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Who Owns the Most Bitcoin in 2023?

  • All bitcoin is controlled by private keys. The owner of a private key owns the bitcoin controlled by that key
  • Ownership of bitcoin, even in large quantities, does not confer any control over the Bitcoin network
  • The four wealthiest bitcoin addresses collectively own more than 663,306 BTC
  • Microstrategy owns more bitcoin than any other publicly traded company

Who Owns Bitcoin?

Satoshi Nakamoto is the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, but he doesn’t own the Bitcoin project, nobody does.

Bitcoin is software ran by a decentralized network, which means no single party is in control of the set of rules in the software. These rules must be agreed upon by the network participants in order for them to transact.

Who Owns The Most Bitcoin in 2023?

Satoshi Nakamoto not only invented, but also kickstarted Bitcoin, by being the first miner to create blocks of transactions. It is estimated that Satoshi mined more than 22,000 blocks starting from January 3rd 2009, and received more than one million bitcoin in cumulative block rewards for his work. As a result, Satoshi is estimated to hold the largest bitcoin cache, more than 1 million BTC, valued at approximately $23 billion today. This bitcoin is not stored in one address, but spread across those roughly 22,000 addresses. None of it was ever spent besides a few test transactions. Satoshi left the project in 2010 and hasn’t been heard from since.

An overview of entities with over $1 billion in bitcoin, across individuals, exchanges, governments, and companies

Individual Bitcoin Whales

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss: Following their 2008 settlement with Mark Zuckerberg for $65 million worth of Facebook shares and cash, the pair started an angel investment company. A few years later they would announce they had bought approximately $11 million worth of bitcoin at an average cost basis of $10 per coin. It’s estimated that the Winklevoss twins own ~70,000 BTC.

Tim Draper: The VC titan has been interested in Bitcoin for a while; so much so that he made one initial purchase of 40,000 BTC at the Mt Gox exchange. Unfortunately, all 40,000 coins were lost in the hack and subsequent bankruptcy. However, in 2014, Mr. Draper purchased 29,656 BTC for $18.7 million at a cost basis of approximately $632 per coin.

Michael Saylor: The founder and chairman of Microstrategy revealed in an October 2020 tweet that he personally held 17,732 BTC. It is reasonable to assume that he has since acquired more—being such a public Bitcoin Bull—but this is the only mention of his personal stash.

Bitcoin Wealth Distribution

Over time, bitcoin ownership has become distributed in strata based on total bitcoin wealth. These categories are based on the total number of bitcoin located at an address.

Learn more about what Bitcoin addresses are and how they're used.

The amount of bitcoin that each stratum of addresses owns in relation to the entire bitcoin supply fluctuates over time. Today, only four bitcoin addresses contain 100,000 - 1,000,000 BTC for a total of 663,306 BTC. The next 112 largest owners, who range from 10,000 - 100,000 BTC, own a total of 2,378,961 BTC. These wealthiest 112 addresses account for 12.32% of the total supply. Bitcoin addresses with 10,000 or more bitcoin are sometimes referred to as whales.

The distribution of bitcoin holdings across addresses by BitInfocharts

Learn more about the top 100 richest bitcoin addresses.

Bitcoin Billionaires

Not including Satoshi, four bitcoin addresses contain more than 100,000 bitcoin each. The four addresses with the most bitcoin belong to Binance, Bitfinex, and another address, whose identity is unknown. These four addresses collectively own more than 663,000 bitcoin. The exchange addresses represent the holdings of many individual investors who are not holding their own keys.

Info: Binance's cold storage wallet address, 34xp4vRoCGJym3xR7yCVPFHoCNxv4Twseo, holds ​​248,597 BTC.
Binance owns the largest cold storage wallet address, 34xp4vRoCGJym3xR7yCVPFHoCNxv4Twseo, which holds ​​248,597 BTC.

Companies Holding the Most Bitcoin

Companies can use corporate savings, called a treasury, to buy bitcoin. The benefit of this strategy, employed by companies such as Microstrategy, Tesla, and Galaxy Digital Holdings, is to protect their savings against inflation and negative-yield bonds.

Large corporations who can issue corporate bonds with low interest rates also have the opportunity to create cheap debt and use the funds to purchase bitcoin. In theory, as the dollar’s value decreases with inflation and bitcoin continues to store value, paying off fiat debt will require fewer bitcoin. This strategy is similar to buying on margin or using leverage.

Public Companies

Collectively, public companies own more than 253,565 BTC, equal to 1.2% of the total supply. The ten public companies holding the most bitcoin on their balance sheet hold over 238,000 BTC total.

Microstrategy, led by Michael Saylor, holds more bitcoin than any other public company. Microstrategy has acquired more than 152,000 BTC, which represents roughly 0.725% of the total supply. Microstrategy has employed a unique strategy in which they raise debt capital and use it to purchase bitcoin. The theory behind this strategy is that the company can repay the fiat debt by selling less bitcoin in the future. Other companies are beginning to mimic this strategy.

Robinhood Markets, a financial services company offering stock, ETF, cryptocurrency trading has in recent months been on a bitcoin-accumulation strategy. According to Arkham Intelligence, Robinhood controls 118,300 BTC.

Marathon Digital Holdings, the Bitcoin Mining mega company, owns 11,466 BTC. Following many years of accumulation, the firm sold 766 BTC in March of 2023.

The third-largest bitcoin holding by a public company is Tesla, Inc. which holds 9,720 BTC. The auto manufacturer has sold over 33,000 BTC since their initial purchase in February 2021.

Hut 8 Mining Corp. and Block Inc. round out public companies in the top five Bitcoin holdings—according to Bitcoin Treasuries dot net. The companies hold over 8,000 BTC, respectively.

Private Companies

Private companies own roughly 316,067 BTC, about 1.5% of the total supply. Mt. Gox, the formerly hacked exchange, is the largest private holder of bitcoin that is yet to be distributed to creditors. It holds a total of 141,686 bitcoin, or 0.7% of total supply.

Block.one, a Chinese corporation, is the second largest private owner of bitcoin. Block.one reportedly owns 140,000 BTC, representing 0.7% of the total supply.

Stone Ridge Holdings Group is an American private company that owns approximately 10,000 BTC.

Tether Holdings LTD, the company behind the USDT stablecoin, announced in its Q1 2023 attestation of reserves that the firm controlled roughly 52,670 BTC—valued at $1.5 billion at the time of the announcement.

Learn more about investing bitcoin in an LLC.

Indirect Bitcoin Exposure

Indirect bitcoin exposure is one investment method for investors seeking to gain exposure to the bitcoin price without directly purchasing bitcoin. Some investors also believe they can reduce risk by investing in an extensive portfolio with many bitcoin-related assets. A Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) may contain equities and other bitcoin-related assets that result in a more diversified portfolio. Bitcoin ETFs track the price of bitcoin, albeit imperfectly. Some proposed ETFs are based on bitcoin futures and other derivative products.

ETFs and other funds own a combined 819,125 BTC, 3.9% of the total bitcoin supply. The largest holder in this category is Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which owns 643,572 BTC, or nearly 3.2% of the total supply.

The second largest ETF holding is CoinShares’ Bitcoin Tracker One XBT with approximately 37,603 BTC under management.

In total, ETFs, public and private companies own almost 1.5 million BTC, more than 7% of the total supply.

Learn more about bitcoin ETFs.

Retirement accounts are another popular method for indirect exposure to bitcoin. A growing number of custodians offer financial services and Traditional or Roth IRA products that can include bitcoin.

Learn more about investing bitcoin in a retirement account.

Governments Holding the Most Bitcoin

Governments across the world own an estimated 244,779 BTC, representing 1.17% of the total supply. The Chinese government reportedly holds 194,000 BTC that was recovered from the Plustoken scam in 2019. Members of the Ukrainian government privately hold roughly 46,351 BTC. El Salvador’s holdings are currently at 2,381 BTC.

Learn more about how much bitcoin governments own.

Total Bitcoin Supply

Under the current Bitcoin software rules, there can never be more than 21 million bitcoin. For that reason, percent ownership of the total bitcoin supply can be safely calculated using the hard cap of 21 million.

However, some models use the total supply of bitcoin excluding the more than 1,000,000 BTC that Satoshi Nakamoto received in block rewards and the estimated 3-4 million coins that are lost forever. This places the total supply of bitcoin closer to 18 million rather than 21 million. Regardless of the model used, there is a strict upper limit on the number of bitcoin that will ever exist. Therefore, all bitcoin owners can be confident that their share of bitcoin will never be diluted below a certain percentage.

Learn more about how lost bitcoin makes bitcoin more valuable.

Build your Bitcoin wealth with River

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