The owners of Ethereum,, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, have lost their crypto wallets containing 532,426 Ethereum with a current market value of $1.6 billion since its "presale" in 2014.
According to new research from CryptoAssetRecovery.com, the largest of these lost wallets holds over $60 million worth of Ethereum.
Ethereum is currently priced at about $2,000 amid the current crypto mayhem.
In 2014, when it was first offered for 'presale', it cost around 30 cents.
Researchers recently discovered that nearly 7 per cent of the Ethereum bought during the 'presale' has never moved from its original wallets, likely meaning that the owners have lost control of their private keys.
"The Ethereum presale was literally a sale of Ether to investors before Ether existed. Investors could buy Ether with Bitcoin, even though the Ethereum blockchain did not yet exist, and the genesis block had not yet been mined," according to the team.
Following weeks of speculation, Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum founder, had announced the sale.
He informed potential investors that Ether (his company's transactional token) would be available in the presale at a discount price of 2,000 Ether (ETH) per Bitcoin (BTC).
"The sale will last 42 days, concluding at 23:59 Zug (Europe) time September 2 (2014)," he wrote.
"If you purchase Ether, DO NOT lose your wallet file or your password, or you will never be able to access your ether."
Sometimes things went wrong during the presale.
For instance, a Washington D.C. family claims that it's struggling to access about $6 million locked away in an Ethereum presale wallet.
An Ethereum presale wallet is only considered "lost" if funds have never moved since they were received from the "genesis block".
Since the genesis block, 630 of the 8,893 addresses, representing just over 7 per cent of the presale wallets, have never moved.
"While 7 per cent of these wallets may seem small, the amount of Ethereum stored away in these wallets is staggering. Locked away are 532,426 Ethereum, valued at roughly $1.6 billion at current market prices (April 2022)," the researchers from CryptoAssetRecovery.com noted.
Of the 630 wallets that have never moved, the average wallet value is just over 845 Ethereum (roughly $2.6 million at current market price).