person holding silver bitcoin coin

From January 14 to 22, 2022, Bitcoin (BTC) led the crypto market on a downward spiral. BTC lost 19%, while altcoins lost as much as 30% in nine days. In a previous article,, I reported that Ethereum whales collectively accumulated $1.7 billion worth of ETH during the crash. In the meantime, what did the BTC whales do? Did they collectively sell, hold/hodl, or buy?

Data Sample

The list of whales was sourced from After downloading and cleaning the data, I put the BTC whale list here:

I created a BTC sample similar to the ETH sample in the previous article. Both samples cover non-exchange, non-mining pool, non-custodial, non-depository wallets; both samples include about 5,000 wallets, representing about 45% of coin ownership in their respective blockchains. Having similar samples allows us to make apples-to-apples comparisons between BTC and ETH.

I queried the sample against the bitcoin blockchain, made some calculations, and included the results in this spreadsheet:

The tabs in the spreadsheet above show inflows, outflows, net flows (inflows minus outflows) of BTC from and to active whale wallets (those that had at least one transaction) during Jan 14-22. Summary tables and charts are also provided, and discussed below.

January 21 In Focus

The price chart shows the steady slide from Jan 14, leading up to a sharp drop of 10% on Jan 21, culminating in a 19% drop for the nine-day period. This shock was felt hardest among the new investors who bought BTC at much higher levels, up to to $67,000 per coin. Behind the scenes, what were the whales doing?

Behind the scenes, only 289 of the 5200 whales sampled were active during this crash; this is an indication that they were mostly unfazed. Their activities are summarized in the chart below:

Not only were they unfazed, but the active BTC whales accumulated a net 134,104 coins, valued at $4.7 billion as of Jan 22. The sharp price drop happened on Jan 21. What happened on and around Jan 21 is very interesting.

There was sporadic buying by the whales in the week before Jan 21. Suddenly, one day before the sharp price drop, they started buying heavily. The buying spiked even more on the day of the sharp price drop, and continued thereafter. This behavior may be counter-intuitive to newer investors who panic-sell.

For comparison, I included a similar chart for ETH whales below:

The ETH chart tells a similar story. A full discussion on ETH whales’ activities during the same time period is here:


Combined, BTC and ETH account for 76% of the crypto market’s total value. BTC and ETH active whales poured additional $6.4 billion into the combined assets during a time that spooked the masses. This show of confidence in the two largest cryptocurrencies should bode well for a market recovery in general. In future articles, I will delve deeper into activities of BTC and ETH whales. Stay tuned and feel free to subscribe to email alerts below.