ENS whale resurfaces after almost 3 years to snag 40K ETH windfall

This move came from the owner of darkmarket.eth, the most valuable domain on ENS


Tory Kallman/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


After more than two years of inactivity, an Ethereum Name Service (ENS) whale has resurfaced to claim millions in ETH.

The account holder, which owns the famed “darkmarket.eth” ENS domain among others, recovered 39,712 ETH early on a recent Monday morning, worth approximately $74 million at time of publication.

These funds were initially locked as a bid when the domain was purchased through ENS, and they have been unclaimed for years. The account holder then transferred part of these reclaimed funds — 63,734 ETH, worth roughly $118 million at time of publication — to a different Ethereum address.

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ENS founder Nick Johnson clarified in a tweet from February 2021 that the initial deposit of close to 40,000 ETH was made during the first two years of ENS’ operation.

Johnson had tried appealing to the user, and he directed them to where they could reclaim the funds at that time. Now that the individual appears to have done just that, Johnson seized the opportunity to provide further guidance to other users on how they can retrieve their own locked-up ether.

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When Blockworks asked Johnson what he made of this situation, he said he couldn’t offer much in the way of specifics on the whale.

“I’m as intrigued as you!” he responded via email. “I’ve never had direct contact with them, and I’m very curious as to what made them suddenly come back to life.”

According to a 2021 Protos report, darkmarket.eth sold in 2017 for 20,103 ETH, which was worth about $5 million at the time, or $37 million at current prices.

The whale’s reclaimed funds also included earnings from other domains they own. Among these is the second most expensive ENS domain to date — openmarket.eth — currently valued at over $18 million. Other notable domains associated with this whale include silkroad.eth, openexchange.eth, and payment.eth, according to Protos.

Updated July 31, 2023 at 2:47 pm ET: Added comment from ENS founder Nick Johnson.

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