HODL for Thee, But Not for Me
Documenting the network of wallets Alex Mashinsky used to dump millions of $CEL tokens, netting over $40 million in proceeds
There are no rules in this business. - Alex Mashinsky
Several months ago, I published a short article examining token sales by the founder and CEO of Celsius Network, Alex Mashinsky. Mr. Mashinsky had allotted himself a vast number of Celsius’ proprietary $CEL token during the creation of the firm. He had also, to the chagrin of the Celsius “community,” sold a lot of those tokens. I discovered that out of just one wallet, Mashinsky had sold at least 1.4 million CEL tokens over several months in 2021. I also noted that based on data published by Celsius in their “Top 500 HODLer” list of the largest CEL accounts, it appeared that Alex and his wife Krissy may had sold as many as 20 million CEL tokens.
However, the full extent of his sales has not been revealed… until today.
Due to public revelations by Mr. Mashinsky, we uncovered a network of wallets that appears to be under his direct control. Some of these wallets were involved in the earliest transfers of CEL tokens. One of the wallets, as we have shown previously, was used by Mr. Mashinsky to participate in multiple ICO rugpulls. All told, these wallets have seen nearly 200 million CEL pass through them en route to various destinations. Alex Mashinsky owned at least 77 million CEL tokens in 2019. At least 19 million were sold either via the Liquid exchange or through decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like Uniswap. Alex was a major liquidity provider for CEL markets on DEXs using these wallets.
All told, it appears Alex Mashinsky may have netted over $40 million from selling CEL out of these wallets. These sales do not include possible sales by his wife, Krissy Mashinsky, whose purported CEL ownership decreased from 15 million to 5 million tokens per Celsius’ published data. Additionally, Alex Mashinsky may have sold additional tokens using other wallets not connected to the network we uncovered, perhaps directly to exchanges like FTX.
It’s Elementary, My Dear Mashinsky
So how did I find this network of Alex Mashinsky’s wallets? It turns out that Mr. Mashinsky himself shared information that definitively links him to six key wallets within the larger network:
The Giant Deposit Wallet (0x34f30e54): ~$100,000 in sales
On 8/22/2019, Mr. Mashinsky tweeted that he had made a “small deposit” of 76,999,000 CEL tokens to Celsius Network. This was equivalent to approximately 11% of CEL token total market cap:
It turns out that only one wallet, 0x34f30e5, made a deposit of this size to Celsius on that date. In turn, 0x34f30e5 had been initially funded by wallet 0x15eaF5c and had received 70,000,000 CEL from this same address. Going upstream one step further, and 0x15eaF5c was initially funded by 0x11729acC, a wallet which we had previously identified as controlled by Mr. Mashinsky.
Wallet 0x34f30e5 also made a transfer of 1 million CEL tokens to the Liquid exchange, which at the time hosted the largest market for CEL tokens. These would have been worth approximately $100,000 at the time of transfer.
The Rugpull Wallet (0x11729acC): $1 million sales
We previously identified 0x11729acC as a probable Mashinsky wallet due to multiple factors. First, it had processed a transfer of 80 million $CEL tokens on 05/22/2018. Second, this wallet had provided the initial funding for a known Mashinsky wallet (0xc33192B, “NFT Wallet”) and had sent over 4.8 million $CEL tokens to this address. Finally, the Rugpull Wallet participated in three scam initial coin offerings (ICO’s) which Mr. Mashinsky has publicly disclosed his role in: Sirin Labs, MicroMoney, and Tie Network.
In addition to sending millions of CEL tokens downstream to other wallets, 0x11729acC also transferred 6.3 million CEL tokens to the Liquid exchange. Based on their value on date of transfer, those tokens were worth approximately $1 million.
The Mashinsky NFT Wallet (0xc33192B): ~$12 million sales
Previously, we had identified this wallet as a likely Mashinsky wallet due to its connections to other known wallets. However, this wallet was confirmed by Mr. Mashinsky: 0xc33192B holds the “Mashinsky NFT,” currently serving as Mr. Mashinsky’s Twitter profile picture:
For anyone unfamiliar with how this works, to link an NFT as your Twitter profile picture, you must be in control of the wallet that holds the NFT. Thus, we can be certain that 0xc33192b belongs to Mr. Mashinsky!
Incidentally, it turns out that 0xc33192b also sold over 6 million CEL tokens via decentralized exchanges (DEXs), netting proceeds of approximately $12 million USDC:
The Whale Liquidity Provider Wallet (0xf716F34): $21 million in sales
This wallet had 95 million CEL tokens pass through it in May 2018, then was dormant until September of 2020. It then received a small transfer of Ether from 0x33c192b to cover transaction fees. Subsequently, 0x716F34 received 78,000 CEL from 0xc33192b, one million CEL from Celsius core wallet 0x90e5e0a, one million CEL from Celsius Wallet 6, and one million CEL from FTX. It also received 1,300 Ether from 0x2a0203 (see below).
0xf716F34 swapped out at least 2.4 million CEL tokens, netting some $21 million in proceeds from DEXs. This address was also a major liquidity provider for CEL token, depositing and withdrawing large quantities of both CEL and Ether to the Uniswap CEL token market.
The 19,000 CEL wallet (0x6d27BA): ~$8 million in sales
This wallet was previously identified as Mr. Mashinsky’s due to another Twitter post by the CEO:
As noted in a previous article, this tweet led to the discovery of wallet 0x6d27BA as a likely Mashinsky-controlled address. Also, this wallet was initially funded by 0x33c192b. This wallet pulled over 2 million CEL from Celsius Wallet 6 and a second Celsius-controlled wallet, selling nearly all of the tokens via DEXs. The address netted over $8 million in USDC and Ether from these transactions.
Addendum: After initially publishing this article, an astute reader noted that this wallet received a transfer of 966,000 CEL from a core Celsius wallet on October 7, 2021. Five days later, Celsius announced their major funding round had completed with Westcap and the CDPQ…
The USAstrong Wallet (0x23cE21): $300,000 in sales
Possibly the last wallet used by Mr. Mashinsky to sell CEL tokens, 0x23cE21 received its first transfer of Ether from 0x6d27BA. Additionally, it is one of only four addresses that hold the “USAstrong” token, apparently a defunct component of Krissy Mashinsky’s USAstrong.io company (Alex’s wife).
This wallet received one million CEL from Celsius Wallet 6, selling approximately 370,000 CEL via DEXs and netting ~$300,000 USDC:
Other Wallets in the Mashinsky Network
In addition to the above wallets with undeniable and direct links to Mr. Mashinsky, there are several others connected within this network via multiple transactions:
0xd50061: $2 million in sales
-Initially funded by 0xc33129
-Received 100,000 CEL from 0x11729; 550,000 from 0xc33129
-Removed 349,000 CEL liquidity from Uniswap
-Swapped 1.03 mil CEL, received ~$2 mil USDC
0x2a0203: At least $530,000 in sales
-Funded by 0xd50061
-Received CEL from 0xf716F34cb
-Sent ether to 0xf716f34cb
-Swapped 550,000 CEL
-Net 530,000 USDC, 1,300 Ether from swaps
From these findings, I estimate that Alex Mashinsky netted at least $40 million by selling CEL tokens over the course of his tenure as Celsius Network CEO. These sales were not publicly disclosed in any kind of detail; indeed, it seems that Mr. Mashinsky’s few public statements regarding his CEL token transactions were deliberately vague and designed to imply he had only sold a small quantity of tokens. At the same time he made these sales, Mr. Mashinsky was privy to material nonpublic information about CEL token, including Celsius’ planned purchases of those tokens on the market. One has to wonder what the SEC’s attitude towards these transactions will be!
While his customers “HODLed” their CEL tokens, or even used those tokens as collateral for loans, Mr. Mashinsky was quietly offloading millions of CEL. He continued selling well into the last days before Celsius Network “paused” withdrawals, with his last known sale (out of the “USAstrong” wallet) on May 25th of 2022.
The above list of wallets may not be a complete picture of Mr. Mashinsky’s CEL transactions. It is possible that additional purchases or sales were made via direct transfers from Celsius Network wallets to FTX or other centralized exchanges. In any case, it seems clear that he made millions from slowly selling these tokens, far more than he would have by “rugpulling” early in the project. It was a long con, a profitable ploy, but I expect these sales may come back to haunt him in the future…
Note: All flow diagrams were generated using the excellent tools at explorer.bitquery.io!