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Investors Downplay Self-Proclaimed Bitcoin Inventor’s Liquidation Warning

Olga Kharif

(Bloomberg) -- Craig Wright is warning that billions of dollars in Bitcoin could soon flood the cryptocurrency market after an unfavorable court hearing.

Investors seem to be taking the alert in stride, with Bitcoin little changed at about $10,150 after the self-proclaimed inventor of the cryptocurrency under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamora said he “has no choice” but to hand over $5 billion to the estate of his late business partner, Dave Kleiman.

“I’m not worried about Craig transferring Bitcoin to Kleiman because I don’t think he has any to transfer,” Ryan Selkis, chief executive officer at crypto researcher Messari Inc., said in an email. “It’s a sideshow, not a real story.”

Wright is defending himself against allegations that he stole Bitcoins and intellectual property from the Kleiman estate. Speculation that the judge reached a decision in the case spiked late Monday after a Twitter user claimed to attend the latest court hearing. Nothing has been filed yet by the federal court in Florida.

“The judge still has to make the final decision,” Ed Pownall, a spokesman for Wright, wrote in an email to Bloomberg.

That hasn’t stopped Wright from warning of the potential consequences.

“The courts ruled that Ira (Kleiman, brother of Dave Kleiman) inherited those billions,” Wright wrote in an email forwarded by Pownall. “Now he has to pay estate tax on that if he wants it.”

Wright said in earlier testimony that he handed off a key piece of information to Kleiman before he died in 2013, making it hard to track down the digital wallets holding the Bitcoins. He said it’s possible he may never be able to access the coins.

“The Kleiman family has waited a long time to recover assets that should have been returned to it shortly after Dave’s unfortunate death in 2013,” Devin Freedman, a partner at Roche Freedman LLP, which represents the estate, wrote in an email Monday to Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at jherron8@bloomberg.net, Dave Liedtka, Rita Nazareth

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