Thursday, April 23, 2015

Zombie Coin Movements - The Calbuco Cluster

Over the past two weeks the movement of some "Zombie Coins" has raised some interest in twitter.

A low rumbling source of old bitcoins is erupting causing panic in some traders minds.  Kind of like a once dormant volcano suddenly erupting.  I dub these coins the "Calbuco Cluster."

Want to play along at home?  Download the Numisight Bitcoin Explorer and load the files linked in the captions of the images of this analysis.

Movements of April 2015

Starting on April 15th over 26K BTC moved from a 16 month old address into several new addresses.  Over 15K of that value was stored in a single address 1MzG9Gx5G3ZTXtEQT4FJg23Cb3gS6UF982 while the balance was stored in multiple single addresses.  About a week later on April 21st the other addresses were moved again in a transaction resulting in one coin of 5K BTC exactly, another one of 5,373 BTC (and one hundred bits) and a leftover address holding only 443 mBTC and change.

None of the addresses used in these movements has been seen before on the blockchain, so no input clustering analysis can be performed.

April 2015 Movements of the Calbuco Cluster [numisgraph]
Mass Movements of Dec 2013

The six transactions that all of these coins originate from are part of a much larger movement of coins that occurred in December of 2013.  Spread across 25 transactions all part of the same block (#276158) a total of 103,092.998 BTC shifted from one set of unique addresses to another set of unique addresses.  For the most part these were relay transactions (single input and output).  The only exceptions were a few addresses that consolidated a little bit of dust spam of 100 bits a piece that had gathered there before the coins moved.  I'de post a graph, but that spoils the next section.

What is interesting to note, however, was the market dynamics at the time this movement occurred.  The market had just come off of it's record highs a few weeks earlier. Had these coins moved then they would have been worth in excess of USD$100MM, but at the time of the movement they were worth USD$66,615,602.50.

Based on market volume, it is unlikely that this represents a large single trade.  At best it represents a position gained over a while and then cashed out in BTC, and that is if they don't represent individual or institutional holdings.  However a couple of days before the trade (18 Dec 2013) a large drop in price occurred and there were at least two exchanges (BTC-e and BitStamp) that reported volume that could have accounted for the movements in a single day.  But I would have expected the movement to precede the volume given the downside price pressure.

Peel Chain of March 2011

All of these coins that moved in December all originate from a peel chain that occurred in March 2011.  Keep scrolling, because it's a long one.

March 2011 Calbuco Cluster Peel Chain [numisgraph]
This peel chain, mostly of 150K BTC and possibly from 400BTC, is the origin of all of the coins that moved last week.  And this gives us a clue as to how much BTC is left to ooze out.

This chain has origins to a Jan 2011 sweep transaction of 181 smaller coins (not pictured).  Values ranged from 40K BTC to 10 mBTC, with most below 1000BTC and clumping at 50BTC.  Coins were then relayed and peeled into a 150K BTC and 250K BTC coins.  The 250K BTC branch entered a more complex series of transactions and will not be considered part of the cluster.

The 150K BTC branch in early March then proceeded to form a peel chain of 33 peels.  25 of the peels survived until December of 2013 when they were all relayed to new addresses.  The other 8 peel coins were spent prior to this event and were not evaluated as part of this analysis.

What Lies Beneath

Of the 25 coin relays in December 2013 only 17 remain unspent, representing 71,714.9987 BTC in the "magma chamber."  Note that this weeks and last weeks "eruption" only consisted of 6 of the relay coins.  There were also single coin eruptions in September and October of 2014, but since they were smaller and younger coins the "coin days destroyed" graphs didn't register as dramatically.

I honestly have no idea who controls these coins, or how many times they changed hands.  The December movement could have been a shuffle to move the keys from a USB key kept underneath someones mattress to bank grade key storage, and it could have easily been someone who had to cover their sales at an exchange days after the trade.  The recent movements could have corresponded to an American behind on their taxes paying the piper so to speak, since it did occur on a major US Tax Deadline.  But the one thing I am very confident of is that these are not the Mt. Gox coins you've been looking for *Obi-Wan*Jedi*wave*.