A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022

A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022

by Ras Vasilisin
11. July 2022
A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022

Bitcoin (BTC) experienced one of its most brutal crashes ever in 2022, with the BTC price plummeting below $20,000 in June after peaking at $68,000 in 2021.

June 2022 has become the worst month for Bitcoin since September 2011, as its monthly losses mounted to 40%. The cryptocurrency also posted its heaviest quarterly losses in 11 years.

However, the current market sell-off doesn’t make Bitcoin crashes and bear markets exclusive to 2022. In fact, Bitcoin has survived its fair share of crypto winters since the first Bitcoin block, or the genesis block, was mined back in January 2009.

As we zoom out the Bitcoin price chart, Cointelegraph has picked up five of the most notable price declines in the history of the seminal cryptocurrency.

Bear market No. 1: Bitcoin crash from $32 to $0.01 in 2011

Time to retest previous high: 20 months (June 2011–February 2013)

The Bitcoin price broke its first major psychological mark of $1.00 back in late April 2011 to start its first-ever rally to hit $32 on June 8, 2011. But, the joy didn’t last long, as Bitcoin subsequently plummeted in value to bottom at just $0.01 over the course of a few days.

The sharp sell-off was largely attributed to security issues at the now-defunct Mt. Gox, a Japanese crypto exchange that traded the majority of Bitcoin at the time. The exchange saw 850,000 BTC stolen due to a security breach on its platform, raising major concerns about the security of Bitcoin stored on exchanges.

With BTC losing about 99% of its value in a few days, Bitcoin’s June 2011 flash crash became a big part of Bitcoin history. The event opened a long period before the BTC price recovered to the previous high of $32 and climbed to new highs only in February 2013.

It’s difficult to track the pre-2013 Bitcoin price when compared to more recent charts. Popular price tracking services and sites like CoinGecko or CoinMarketCap do not track Bitcoin prices before April 2013.

“Bitcoin was very much in its infancy pre-2013 and there were not that many places trading Bitcoin back then,” CoinGecko chief operating officer Bobby Ong told Cointelegraph. He added that CoinGecko has not received many requests for pre-2013 data, so it is low on the priority for the platform.

Bear market No. 2: Bitcoin tanks from $1,000 to below $200 in 2015

Time to retest previous high: 37 months (November 2013–January 2017)

According to BTC price data collected by Cointelegraph, Bitcoin price reached $100 in mid-April 2013 and then continued surging to briefly hit $1,000 in November 2013.

Bitcoin entered a massive bear market shortly after breaking $1,000 for the first time in history, with the BTC price tumbling below $700 one month later. The price drop came as the Chinese central bank began to crack down on Bitcoin in late 2013, prohibiting local financial institutions from handling BTC transactions.

The cryptocurrency continued plummeting over the next two years, bottoming at around $360 in April 2014 and then dropping even further to hit a low of $170 in January 2015.

Bitcoin price chart April 2013–January 2017. Source: CoinGecko

The long cryptocurrency winter of 2014 became associated with the hacked Mt. Gox crypto exchange, which halted all Bitcoin withdrawals in early February 2014. The platform then suspended all trading and eventually filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo and in the United States.

Some major financial authorities also raised concerns about Bitcoin, with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission claiming that it had power over “Bitcoin price manipulation” in late 2014.

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