Who Owns The Most Bitcoin?

Bitcoin was created in 2009 and has established itself as a behemoth of the crypto space between then and now. Today, Bitcoin is the world’s largest and most popular cryptocurrency and, at its peak, had a market capitalization of over $1 trillion. As Bitcoin’s mainstream exposure continued to grow, a steady stream of individual and institutional investors began purchasing the cryptocurrency as it solidified itself as a store of value and hedge against inflation.  So, who owns the most bitcoin?

Despite Bitcoin’s volatility, Bitcoin is the most valuable cryptocurrency in the market, which has seen major institutions purchase Bitcoin. While the recent market downturn may have dampened the spirits of new investors, many are still holding on to their BTC. This list includes individual investors, Institutions, governments, and even government agencies. In this article, we will take a look at the most prominent Bitcoin HODLers in 2022. 

Who Owns The Most Bitcoin?

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by the pseudo-anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. When creating the cryptocurrency, Nakamoto introduced a hard cap of 21 million on the amount of BTC that could be created. Additionally, newer Bitcoins are mined at an increasingly slowing rate thanks to the process of halving, which sees miner rewards halve every four years or 210,000 blocks. The current circulating supply is 19.1 million BTC, although this changes rapidly. 

Now, out of this 19.1 million BTC, it is believed that around 4 million BTC have been lost. The entity that is widely believed to hold the most BTC is Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto’s wallets are estimated to hold an estimated 1.1 million BTC, although more conservative estimates put that figure at around 750,000 BTC. There have been significant efforts to determine precisely how much BTC is actually owned by Nakamoto since they mined a considerable number of blocks after the genesis block. 

Because Nakamoto used several different addresses and disappeared in 2010, it is unclear how many blocks were mined by them before other early adopters jumped into the fray. So, while the exact number of BTC owned by Nakamoto isn’t clear, those of other individuals, organizations, countries, and publicly traded companies are very much in the public domain. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the biggest HODLers of Bitcoin as of 2022. 

Individual BTC Holders 

Let’s look at individuals that own the most Bitcoin.

The Winklevoss Twins 

After moving on from Facebook, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss turned their attention toward crypto, particularly Bitcoin. The brothers have invested in several crypto-related businesses through their VC firm Winklevoss Capital and reportedly own 70,000 BTC, becoming the first Bitcoin billionaires. 

Tim Draper 

Tim Draper is known for early investments in several companies, such as Tesla and Skype. However, one early investment that seems to slip under the radar is Draper’s investment in Bitcoin. Draper made his first Bitcoin purchase in 2012 and then bought a further 29,656 BTC two years later through an auction held by the US Marshals. It is estimated that Draper still owns over 29,000 BTC. 

Michael Saylor 

Michael Saylor is a Bitcoin maximalist known for being the CEO of MicroStrategy, one of the most prominent public companies holding Bitcoin. Apart from his Bitcoin holdings through MicroStrategy, Saylor personally owns at least 17,732 BTC, revealing his personal holdings in an interview conducted in November 2021.

Several other individuals own a large quantity of BTC. However, they have chosen to remain anonymous. For example, this chart shows six individuals with over 49,000 BTC in their wallets.

Top Companies Holding Bitcoin

Let’s look at some of the top public and private companies holding large amounts of Bitcoin.

Public Companies

Over 20 companies currently hold Bitcoin on their balance sheets. Let’s look at the most prominent.

MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy, under CEO Michael Saylor, is a prolific buyer of Bitcoin. The company acquired its first Bitcoin in 2020, purchasing $350 million worth of Bitcoin, and continued to purchase more over the year, eventually acquiring 70,000 BTC, valued at around $1.1 billion. The company continued to add more BTC to its books, increasing its holdings to around $3.5 billion by the end of 2021. According to Bitcoin Treasuries, MicroStrategy currently owns 130,000 BTC. Additionally, Morgan Stanley has purchased 10.9% of MicroStrategy as it looks to invest in Bitcoin.

Tesla

Tesla’s SEC filing revealed that it held over 52,902 BTC on its books. The company stated that its purchase reflected Tesla’s intention to diversify its cash on hand, maximize its returns, and act as an emergency fund in case of any liquidity issue. The person advising Musk about Tesla’s Bitcoin purchase was MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor. Tesla had also announced that it would begin accepting payments in Bitcoin before abruptly backtracking on the idea, citing Bitcoin’s environmental impact. However, Tesla has not ruled out accepting Bitcoin sometime in the near future. In July 2022, Tesla sold nearly 75% of its Bitcoin holdings to ease liquidity concerns. Currently, the company owns 9,720 BTC.

Block

Block (formerly Square), a financial payments company, has also invested considerably in Bitcoin. The company purchased $50 million worth of Bitcoin in October 2020 and then revealed in its Q4 2020 earnings statement that it had purchased an additional $170 million worth of BTC. Block’s considerable interest in Bitcoin should come as no surprise given founder Jack Dorsey’s bullishness towards BTC. Block’s Cash App, which enables users to engage in direct money transfers, also announced that it would allow users to purchase and sell Bitcoin. As of November 2022, Block owns 8027 BTC.

Private Companies

Block.one

Founded by Brenden Blumer and Dan Larimer, Block.one is a private blockchain company best known for developing the EOS protocol. The protocol was released in 2018 to facilitate efficient and scalable decentralized applications. Block.one is the biggest private holder of Bitcoin and currently holds a staggering 164,000 BTC, representing 0.781% of the total supply.

The Tezos Foundation

The Tezos Foundation holds a significant amount of Bitcoin in its portfolio. The foundation organized one of the most successful ICOs to date and received 66,000 BTC within two weeks of the ICO. However, the foundation has since sold some of its Bitcoin holdings. In its 2020 biannual report, the foundation revealed that it held 39,700 BTC. This figure has dropped further, with the foundation 24,808 BTC as of November 2022.

Bitcoin Fund Holdings

The emergence of cryptocurrency investment funds has allowed investors to gain exposure to crypto assets without actually owning the asset. As a result, cryptocurrency investment funds add more BTC to their holdings based on investor inflows, divesting their holdings as and when investors withdraw. Currently, the largest fund holding Bitcoin is the Grayscale Bitcoin trust which holds around 635,236 BTC. This amounts to around 3% of Bitcoin’s circulating supply.

Countries And Governments

Some of the most notable countries that have accumulated significant Bitcoin holdings include The United States of America, Ukraine, and El Salvador,

The US

The United States of America has a colossal tranche of Bitcoin in its possession, accumulated in 3 different seizures conducted over two years. The first major seizure came to light in November 2020, when the Department of Justice revealed it had seized 69,370 BTC, worth over $1 billion. In February 2022, US law enforcement officials disclosed that they had seized over 94,000 BTC from two individuals. The most recent seizure was that of the Silk Road thief. All three seizures added up to 214,682 BTC.

Ukraine

Regarding countries holding BTC, Ukraine comes second only to the United States. While the war in the region has crippled the country, donations, specifically those made using Bitcoin, have skyrocketed. As a result of multiple contributions, Ukraine currently holds 46,351 BTC.

El Salvador

El Salvador, a tiny country in Central America, has bet its entire economy on Bitcoin. The country’s president, Nayib Bukele, is a Bitcoin maximalist and highly bullish on the prospects of the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The country passed the “Bitcoin Law” in 2021, giving BTC legal tender status within El Salvador’s borders. Bukele has regularly bought the dip, and the country currently holds 2381 BTC. Bukele also recently announced that El Salvador will be buying 1 BTC per day. 

Who Owns The Most Bitcoin – In Closing

Despite the recent bear market and the uncertainty prevailing in the crypto space, investors and institutions are still bullish about Bitcoin in the long run. Do you want to learn more about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Head over to CoinSmart.