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Who Owns the Most Bitcoin in 2024?

11 mins
Fact Checked
by Ish Bautista
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Who owns the most Bitcoin? It’s a question that many of us have likely pondered at some point. Could it be Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive creator of Bitcoin? Or could it be an institutional investor such as MicroStrategy or Tesla? What about governments? After all, isn’t it plausible that at least a few world governments are sitting on large Bitcoin stashes?

Unfortunately, there are no definitive answers, and the world is still essentially in the dark about who owns the most Bitcoin. However, we can certainly make some educated guesses. And that’s precisely what this article does. Here’s what we know about the biggest BTC whales around the globe.

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What drives Bitcoin’s value?

who owns most bitcoin

Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin with the vision that one day, it would be a more transparent, democratic, and widely used alternative to fiat currencies. 

While fiat currencies, by design, give central banks control over the economy, Bitcoin does just the opposite. It challenges the existing financial order by enabling anyone with a digital device, such as a smartphone, to conduct financial transactions with people or businesses from anywhere in the world on a one-on-one basis — no hefty fees, delays, or unwarranted intervention by the banking system or other legacy financial institutions.

It’s true that Bitcoin is still far from achieving the objective of replacing fiat to become the de-facto global currency. That said, it has pulled off a big feat by already earning a spot at the high table of the world’s leading assets. In fact, it has repeatedly proved itself to be the best-performing asset in recent years, surpassing the likes of gold, oil, and stocks.

Several factors collectively give Bitcoin its value, including:

  • Scarcity: Bitcoin’s maximum supply has been capped at 21 million, making it an inherently deflationary asset.
  • Durability: As a decentralized digital asset, Bitcoin is far more durable than any conventional physical asset such as oil or even precious metals.
  • Divisibility: You can divide a Bitcoin into up to eight decimal places, making it far more divisible than fiat currencies.
  • Authenticity: Unlike many other assets, such as gold or fiat, it is extremely difficult (or practically impossible) to counterfeit Bitcoin.
  • Portability: Bitcoin (and other digital currencies) is probably the most portable asset in the world. So, as long as you have access to your public and private keys, you can carry along your Bitcoin stash wherever you go.

Who owns the most Bitcoin?

btc

Largest Bitcoin wallets

One way to track who owns the most Bitcoin in 2024 is to find the wallets with the highest BTC balances. As of January 2024, there are only four Bitcoin wallets with a balance of anywhere between 100,000 to 1 million BTC. The top five wallets collectively account for 3.53% of the total coins in circulation.

As shown in the image below, two of the top five wallets with the highest balance belong to Binance. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Binance owns the most Bitcoin because a good chunk of the coins it holds are actually user funds deposited with the exchange.

who owns the most bitcoin 2024
Top five richest Bitcoin wallet addresses: BitInfoCharts

The next 102 wallets on the list contain anywhere between 10,000 to 100,000 BTC each. With 2,272,987 BTC in total, they collectively account for 11.61% of the total circulating supply.

Bitcoin distribution

As of early January 2024, a little more than 19.5 million Bitcoins (of the 21 million maximum supply) have been mined, and the overall coin distribution is as follows:

who owns the most bitcoin distribution
BTC distribution: BitInfoCharts

Note that although Bitcoin’s circulating supply is 19.5+ million on paper, the actual number of coins in circulation could be far less. That’s because it is estimated that nearly 4 million BTC have been lost forever.

It is also worth underlining here that wallet addresses can only give us a general overview of Bitcoin’s overall distribution. Because of the relative anonymity ensured by the Bitcoin network, wallet addresses alone may not always be sufficient to link a particular wallet to a particular person or entity.

As stated previously, in the case of an exchange like Binance, a portion of the total amount of BTC held with the exchange belongs to customers. Additionally, an individual or company can own BTC in multiple wallets. Therefore, determining who exactly owns the most Bitcoin is challenging, as the degree of certainty is diminished by these complex factors. 

Individual(s) who own the most Bitcoin

The order of this list depends on whether you consider Satoshi Nakamoto as an individual. The pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin never revealed their true identity, leaving room for all sorts of speculation. Some believe that it is/was a person, while others say that the pseudonym probably represents a team of experts who combined their brilliance to give birth to the world’s first cryptocurrency. The jury is still out.

How much Bitcoin does Satoshi Nakamoto own?

Bitcoin

As the creator and probably the first miner on the Bitcoin network, Nakamoto mined more than 22,000 blocks before going off the radar in 2011. Based on the mining rewards at the time, Nakamoto is believed to own more than 1 million BTC stored across many wallets. The interesting part, however, is that Nakamoto never spent any of these Bitcoins, barring a few test transactions. 

So, that makes Satoshi Nakamoto a Bitcoin billionaire. However, that figure was significantly higher (~$66 billion) when BTC peaked at $68,789 in November 2021. 

If you consider Satoshi Nakamoto to be a person rather than a collective, you could consider him the individual who owns the most Bitcoin. As for the others in this list, we have (in no particular order) a few educated guesses.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

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Not long after their highly-publicized dispute over the founding of Facebook, the Winklevoss twins went all-in with crypto and invested in multiple cryptocurrencies and blockchain/crypto businesses. In 2014, they founded Gemini, a New York State Department of Financial Services-regulated crypto exchange and custodian. 

According to Forbes, the Winklevoss twins were among the first to reach the “Bitcoin Billionaire” status. They own an estimated 70,000 BTC, among other digital currencies.

Michael J. Saylor

Michael Saylor is the co-founder and CEO of MicroStrategy, a business intelligence firm. While it’s true that MicroStrategy has been making it to the crypto headlines fairly regularly these days, the company itself predates blockchain and cryptocurrencies by several decades.

Founded in 1989, MicroStrategy was offering a range of software and cloud-based services before dipping its toes in crypto. Saylor started betting big on Bitcoin in 2019, and it paid off. He currently owns somewhere around 17,700 BTC, while MicroStrategy holds approximately 189,150 BTC, if you include its subsidiaries.

Tim Draper

As an investor with more than three decades of experience and many successful investments to show for it, Tim Draper is a familiar name on Wall Street. Besides his other early investments in companies like Tesla and Skype, Draper was also an early adopter of Bitcoin

In 2014, the U.S. Marshals Service held an auction for selling a huge stash of Bitcoin seized from Silk Road, an infamous dark web marketplace. Draper took this opportunity to buy 30,000 BTC for $19 million. And in all likelihood, that was just one of his early investments in the asset, with many more that followed in subsequent years.

Governments with large Bitcoin stashes

Shanghai city blockchain infrastructure, Shanghai metaverse, government blockchain, tokenization, China

It is not outside the realm of possibility to believe that governments would hold Bitcoin. As a matter of fact, it is well-known that some do. While the reasons may differ, it is only natural that some would hold large reserves of Bitcoin.

While some countries like El Salvador acknowledge Bitcoin as a legal tender and are even actively hoarding it, others are more secretive in their approach. For example, there are reports that North Korea has been regularly using hackers and other dubious means to acquire crypto. 

There are also reports that Bulgaria currently holds about 213,000 BTC, seized from a hack in 2017. Although, it is unclear if they are still holding it. Certain members of the Ukrainian government are also believed to be holding roughly 46,000 BTC privately, although BeInCrypto is unable to verify this independently.

Another unsurprising holder of Bitcoins is the U.S. government. The U.S. holds hundreds of thousands of Bitcoin seized from the dark web and hacks, such as the Silk Road and Bitfinex. While the details are sketchy, some estimate that the lower bound of the amount the U.S. government holds is upwards of 200,000 BTC from these incidents alone. And there is a high probability that it holds even more.

Public and private companies holding the most Bitcoin

MicroStrategy Bitcoin, BTC

It is becoming increasingly common for companies to invest a part of their corporate savings in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This diversification strategy aims to hedge against inflation and negative yield bonds.

On that note, let’s cover some public and private companies holding large volumes of BTC:

Public companies

who owns the most bitcoin public companies
Public companies that own BTC: buybitcoinwolrdwide.com
  • MicroStrategy (MSTR): MicroStrategy is hands down the largest corporate holder of Bitcoin by quite some distance. The Virginia-based business intelligence software maker currently has over 189,000 BTC in its treasury. However, many sources differ on the exact number and estimate anywhere from 150,000 to 189,000 BTC. It is also worth mentioning here that MicroStrategy is led by co-founder and CEO Michael Saylor, who is himself a top contender for the title of the individual who owns the most Bitcoin.
  • Marathon Digital (MARA): Marathon Digital is one of the largest Bitcoin mining companies and one of the largest holders of BTC amongst publicly traded companies in North America. According to CoinGecko, Marathon Digital holds between 13,00014,000 BTC.
  • Galaxy Digital: Galaxy Digital pitches itself as a technology-driven investment and research firm offering quality financial solutions spanning the cryptocurrency ecosystem. CoinGecko puts the company as owning between 8,000 and 12,000 BTC.
  • Tesla (TSLA): Fourth on the list, Tesla, at one point, accepted Bitcoin as payment (albeit for a very brief period). Elon Musk, the CEO of the company, is an unapologetic proponent of the asset class and went on record with a statement that Tesla may restart accepting Bitcoin for payments. The company holds about 10,000 BTC as of January 2024.

Private companies

Private companies that own Bitcoin: bitcointreasuries.net
Private companies that own Bitcoin: bitcointreasuries.net

As previously mentioned, determining the holders of the most BTC isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. 

For example, the list of private companies that hold Bitcoin looks different based on the verification method. Many of the companies use multiple addresses. However, if you create a list of single addresses holding the most BTC, the list will look drastically different. Readers should keep this in mind.

Private companies with the most BTC

  • Binance: Binance has two distinct Bitcoin addresses, each individually ranking within the top 10 for the highest amount of Bitcoin held by a single address. Its largest wallet holds 248,597 BTC, the most for a single address on the blockchain. Keep in mind that Binance has more BTC wallets. According to its proof-of-reserves, the company holds over 580,000 BTC in total.
  • Bitfinex: In terms of single addresses that hold the most BTC, Bitfinex sits at the second spot. It is one of the longest-running exchanges in the industry. The Bitfinex cold wallet currently holds 210,010 BTC and is the second largest holder of BTC by single address.
  • Tether: Tether needs no introduction, but we will give it one anyway. It is the issuer of the most popular stablecoin, USDT, which has the largest market cap and circulating supply out of all stablecoins. The company has recently made several withdrawals from Bitfinex for BTC, which put it at the number ten spot for most BTC held by a single address. It holds 66,465 BTC.
  • Block.one: China-based Block.one, the firm behind the open-source blockchain platform EOSIO, tops this chart with reportedly 140,000-164,000 BTC. This is aggregated across multiple addresses.
  • Mt. Gox: Although currently defunct, Mt. Gox is still a large holder of BTC. The Japan-based exchange became popular during the early 2010s and would eventually handle most BTC transactions until its infamous hack, which is still the largest BTC hack to date. As per Crypto Ground data, Mt. Gox reportedly holds between 140,000 and 160,000 BTC across various wallets.
  • Stone Ridge Holdings Group: Last on the list is Stone Ridge Holdings Group, a financial services company from New York, with about 10,000 BTC in holdings, as documented by Bitcoin Treasuries.

What’s in store for Bitcoin in 2024?

Bitcoin experienced a great wave of innovation, attention, and price performance in 2023.

According to BeInCrypto’s Bitcoin price prediction, the original cryptocurrency is also expected to have a positive price performance in 2024, with higher highs and higher lows. Moreover, when you take into account an impending Bitcoin ETF approval in the U.S. and the Bitcoin halving due in May 2024, the fundamentals suggest an approaching bull market for Bitcoin.

All of these factors contributed to BTC’s price performance in 2023 (more than 150% price hike) and will likely fuel the narrative for its growth in 2024.

bitcoin price 2023-2024
Bitcoin price 2023: TradingView

Bitcoin whales: Will we ever know?

As you can see, it’s still pretty difficult to draw any definitive conclusions on who owns the most Bitcoin. In the end, it all seems to boil down to whether Satoshi Nakamoto is a person or a group. If it is a person who still has access to their many wallets holding 1M+ BTC in total, then probably it is safe to say Satoshi Nakamoto owns the world’s largest Bitcoin stash.

Meanwhile, if you plan on buying the dip to make the most out of the ongoing bear market, consider joining the BeInCrypto Premium Telegram Group. Three traders every day post useful insights and technical analysis — but only you will decide whether to follow them or not. It’s free! To join, just click the link above and follow the simple instructions.

Frequently asked questions

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Ryan Glenn
Ryan Glenn is a journalist, writer, and author. Ryan is motivated to educate as many people as possible on the benefits of web3 and cryptocurrency. He has authored “The Best Book for Learning Cryptocurrency,” and runs an educational platform, web3school.us, dedicated to demystifying the crypto space. Ryan built the platform to transition tech-savvy and non-tech individuals into crypto and give everyone a baseline understanding of the different fields in the cryptosphere. Ryan is also an...
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