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Artist Tempts Bitcoin Enthusiasts with $10,000 Secretly Encoded in Lego Art

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Artist Andy Bauch has rendered artworks made of images generated using real-time virtual wallet addresses. Feeding the string of address letters and numbers through an algorithm produced a series of patterns that Bauch has employed to generated Lego “paintings” that contain the wallet address for anyone to claim the funds in the form of bitcoin.

Every piece of art is a visual representation of a private cryptocurrency wallet key. In a show of art rewarding the buyer, anyone back-working the graphic representation can decipher the formula and thus the key to a stash of digital currency.

A Sign of Blockchain Impacting Artistic Endeavors
The artist began taking an interest in cryptocurrencies in 2013 but says he is not a “rabid promoter” of any particular coin nor the phenomenon itself. Bauch is rather a product of modern digital life distilling in the mind of the artist, producing aesthetically pleasing yet also digitized artworks.

His latest exhibition is being staged at Los Angeles’ Castelli Art Space. Titled “New Money,” the exhibition opened Friday, March 23, 2018. Saying that each individual art piece is “a secret key to various types of cryptocurrency,” Bauch is one of a handful of artists who have played around with cryptocurrency, secret messages, and graphics rendering.

In 2015, @coin_artist revealed a painting allegedly containing $50,000 worth of bitcoin for anyone who could decode the link to a wallet. Known as “The Mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto,” that puzzle remained unsolved until recently when on February 1, 2018, someone solved the riddle and drained the bitcoin wallet.

In spite of some doubt, the creators confirmed that they had not withdrawn the puzzle by sacking the wallet, but that an external user had actually solved the riddle and claimed the funds.Bauch’s Work Spans the Gap Between “New Tech and Humanity”
In preparation for his latest project, Bauch bought some bitcoin, litecoin and other virtual currencies and stashed them in wallets. He then fed the private encryption for each wallet into an algorithm that generated a variety of graphic images for each, from which Bauch chose the most pleasing.

Although he tweaked the process here and there in order to generate images that were both accurate in carrying the encoded information as well as appealing to his sense of aesthetics, he insists the code is decipherable and legitimate. Bauch tested and retested the reverse extrapolation to ensure that someone who figures out the code will be given correct information in the form of a wallet address to claim the contents.

Bauch said that a lot of his work is an attempt to “span this gap that often exists between new technology and humanity.” He enjoys using Lego as a medium as, for him, the final assembly is reminiscent of a highly magnified pixel deconstruction. Bauch is also employing the mass-produced blocks to create another series of portraits of people who have lost their jobs to technology.

The current artwork titles detail what type of digital coin the wallet that is rendered in the piece contains and also a period value of what the relevant currency was worth at the time he created the wallet. There will be a live feed of the market value of each wallet projected during the exhibition.

Art Meets the Digital World
Bauch and the “Satoshi Nakamoto Riddle” creators are not alone in their fascination with cryptocurrencies, although Bauch and others have perpetuated the original altruism and democracy imagined by the Bitcoin project. Another artist who responded to blockchain technology’s impact on the world was Brad Troemel. Probably most well-known for his collaboration with Tumblir that produced “Jogging,” he began including actual “Bitcoin pieces” that were shrink-wrapped into his works some years ago.

In Troemel’s case, the coins were emblazoned with the actual wallet keys and thus whoever bought the artwork immediately inherited the coin values as well. When interviewed about potential buyers of his works, Bauch said that he would “… give them a hint” to aid them in their quest to decipher the code and claim the currency. However, the codes have been cracked already, with a blog post from James Stanley explaining how he cracked the bitcoin keys in the Lego artwork.

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Mexican narcos use bitcoin to ‘clean up’ revenue

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Mexico City.- Criminal organizations such as the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) or the Beltrán Leyva launches illicit proceeds in the United States and the rest of the world through virtual currencies such as bitcoin, the Drug Enforcement Administration assures (DEA , for its acronym in English).

According to the report National Evaluation of Drug Threat 2017, China is a fixed center for money laundering through large shipments of products manufactured in that country, where cryptocurrency is very popular.

‘In previous years, the preferred methods were money transfer systems (…) Today bitcoin and other virtual currencies allow cartels to transfer illicit profits on an international scale,’ the document said.

Last Wednesday the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the DEA created a joint team to combat the financial networks of drug trafficking.

That same day, Alfonso Durazo, future secretary of Public Security, reported that the anti-crime strategy of the next government will prioritize combating the economic resources of drug trafficking over the capture of gang leaders.

The narco prefers bitcoin to wash

According to the DEA, for a couple of years the Mexican cartels have been buying virtual currencies, which they use to purchase products in China that they sell later in Latin America.

For a couple of years cryptocurrency, mainly bitcoin, has become one of the most effective digital platforms to launder drug money, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States is looking for ways to stop this problem that grows every year.

According to the document National Evaluation of Drug Threat 2017, of which Excelsior has a copy, the transnational criminal organizations, where the Mexican women stand out as the Pacific cartel, the Beltrán-Leyva and the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, are being well advised by brokers in the so-called deep web to use virtual currencies and launder illicit profits in the United States and other parts of the world.

‘In previous years, the preferred methods for moving and laundering illicit profits, that is, the smuggling of bulk money, was to use money transfer systems, money laundering based on commerce and the formal banking sector. Today the bitcoin and other virtual currencies allow the cartels to transfer, easily, illicit gains on an international scale, ‘said the document, which is signed by Chuck Rosenberg, who until the end of September 2017 headed the DEA, and then resigned due to friction with the President Donald Trump.

The data shown by the DEA for 2017 show that drug sales in the United States represent around 64 billion dollars, or 21% of the 300 billion dollars in illicit profits generated, currently, by all forms of crime in the United States. this country.

‘Drug trafficking is a very intensive cash enterprise, in dollars, so criminal organizations must overcome several obstacles to successfully launder and spend illicit profits,’ said the report declassified by the authority of that country.

For 2016, according to the analysis of the DEA, California, Georgia and Texas, three of the states with the largest seizures of dollars in bulk to drug trafficking reported seizures of 94.2 million dollars. This amount decreased significantly, by more than 50%, compared to the previous two years.

‘The decrease in seizures is indicative of the use of other more discrete methods of moving illicit money,’ he said.

According to the study Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin: How Much Illegal Activity Is Financed Through Cryptocurrencies ?, published in January of this year, cryptocurrencies are among the largest unregulated markets in the world.

‘We found that approximately a quarter of the bitcoin users and half of the bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal drug trafficking activities. About 72 billion dollars of illegal activities per year involve bitcoin, which is close to the scale of the illegal drug markets in the United States and Europe. ‘

The changes

In 2016, the US authorities reported more than 2,800 incidents of bulk cash confiscation for drug trafficking issues totaling more than 336 million dollars. This meant a decrease of 27% compared to the 464.2 million dollars of the previous year in reported cash seizures.

Since 2010 there has been a steady decrease in the gross amount of bulk cash seizures throughout the United States. ‘This low could be indicative of the use of other more discrete methods to move illicit money such as cryptocurrencies, and could even explain the boom bitcoin has had in recent years,’ several analysts have suggested to the DEA.

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Bitcoin: New way to launder income of Mexican cartels

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Mexico City.- Some of Mexico’s main criminal organizations laundered their profits globally through the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. The above according to the report National Evaluation of Drug Threat 2017, prepared by the Drug Control Administration (DEA).

In this regard, the institution noted that China has become a major center of money laundering, for which large shipments are used from the Asian country, where cryptocurrencies have become very popular currencies.

In previous years, the preferred methods were money transfer systems. Today bitcoin and other virtual currencies allow cartels to transfer illicit profits on an international scale, ‘the report says.
For this reason, the PGR and the DEA decided on Wednesday to form a joint team to combat the financial networks of drug trafficking, a strategy that promises to be more effective than capturing the leaders of criminal gangs.

In previous years, the preferred methods for moving and laundering illicit profits, ie the smuggling of bulk money, was to use money transfer systems, money laundering based on commerce and the formal banking sector. Today, bitcoin and other virtual currencies allow cartels to easily transfer illicit profits on an international scale, ‘the DEA informed.
He added that for 2017 the sale of drugs in the US, represented profits of 64 billion dollars, 21 percent of all illicit money generated in that country at present.

Meanwhile, a second study noted that currently half of the bitcoin transactions are linked to drug trafficking, which means a total of 72 billion dollars. This goes hand in hand with a decrease of 27 percent in cases of confiscation of cash money by drug trafficking.

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Vault Coin (VLTC) Cryptocurrency Daily Volume at $1 as Price Down to $0.000064

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The cryptocurrency market took a massive tumble in the week following the SEC’s announcement that it would postpone its ruling on whether to allow the listing of the Cboe VanEck/SolidX ETF backed by Bitcoin (BTC) to September 30. When all was said and done, the total market capitalization dropped to as low as $189 billion, levels not seen since November of last year.

However, since hitting that low on Tuesday, the market experienced a fairly sizeable altcoin bounce that brought back more than $35 billion in total capitalization. The relief rally intensified late in the week as major blockchain projects announced significant exchange listings, technological milestones, and system updates.

As we head into the next week, investors will likely be keeping their eye on the price action of BTC, as it has been denied by the $6,500-$6,600 range multiple times and currently sits at around 51% market dominance. How BTC acts here will likely be indicative to the next major movement.

Here’s the rest of the week in review:

Binance LCX, a joint venture between Binance and LCX, has announced the launch of an upcoming fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange. Binance is set to provide and maintain the platform, while Binance LCX manages customer support, due diligence, legal requirements, KYC, AML and government communications. Binance LCX plans to build a team of roughly 10-15 individuals to fulfill the venture in their Lichtenstein office.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the founders of crypto exchange Gemini, aren’t overly fazed by the recent SEC decision. Instead, while they wait for Wall Street and the SEC to get on board with crypto, the company will focus on expanding its product offering focused on retail investors.

Toshi, the Ethereum mobile wallet, has recently been rebranded as Coinbase Wallet. The Coinbase-developed app has been revitalized with a new name as the service merges into a larger effort to invest in products set to define the future of the decentralized web.

Bitmain, a leading ASIC chip maker and crypto mining hardware manufacturer, has more than $570 million in Bitcoin Cash (BCH) holdings, according to a pre-IPO investor deck. According to the documents, Bitmain has 1,021,316 BCH, which it purchased at an average price of $869. While this represented a total holding of around $887 million at the time of the statement, BCH has since fallen in value to $573, which means that Bitmain has suffered a ~$317 million loss in a little over a quarter.

This week’s market recovery was primarily driven by gains in VeChain (VET), Ontology (ONT), and NANO (NANO). The AltDex 100 Index (ALT100), a benchmark index for the industry’s leading cryptocurrencies and tokens, finished flat this week and currently sits at 79.40.

AltDex 100
Other cryptocurrency categories were relatively mixed over the last week. The AltDex Exchange Token Index (ALTEXC), a benchmark index for the industry’s leading exchange tokens, fell over 7% while the AltDex Privacy Coin Index (ALTPRV), which tracks tokens focused on privacy or security, is up around 2%. The new AltDex Masternode Index (ALTMSN), which tracks major masternode cryptocurrencies, dropped over 4%.

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