How many bitcoin are lost forever?
10% of all bitcoin did not move for over 10 years
About one in ten Bitcoin (BTC) hasn’t been moved in 10 or more years. At least that’s what blockchain analytics company Glassnode says.
Glassnode’s data shows that 1,857,721 Bitcoin have remained “stationary” for more than 10 years (as of Dec. 17). With a total of about 18,573,268 BTC in circulation (although this number grows every 10 minutes as miners find new blocks), this represents about 10% of all BTC mined to date.
Still, while some Bitcoin maximalists may see this as a sign of true “Hodler” commitment, the reality is much less romantic. Most of these BTC are probably long “dead” — lost forever due to various circumstances, so no one can ever use them.
1 million BTC from Satoshi Nakamoto
First of all, the enigmatic creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, mined about 1 million BTC (according to various estimates), which have now not been moved in over a decade. Since no one knows where he — or she — might be today, or even if they are still alive, the fate of these Bitcoins is unclear.
On January 3, 2019, Glassnode’s charts started showing BTC's numbers that haven’t moved in 10 years. That’s because it’s exactly 10 years after the Bitcoin network was launched and Nakamoto began mining his first coins.
In total, 3.7 million BTC are probably lost forever
But even if we take Nakamoto’s Bitcoin holdings out of the equation, another 2.6 million Bitcoin are likely lost forever as well. This could be for various reasons, including misplaced private keys, broken hard drives, intentionally burned BTC, or even people dying without leaving anyone their wallets.
In total, at least 3.7 million Bitcoin — or about 20% of all BTC currently in existence — are most likely gone.
At current prices, that’s $83.3 billion worth of Bitcoin sunk into oblivion.
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