An early user of the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) just reclaimed tens of thousands of Ether (ETH) that he’d locked up in the old ENS registrar over 4 years ago.
Having appreciated substantially since that time, the value of those 39,712 ETH is now worth roughly $74 million.
Reclaiming Old Funds
According to blockchain analysts at Lookonchain, darkmarket.eth was responsible for reclaiming the funds – the largest owner of locked Ether within the old registrar until now.
After reclaiming his funds, the user sent 63,734 ETH ($119 million) to a new wallet.
After 2.7 years of dormancy, darkmarket.eth reclaimed 39,712 $ETH ($74.17M) locked in the ENS auction just now.
— Lookonchain (@lookonchain) July 31, 2023
ENS allows crypto users to assign human-readable names to cryptocurrency addresses, which are otherwise presented as long and complex strings of letters and numbers.
When first launched in 2017, the Ethereum Foundation held an auction in which users could bid their ETH to secure these unique domain names for themselves. This was to incentivize claimants not to immediately try selling their domains for exorbitant prices after claiming them, and instead demonstrate a commitment to the domain they had bought.
That ETH was locked within the original ENS smart contract and would remain that way until users either gave up their domains or the contract itself was updated.
The Old ENS Treasure Trove
The latter occurred in July 2019, allowing users to reclaim their locked ETH without forfeiting their domain. Under the new system, users were only required to pay a small yearly fee to keep their names.
Yet after the upgrade, many of the old registrants had still not claimed their former funds. According to lead ENS developer Nick Johnson, there are still over 100k domains for which deeds remain unclaimed, holding “tens of thousands of ETH.”
“Basically, they bid on (and won) a bunch of names back in ~2016/2017, and when we switched to the new system in 2019, they never released the deeds to claim their locked funds back,” ENS lead developer Nick Johnson told The Block.