Large bitcoin investors have been selling some of their holdings amid this year's price rally, blockchain data shows, supporting recent signs retail buying has been a key factor in supporting the market.
Sometimes referred to as bitcoin's "rich list," the number of unique addresses holding more than 1,000 BTC has shrunk by over 8% since Feb. 8, according to the data provider Glassnode.
"Whale addresses have been selling," market analyst Lark Davis tweeted. "This does not mean the bull run is over. It just means that profit taking is happening."
On Wednesday, 2,275 addresses held at least 1,000 bitcoins, down more than 200 from Feb. 8's record high of 2,488.
A single person or exchange can hold multiple addresses, leaving some doubt in the numbers. It's possible the rise or fall in the number of addresses containing at least 1,000 coins does not necessarily represent an equivalent influx or outflux of large investors.
But a weakening of buying pressure from large investors would be consistent with other recent market indicators, including a decline in the so-called "Coinbase premium," which theoretically indicates flagging institutional demand.
Bitcoin, however, has remained bid over the past 5.5 weeks, clocking new highs above $60,000, possibly on the back of increased retail participation.
"The price since early January was predominantly retail, a fact highlighted by the [five times] more sign-ups on Binance compared to Coinbase," Glassnode's Uncharted newsletter, dated Feb. 27, said. Coinbase's Coinbase Pro unit caters to larger, more sophisticated traders such as institutions and rich individuals.
The rich list grew during the May 2020-February 2021 period as whales vigorously accumulated the cryptocurrency.