Many expected the recent announcement about the SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETF to give the flagship crypto a fresh start, but for many, it became a searching experience. Like someone looking for a positive vibe in life but who falls into a negative spiral the way cookies crumble, the BTC price crushed, and the bull struggled to maintain the $42,000 price point, leaving investors and enthusiasts with more questions than answers regarding the decline.

Read More: Bitcoin Critically Fell After the ETF Approval. What’s Next?

Our comprehensive analysis goes behind the scenes to uncover what intricacies denied the bulls the momentum required to sustain the $42,000 mark.      

A New Theory Suggests a Single Whale Could Have Caused Bitcoin’s $9,000 Drop Last Week

Innumerable factors have historically influenced Bitcoin’s price movement. From macroeconomic trends to regulatory developments, technological advancements, and market sentiments, market players expected the recent BTC ETF approval to become an instant positive influence. However, investors and traders had their hopes dashed after the price of Bitcoin dropped 15% from $49,000 in two days after the United States pioneer spot exchange-traded fund (ETF) was launched underwhelming traders.

According to a crypto analyst using on-chain analysis, Bitcoin’s narrow price range over a seven-day period and the attendant pressure could be traced to a single BTC whale from as far back as 2021. Researcher and data analyst at CryptoSlate James Van Straten opined via social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that the whale’s action of offloading Bitcoin may have been responsible for a $9,000 drop in BTC price beginning January 11, 2024.    

Did One Bitcoin Whale Make a $100 Million Profit?

According to Van Straten, the Bitcoin whale responsible for the significant sell-off bought some 100,000 BTC at the peak of the 2021 Bull Run at a mind-blowing $4.8 billion. The unknown entity seized the moment when the BTC price hit $49,000 to sell Bitcoin and break even and made a jaw-dropping $100 million profit amid the prolonged bear market.

The analyst believes the whale’s actions, coupled with a “sell the news” sentiment and ongoing liquidations hot on the heels of the spot Bitcoin ETF launch, created a market frenzy that impacted the BTC price stability.   

The Prospect of Continued Major BTC Sales

The after-effect of this dumbfounding sell-off transcends the immediate impact on the price of Bitcoin. While the instant anticipated effects of institutional access to BTC via spot Bitcoin ETF are yet to be realized, the price action has raised questions regarding the future movements of institutional players in the market. Strangely, the single whale’s sell-off rivaled the magnitude of the newly approved Bitcoin ETF and the prospective liquidation of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust’s (GBTC) position.


Van Straten’s analysis raises questions about the possibility of other significant players like FTX who are yet to liquidate their GBTC offerings triggering similar sell-side pressures. The action of this one Bitcoin whale is the clearest indication of the fragile balance within the Bitcoin ecosystem, where minuscule intricacies can trigger significant market movements. 

Bitcoin holders, investors, and traders must understand the existing undercurrents so they can predict future market trends and respond accordingly. As we wait to see whether the introduction of institutional access to Bitcoin will squeeze supply and drive up the price, the possibility of further sell-offs still looms large. This incident is a reminder of the complexity and unpredictability of the crypto market, where large transactions by crypto whales can easily sway market dynamics.             

The Biggest Bitcoin Whales

According to, there are at least around 19.5 million out of the maximum 21 million BTC in circulation. While there are possibly hundreds of thousands of Bitcoin owners holding some of these digital assets, Bitcoin whales, consisting of individuals or organizations, own most of these Bitcoins. Crypto whales are important market players as their actions can highly influence market movements. The following is a list of prominent whales per expert estimates:    

1. Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin going by that pseudonym, has over 22,000 digital wallets holding over 1 million BTC worth over $41.302 billion at the time of writing.

2. Brian Armstrong

Brian Armstrong holds at least $6.5 billion in crypto making him a big whale. No one knows what percentage of the Coinbase CEO’s crypto portfolio is Bitcoin. 

3. Michael Saylor

Michael Saylor is an American businessman and entrepreneur. Experts believe he owns at least 17,732 Bitcoin $746 million and is suspected to be responsible for several recent Bitcoin price movements. 

4. Changpeng Zhao

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has a net worth of $96 billion and it’s believed most of it is in terms on crypto, especially Bitcoin and Binance coin (BNB). While the correct figures are scanty, CZ is among current Bitcoin whales.  

5. Tim Draper

Renowned entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and tech billionaire Tim Draper is said to have joined the league of significant Bitcoin whales following his purchase of 30,000 BTC that Silk Road seized. Draper’s net worth is at least $1 billion.  

6. The Winklevoss Twins

Gemini exchange cofounders identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss invested their $65 million 2012 court settlement after they accused Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their social network idea in a stack of Bitcoin. With around 70,000 BTC in their portfolio in addition to other cryptocurrencies, the twins were suspected to own at least 1% of the Bitcoin in circulation at the time.   

Read More: Meet the Biggest Crypto Villains to Walk the Earth!


How many Bitcoin whales are there?

Members of the crypto community have a minimum threshold of 1,000 BTC for anyone to be considered a whale. 

Are whales selling BTC?

Whales sold over at 50,000 BTC worth over $2.2 billion in early 2024. 


Who are the largest Bitcoin holders?

According to Bitcoin research firm River Intelligence, Satoshi Nakamoto is the largest Bitcoin holder with 1 million BTC. The firm explains that Nakamoto keeps his Bitcoin holdings in some 22,000 different digital addresses. On the other hand, Bitcoin billionaire wallet tracking website BitInfoCharts stated the ten most lucrative wallet addresses are owned by Binance and Bitfinex crypto exchanges.

Are crypto whales real?

Yes, crypto whales exist even though the definition could vary based on the exact digital asset involved. Everyone who wants to buy Bitcoin or sell Bitcoin should watch whale activity since they affect the crypto market one way or the other. 

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