Bitcoin Bulls Buoyed by Report of FTX's $1B GBTC Sale

Flows of fresh investor money into the newly approved spot bitcoin ETFs may be far higher than previously thought.

AccessTimeIconJan 22, 2024 at 7:09 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:18 p.m. UTC

At least partly to blame for bitcoin's (BTC) poor price performance since the Jan. 11 debut of U.S.-based spot ETFs are sizable sales of bitcoin from the mammoth Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). According to the Grayscale website, GBTC held roughly 567,000 bitcoin as of Jan. 19, down from just shy of 620,000 prior to Jan. 11 launch.

So while the new spot ETFs have gathered more than 94,000 bitcoin and $3.9 billion in assets under management (AUM) since opening for trade (data through Jan. 19), the bears are pointing out that 53,000 of those tokens may just be GBTC holders moving their money into the lower cost vehicles. (GBTC charges a 1.5% management fee, at least 1 percentage point more than nearly all of the new funds.)

A CoinDesk story Monday morning, however, reported the bankruptcy estate for failed crypto exchange FTX as having sold the entirety of its 22 million share holding of GBTC (the equivalent of almost 20,000 bitcoin) for nearly $1 billion.

The news means a couple of things, both of which on first glance appear bullish. First, more than one-third of the selling of GBTC was due to one non-economic actor. Second, there was nearly $1 billion more of fresh investment into the new spot ETFs than previously thought.

"$1 billion of GBTC sales was the FTX estate, which means the inflows we have seen into the new ETFs was not merely recycled funds from GBTC," said Swan Managing Director Steven Lubka, summing the information.

For now at least, the sellers of bitcoin continue to have the upper hand, with the price Monday afternoon lower by 2.8% over the past 24 hours to $40,400.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


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Stephen  Alpher

Stephen Alpher is CoinDesk's managing editor for Markets. He holds BTC above CoinDesk’s disclosure threshold of $1,000.