The U.S. government sold 9.45 BTC during a four-day auction that closed earlier this week, with the bitcoin being purchased at a notable discount compared to market prices.
The auction was performed by GSA Auctions, a service of the United States General Service Administration (GSA) that functions as the federal government's online clearinghouse for surplus, federally-owned assets and equipment.
"Cryptocurrency is certainly some of the most unique items to ever come up for public sale on our GSA Auctions platform, but the excitement from our bidders is undeniable," said Thomas Meiron, regional commissioner with GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, according to a release about the recent bitcoin auction. "It goes without saying that you never know what you're going to find on GSA Auctions."
The 11 lots auctioned amounted to 9.45 BTC, which would have a market value based on listed cryptocurrency exchange prices of around $520,000 at the time of this writing. But, according to The Block, the GSA only brought in a total of $487,000, meaning that the government-furnished bitcoin was sold at a significant discount.
Fungibility is a fundamental property of Bitcoin. It ensures that one unspent transaction output (UTXO), commonly referred to as a "coin," can be exchanged for another coin. This property is essential for bitcoin to function as a suitable medium of exchange. Bitcoin's fungibility is occasionally put to the test, however, as some exchanges have been rejecting BTC of doubtful origin, because it was potentially used for illegal purposes.
Therefore, it can be considered strange that government-sold BTC would be available at a discount, as opposed to a premium, since it can be viewed as tacitly endorsed by U.S. regulators. GSA has not disclosed the specific origin of the bitcoin it has auctioned.