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Top 10 Biggest Holders of Bitcoin and the Billions They are Worth

Last Updated May 8, 2024 9:57 AM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated May 8, 2024 9:57 AM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn
Key Takeaways
  • Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is the first and remains the most successful blockchain-based cryptocurrency globally.
  • The creator of Bitcoin under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto is thought to be the largest Bitcoin holder. 
  • Institutional investors and governments are just a few examples of other well-known Bitcoin whales.

As of May 8, 2024, Bitcoin (BTC) had a market capitalization  of $1,226 trillion, making it the largest cryptocurrency. But the biggest Bitcoin holders and how much are they worth is worth looking at. 

While cryptocurrency is celebrated for its decentralization, there are still “whales” – individuals or organizations that hold significant amounts of digital currency – in this vast ocean. These major players can have a substantial impact on the market.

Who Controls the Bitcoin Market? Unmasking the Biggest BTC Holders

There is a cap on total supply of Bitcoin (BTC). On May 8 2024, there were around 19.7 million BTC in circulation and a maximum supply of 21 million BTC. This limited availability is a key reason many investors are keen to know who holds large amounts of Bitcoin. This is because these owners can significantly influence the market dynamics.

BTC supply
Credit: Techopedia

The pseudonymous nature of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) lets people create wallets without providing any personal identification. Despite the transparency of blockchain technology, which enables anyone to view wallet balances and transaction histories, it’s extremely challenging to determine the actual owners of these wallets. Bitcoin addresses consist of complex strings of letters and numbers, devoid of any personal identifiers like names or birth dates, obscuring the identity of the wallet holders.

Further complicating the identification of top Bitcoin holders is the dynamic nature of their holdings. Companies, countries, and large investors frequently adjust their BTC positions in response to shifting market conditions, regulatory changes, and other external factors. As a result, the roster of top Bitcoin holders is constantly in flux, reflecting the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency ownership.

Individuals With the Largest Bitcoin Holdings (in no particular order):

  • Winklevoss twins (70,000 BTC)

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, also known as the Winklevoss twins, co-founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange in 2014. Recent developments reveal the exchange Gemini has pledged to return customer funds lost from its Gemini Earn platform. While the settlement has yet to receive approval, Gemini has agreed to contribute $40 million to the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of Genesis and will also pay a $37 million fine to the United States Department of Financial Services (DFS). This is part of a broader obligation by Gemini to make good on a total of $1.1 billion. The DFS has indicated that, should Gemini fail to meet this financial commitment, additional measures will be taken to ensure compliance.

Tyler and Cameron invested their $65 million settlement from a lawsuit against Facebook into cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin. Their early and significant investment in Bitcoin helped catapult them to prominence in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors. In 2015, they further solidified their status as industry pioneers by co-founding the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.

Today, the Winklevoss Twins are estimated to hold approximately 70,000 BTC.

  • Michael Saylor  (over 17,700 BTC)

Michael Saylor is the founder of business analytics software company MicroStrategy. He served as its CEO until early August 2022, when he became its chairman. Saylor, one of the most well-known Internet bubble executives, became a multibillionaire in the late 1990s as a result of his ownership of MicroStrategy. The SEC then filed accounting allegations against Saylor’s company, and fined it $11 million. The company’s stock value crashed as a result and Saylor’s net worth decreased to around $4 billion.

Saylor is a huge Bitcoin advocate. He called it “a bank in cyberspace, run by incorruptible software, offering a global, affordable, simple, & secure savings account to billions of people that don’t have the option or desire to run their own hedge fund”. Recently, he has become one of the few Bitcoin maximalists to publicly embrace Ordinals. Both Saylor and MicroStrategy are huge Bitcoin investors.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto (~1.1 million BTC)

Satoshi Nakamoto is the name of the person or organization who was credited with creating Bitcoin. The whole creator’s history is obscured by mystery as his identity has never been made public. However, information on a profile with The P2P Foundation suggests that they turned 49 on April 5.

Before the first Bitcoin was mined, Satoshi Nakamoto posted a white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”  to a cryptography mailing group. The article, published on October 31, 2008, described a decentralized peer-to-peer protocol that was secure in terms of cryptography. Satoshi Nakamoto called Bitcoin a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash” that “would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution or any intermediary.” He is said to be the largest individual Bitcoin holder and was purportedly the first miner of the currency.

Reports suggest Nakamoto mined approximately 54,316 blocks, receiving 50 BTC for each block as a reward before the first halving event.

What’s particularly intriguing is that the vast stash of Bitcoins mined by Nakamoto has remained unspent, lying dormant across roughly 22,000 different wallet addresses. This hoard of inactive Bitcoin represents a significant portion of the cryptocurrency’s supply. If any of these coins were move, it could potentially cause dramatic fluctuations in Bitcoin’s market value. It could also have a profound impact on the broader cryptocurrency landscape, sending ripples across the global financial ecosystem.

  • Tim Draper (over 29,500 BTC)

American venture capitalist, Timothy Cook Draper, is known as a huge Bitcoin proponent. His most well-known investments are in FinTech firms like Twitter, DocuSign, Coinbase, Robinhood, Tesla, Hotmail and Skype. He paid $18.7 million, or approximately $632 per coin, in 2014 to purchase 29,656 BTC that US Marshals had seized from the shuttered Silk Road black market. Draper supports decentralization and is against Government control.

Publicly Traded Companies With the Largest Bitcoin Holdings (in no particular order):

  • Tesla (TSLA) (10,500 BTC)

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla holds the fourth-largest Bitcoin reserve among companies, valued at $546.7 million. In 2021, the company bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin. This investment was intended not only to enhance Tesla’s bottom line but also to increase liquidity and provide customers with the option to purchase products using the cryptocurrency.

However, the following year presented challenges as Tesla sold a significant portion of its Bitcoin holdings, incurring a steep loss. This sale was part of a broader trend where businesses reassessed their cryptocurrency holdings amid fluctuating market conditions.

  • MicroStrategy (MSTR) (214,400 BTC)

In August 2020, MicroStrategy  purchased its first batch of Bitcoin, citing concerns that the epidemic, global financial stimulus programs, and political unpredictability would cause the dollar to depreciate. In a statement , CEO Michael Saylor said: “This investment reflects our belief that Bitcoin, as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, is a dependable store of value and an attractive investment asset with more long-term appreciation potential than holding cash.”

Today, the company is the world’s largest corporate holder of Bitcoin, owning 214,400 BTC as of May 1, 2024. The company has disclosed that the average purchase price of these Bitcoins was $35,158. This represented a total investment of $7.538 billion.

Headquartered in Virginia, MicroStrategy has significantly expanded its holdings, now owning around ten times more than the next largest corporate Bitcoin owner. This investment has paid off, as MicroStrategy’s shares surged over 350% in 2023.

  • Hut 8 Mining Corp (HUT) (9,102 BTC)

An infrastructure firm for mining digital assets, Hut 8 Mining Corp (HUT) is based in Canada. The business runs cloud and colocation data center facilities and caters to business clients looking for computing services. Hut 8 Mining announced in February 2023 that it would join forces with US Bitcoin  to become Hut 8 Corp., also known as “New Hut.” Following the acquisition, six facilities totaling about 825 megawatts will be available to thea company for use in crypto mining and other operations.

As of March 31, Hut 8 held a significant position in the industry, ranking second among listed miners with 9,102 Bitcoins in reserve. This considerable reserve of Bitcoin not only provides Hut 8 with a substantial liquidity cushion but also positions it to benefit from potential price increases in the cryptocurrency market. The value of its cryptocurrency holdings is approximately $592 million, representing about 82% of its market capitalization.

  • Galaxy Digital (8,100 BTC)

Galaxy Digital Holdings is a prominent asset management company that focuses on digital assets and blockchain technology. Founded in 2018 by Michael Novogratz, a former hedge fund manager and an early Bitcoin enthusiast, the company has become a key player in the cryptocurrency space. Novogratz’s initial foray into Bitcoin began in 2013 when he purchased the cryptocurrency at around $100 each.

Galaxy Digital acquired a large-scale Bitcoin mining operation named Helios from Argo Blockchain in December 2022 for approximately $65 million.

As of April 30, 2023, Galaxy Digital reported having $2.5 billion in assets under management. From their fiscal year 2022 financial statements, it is estimated that the company holds approximately 8,100 Bitcoins. This substantial holding not only reflects the company’s robust involvement in the crypto market but also its significant role in shaping the landscape of digital asset management.

  • Marathon Digital Holdings (17,631 BTC)

Marathon Digital Holdings, a prominent player in the Bitcoin mining industry since its inception in 2010, is bases in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The company is one of the leading Bitcoin miners globally, with a current installed hash rate of 29.9 EH/S as of April 30, 2024. This hash rate is a measure of the computational power used to mine and process transactions in Bitcoin.

Historically, the company has prioritized retaining a significant portion of the Bitcoin it mines. However, during September and October of 2023, Marathon made a decision to sell about 1,700 BTC. This sale was aimed at covering direct operational costs. The company also indicated plans to continue selling a portion of their mined Bitcoin for operational and general corporate purposes. Despite these sales, Marathon’s overall strategy remains focused on holding its Bitcoin, selling only as necessary to fund reinvestment.

As of the end of April 2024, Marathon Digital Holdings, Inc. reported holding a total of 17,631 BTC.

  • Coinbase (947,755 BTC)

Blockchain intelligence platform Arkham recently revealed that the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase held nearly 1 million Bitcoin (BTC) in its wallets, which amounts to almost 5% of all existing Bitcoin. Specifically, Coinbase possesses a total of 947,755 BTC. With Bitcoin currently priced at $62,313, the value of these holdings exceeds $25 billion.

This substantial sum represents a significant portion of Bitcoin’s circulating supply, which stands at about 19,493,537 BTC. Coinbase’s extensive holdings highlight its major role in the cryptocurrency market.

Private Companies  With the Largest Bitcoin Holdings (in no particular order):

  • Block Inc (8,027 BTC)

Block Inc is a software company that focuses on high-performance blockchain solutions. Following its launch in May 2017, its flagship project, EOSIO, an open-source blockchain technology created to help secure data transfer and high-performance decentralized apps, has gained acclaim as the first effective blockchain platform for developers.

In its earnings report for the first quarter of 2024, Block Inc, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, significantly outperformed expectations. Despite facing allegations of US law violations, the company not only maintained stability but also achieved considerable growth in gross profit and net income.

The company reported a gross profit of $2.09 billion, a 22% increase from the $1.71 billion reported in the first quarter of 2023.

Block’s net income soared to $472 million, a remarkable rise compared to $98.3 million in the previous year. Revenue for the quarter was $5.96 billion with adjusted earnings per share at $0.85. Reflecting optimism about its financial health and future prospects, Block raised its adjusted EBITDA forecast for the second quarter to $690 million from $670 million.

As part of its investment strategy, Block holds 8,027 BTC.

  • The Tezos Foundation (~30,228 BTC)

The Tezos Foundation, renowned for organizing one of the most successful initial coin offerings (ICOs) in history, initially amassed 66,000 BTC within just two weeks of its ICO launch.

However, over the years, the Tezos Foundation has reduced its Bitcoin holdings. According to its 2020 biannual report, the foundation’s holdings had decreased to 39,700 BTC. This trend of selling continued, and by September 2023 , the foundation reported holding around 30,000 BTC. This reduction in Bitcoin assets reflects strategic adjustments in the foundation’s portfolio management, possibly influenced by market conditions, operational funding needs, or shifts in investment strategy. The changes in Bitcoin holdings highlight the dynamic nature of asset management within the foundation as it navigates the volatile cryptocurrency market.

  • Tether International Limited (75,354 BTC)

Tether International Limited, the entity behind the USDT stablecoin, has actively incorporated Bitcoin into its reserve strategy. As of April 1, 2024, the company is estimated to hold approximately 75,354 Bitcoins, based on its public announcements.

In its assurance report for the first quarter of 2023, Tether announced its decision to hold Bitcoin as a reserve currency, marking a significant shift in its reserve management strategy.

Tether followed this up by buying an additional 1,529 BTC for $45.4 million in the second quarter of 2023.

The company has also publicly committed to regularly allocating up to 15% of its net realized operating profits towards purchasing Bitcoin.

Countries With the Largest Bitcoin Holdings (in no particular order):

  • Ukraine (46,351 BTC)

The Ukrainian government currently holds 46,351 BTC, a substantial amount of cryptocurrency, largely due to its efforts in confiscating illegal assets. This includes a significant seizure of $1.5 million worth of crypto assets from Yury Shchigol, a former government official. Such actions indicate Ukraine’s active engagement in utilizing cryptocurrency seizures as part of its broader strategy to combat corruption and illegal activities within the country.

These holdings not only reflect the government’s commitment to enforcing the law but also highlight the growing importance of digital assets in global financial and legal systems. By converting illicit gains into state-held assets, Ukraine is leveraging these technologies to enhance its national financial resources, potentially using them for various state needs or reinvestments into further law enforcement capabilities.

  • The United States (215,000 BTC)

According to data from Bitcoin Treasuries , the United States has amassed a substantial Bitcoin reserve of approximately 215,000 BTC, valued at $8.3 billion. A significant portion of this Bitcoin accumulation has occurred through law enforcement seizures, primarily since 2020. This trend highlights the growing role of cryptocurrency in legal and regulatory frameworks, as the US increasingly enforces asset confiscation in cases involving illicit activities.

The rise in US Bitcoin assets reflects a broader strategy of using seized digital assets. This approach not only disrupts the financial networks of criminal enterprises but also potentially benefits public coffers if these assets rise in value. 

  • China (190,000 BTC)

China currently holds approximately 190,000 BTC, a substantial amount of Bitcoin primarily acquired through the seizure of funds from the PlusToken Ponzi scheme. This fraudulent scheme resulted in significant financial losses for many, and the subsequent seizure of these assets by Chinese authorities transferred a large quantity of Bitcoin into government holdings.

The Chinese government’s Bitcoin holdings is worth about $12.621 billion. This considerable amount reflects not only the scale of the initial fraud but also China’s capacity to recuperate and secure assets through its legal and regulatory efforts.

  • El Salvador (5,690 BTC)

El Salvador holds 5,690 BTC in its treasury. The country began acquiring BTC in September 2021. By February 2024, its Bitcoin holdings surpassed a value of $397 million, representing a profit of over 40%. President Nayib Bukele noted that a significant contributor to the country’s Bitcoin accumulation was a government initiative offering accelerated citizenship to immigrants who contribute a BTC “donation” to the national treasury.

  • The United Kingdom (61,000 BTC)

The UK government is a significant holder of Bitcoin, currently possessing about 61,000 BTC. These assets, valued at approximately $4 billion, were confiscated from individuals Jian Wen and Zhimin Qian.

Such a significant amount of Bitcoin reflects the UK’s effectiveness in tracking and seizing illicit digital assets. It also highlights the country’s prominent position in the global cryptocurrency market. This is not just in terms of regulatory actions but also in fostering a robust environment for cryptocurrency trading and investment.

  • Germany (50,000 BTC)

The German government ranks fourth globally in terms of Bitcoin holdings, with an accumulation of 50,000 BTC. These tokens, worth around $2.17 billion, were seized  by the German police in 2018, marking it as the largest cryptocurrency seizure to date. The operation targeted a large-scale fraud involving two men, aged 40 and 37, who were implicated in running a piracy website until the end of 2013.

Who Is the Biggest Bitcoin Holder?

Satoshi Nakamoto – 1 million BTC

By being the first miner to produce blocks of transactions, Satoshi Nakamoto not only invented but also launched Bitcoin. On January 3rd 2009, Satoshi is thought to have mined over 22,000 blocks and earned a total of over one million Bitcoin in block rewards. As a result, Satoshi is thought to be the owner of the largest Bitcoin cache . This currently stands at more than 1 million BTC, or almost $23 billion, making him one of the biggest Bitcoin holders. This Bitcoin is dispersed among 22,000 addresses rather than being kept in a single address. With the exception of a few test transactions, none of it was ever used. Since his departure from the project in 2010, Satoshi has gone silent.

However, a year ago, over 100 BTC were moved  from two dormant Bitcoin wallets from Satoshi era. Because the account had previously been dormant for more than ten years, it has stirred up controversy in the cryptocurrency world. Both addresses have earned 50 BTC for mining blocks back in June 2010. For several years, there was essentially no activity. There were two microtransactions that entered the wallet in the previous six months for the modest amount of 0.00000547 BTC. Due to the combination of two mining address outputs, the moved coins belonged to the same owner, who just might be Satoshi himself. 

Conclusion

The number of people generating billions off the new asset class surged as cryptocurrency gained popularity. Cryptocurrency millionaires are a diverse group; some have made their billions by offering goods and services to the developing ecosystem, while others have done so by profiting from the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. It should be noted that the BTC is distributed more evenly than other cryptocurrencies. 

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research , the Bitcoin ecosystem “is still dominated by large and concentrated players, be they large miners, bitcoin holders, or exchanges”. The majority of the profits from increased adoption are expected to fall disproportionately to a small number of players because of bitcoin’s intrinsic concentration, which makes it prone to systemic risk. Keep in mind that there is a risk of loss in every trade. Before trading, always do your own research.