollar invested. So had he put that entire 800,000 euros into the cryptocurrency, it would be the equivalent of about 400 million euros, or $472 million, today.
It’s unclear when exactly Wikileaks began its bitcoin investments, though it would have likely been in early 2011, when the coin hit parity with the U.S. dollar before rapidly accelerating in price. That was just a year after the first bitcoin exchanges appeared.
In recent months, the cryptocurrency has picked up steam, with bitcoin prices surging to about $5,700 thanks to growing optimism in the coin’s scalability. Still, it is no easy investment, with bitcoin prices capable of swinging hundreds of dollars over the course of a few hours.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the return Assange would have received for each dollar he invested in bitcoin. He would have received $500 for each dollar invested, resulting in a return of 400 million euros, or $472 million, from an initial investment of 800,000 euro. He would not have received $50,000 for each dollar invested, resulting in a return of 3.9 billion euro from an 800,000 euro initial investment.