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Winklevoss twins amass huge Bitcoin haul as bubble bursts

Tyler, left, and Cameron Winklevoss are big supporters of digital currency Bitcoin.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

The Winklevii are back, and this time they’re not talking about Facebook.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss -- the Harvard twins who have argued for years that Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from them -- this week told the New York Times that they had massive holdings, at one point valued at $11 million, in virtual currency Bitcoin.

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The public backing by two widely recognized players in the tech world, combined with Bitcoin’s soaring -- and now crashing -- value, has forced the secretive digital money into the spotlight.

Bitcoin is known as the world’s first decentralized digital currency and was created four years ago by someone (or possibly more than one person) known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Owners can buy and sell the currency, transfer it to others via the Internet and use it to buy digital and physical goods (although that is still in the early stages).

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Bitcoin has been of particular interest this month as the dollar value of the virtual currency skyrocketed from $25 just two months ago to $266 on Wednesday.

But since then, Bitcoin’s value has plummeted as the bubble burst for the highly speculative currency. The coins were trading for as low as $54.25 on Friday, meaning the Winklevii have taken a huge hit on their investment.

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Then again, when the twins first bought into Bitcoin last summer, the dollar value of the digital currency was in the single digits. And, with their multimillion-dollar settlement with Facebook, they can certainly afford some ups and downs in the market.

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