U.S. Marshals Will Auction Silk Road Founder's Bitcoins

By McCarton Ackerman 10/09/15

Just when you thought you've heard the last about Ross Ulbricht...

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The $11 million bitcoin fortune of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is now set to go to the highest border.

U.S. Marshals will facilitate the auction of 44,331.55308401 bitcoins, which is scheduled to take place between Oct. 19 and Nov. 2. The bitcoins were seized by authorities in November 2013 and Ulbricht agreed to surrender them as part of his sentencing. Authorities recovered 144,000 bitcoins in total from Ulbricht's computer with a value of $17.2 million.

Anyone bidding for them is being asked to lodge a deposit of $100,000 beforehand. Each individual bitcoin was worth about $1,000 in late 2013, but has since dropped to about $250 each. The online form of currency was used to help the online dark web market generate over $214 million in drug sales.

Ulbricht, 32, was sentenced last May to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was hoping for the minimum sentence of 20 years because he had no prior criminal record beforehand.

"A life sentence is more similar in nature to a death sentence. Both condemn you to die in prison, a life sentence just takes longer,” he wrote. “I know you must take away my middle years, but please leave me my old age. Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker.”

But judge Katharine B. Forrest refused to show mercy. She slammed him for keeping a journal that documented his crimes and said that "what you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric." She said she hoped the sentence served as a warning for others hoping to conduct similar operations.

Silk Road 2 and Silk Road 3 have found their way onto the dark web since Ulbricht's arrest, but neither have matched the popularity or sales of their predecessor.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.