Former journalist Derek Rose invested his life savings in cryptocurrency.
Former journalist Derek Rose invested his life savings in cryptocurrency.

From $500k a day to losing $9m

A FORMER journalist has revealed how he lost nearly $9 million in the Christmas crash after pouring his life savings into cryptocurrency, saying he lost "more money in bitcoin than most people will earn in a lifetime".

Derek Rose spoke to Stuff.co.nz's Superfad podcast about his rollercoaster ride, which began with an investment of just $70,000. Writing for the website, he revealed how at one point in late 2017, he was making up to half a million dollars a day.

"At the top of the market in mid-December, my account was worth over $US7 million [$AU9 million] and I had borrowed $US14 million [$AU18 million] to buy more cryptocurrencies," he wrote.

"I was paying thousands of dollars a day in interest, but for each $US1000 rise in bitcoin's value, I was making about half a million dollars. And in those heady days, bitcoin was making $US1000 gains every other day."

Rose said he originally bought 10 bitcoin back in 2013 but sold them for around $500 to pay off debts. While bitcoin has more than halved in value since its December peak of just under $US20,000, at its current price of around $US8000, those 10 bitcoin would be worth $US80,000.

"Around May of last year, when bitcoin topped $US2000 and another cryptocurrency called ethereum hit $US400, I decided that while I had made a big mistake, there was still time to rectify it," he said.

"A wild idea hit me - cash out my entire US retirement account and put it into cryptocurrency. As a journalist, I had never made a lot of money, but I had been very good at saving up to 10 per cent of my salary, starting when I was in my early twenties."

Bitcoin has more than halved in value since December. Picture: Jack Guez/AFP
Bitcoin has more than halved in value since December. Picture: Jack Guez/AFP

In a few weeks in November and December, Rose said he turned $US70,000 into almost $US3 million by placing leveraged bets on EOS and Iota. "My first moves were smart, involving patience and careful research," he said.

"But rather than take profits and, say, buy a house, I bought more bitcoins on the same mysterious website I was using, called Bitfinex.

"And that bet paid off as well, at first. I bought half a million dollars in bitcoins when they were less than $US8000, only to see their value rise to over $US14,000 in a few short days. So I bought more (and more). And just about every cryptocurrency I could buy on margin on Bitfinex."

Rose recalled his response when one friend advised him to cash. "I want to own a sports team though," he texted back. "And have a yacht. These things add up quickly." He described the rush of testosterone and adrenaline he got from checking his portfolio multiple times each day.

"And that's what it was really about - the thrill," he wrote.

"It was so exhilarating, knowing I was risking huge amounts of money. I don't really think buying cryptocurrencies is like gambling - it's a valid investment in a groundbreaking technology - but I've got to admit there were some parallels."

Rose said while the start of 2018 had been a terrible for cryptocurrency valuations so far, if there was another boom like last year, he could still make back his $9 million by the end of the year. "This time, I hope, I'll be smarter about it," he said.

frank.chung@news.com.au


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