One year ago, as bitcoin prices were in free fall just after peaking above $20,000 (a peak that, as fate would have it, ended up marking the end of one of the most frenzied asset bubbles since the financial crisis) we reported that one "mystery trader" (later revealed to be BlockTower Capital) had dropped $1 million on a batch of one-year call options that would only pay off if bitcoin traded above $50,000 before their expiration date.
Now, with the knowledge of hindsight, we can safely say that this "moonshot" bet may be remembered as one of the most spectacularly wrong-headed wagers placed by an "institutional" crypto trader in the history of the nascent virtual currency market. And considering that a not-insignificant number of buyers paid $20,000 for a bitcoin (which was trading below $4,000 on Thursday), there has been quite a bit of competition for that dubious distinction.
Because as Bloomberg reminded us on Thursday, these options will expire worthless in about two weeks (barring a stunning recovery rally of 2,000% which...never say never).
Fortunately for Paul, the losses from this trade aren't quite as disastrous as 100% derivative loss would suggest. That's because, as Paul revealed during an interview with CNBC one year ago, BlockTower offset the risk from its OTM options bet by selling some of its bitcoin holdings in the spot market. Paul said the trade allowed him to hedge against losses while locking in some upside from bitcoin's torrid rally, with the added bonus of winning a big payout should bitcoin rocket higher.
One bitcoin was trading at roughly $16,200 when Paul purchased the options on LedgerX (the exchange said the trade remains the largest ever placed on its platform).
"These calls let me capture upside while reducing my downside risk," Paul told CNBC. He later tweeted that the trade - selling some of his Bitcoin holdings while buying the call options - was profitable.
Listen to Paul's interview from December 2017 in full below: