Feds to auction 50,000 bitcoins from Dread Pirate Roberts

The U.S. Marshal’s Service on Monday announced a second series of auctions to sell off thousands of bitcoins related to the seizure of the online criminal bazaar known as the Silk Road. The first auction, which took place in June, sold off bitcoins belonging to Silk Road, while the new auction will sell those belonging to the site’s mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, better known as “Dread Pirate Roberts.”

In the second phase of the auction, scheduled to take place over six hours on December 4, the Marshals will sell off 20 blocks of bitcoins, in chunks of 2,000 or 3,000 at a time. To participate in the auction, bidders must pre-register and supply documentation by December 1.

This time around, the U.S. government is likely to fetch less money for each bitcoin than it did in the first round in June, when it sold 29,655 bitcoins for around $18 million to venture capitalist Tim Draper. At that time, each unit of the virtual currency fetched around $600, but more recently the price has hovered closer to $380 (Coinbase shows the price at around $400 as of Monday morning ET).

The 50,000 bitcoins going up for auction in December are only part of the estimated 144,000 bitcoins that the Marshals seized from Ulbricht after a dramatic raid in San Francisco in October 2013. Ulbricht is now facing trial in New York on a series of charges, including attempted murder, even as controversy swirls over a reportedly warrantless search that led to his downfall.