A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022 (2023)

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 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.

Haha nice #bitcoin crash to 0.01 USD/BTC. http://t.co/jNx8rAr

— Who Knows? ₿⚡️ (@who_knows) June 19, 2011

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.

A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022 (1)

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.

The general sentiment around Bitcoin was mainly negative until August 2015, when the trend started a long-term reversal. Amid the strong bullish market, Bitcoin eventually returned to the $1,000 price mark in January 2017. This was the longest all-time high price recovery period in the history of Bitcoin.

Bear market No. 3: Bitcoin plunges below $3,200 after hitting $20,000 in December 2017

Time to retest previous high: 36 months (December 2017–December 2020)

After recovery to $1,000 in January 2017, Bitcoin continued to rally to as high as $20,000 by the end of that year.

However, similar to Bitcoin’s previous historical peak of $1,000, the triumph of $20,000 was short-lived, as Bitcoin subsequently dropped and lost more than 60% of its value in a couple of months.

The year 2018 quickly became referred to as a “crypto winter” as the Bitcoin market continued shrinking, with BTC bottoming at around $3,200 in December 2018.

The crypto winter kicked off with security issues on Coincheck, another Japanese cryptocurrency exchange. In January 2018, Coincheck suffered a gigantic hack resulting in a loss of about $530 million of the NEM (XEM) cryptocurrency.

The bear market further escalated as tech giants like Facebook and Google banned ads for initial coin offerings and token sales ads on their platforms in March and June 2018, respectively.

Global crypto regulation efforts contributed to the bear market as well, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejecting applications for BTC exchange-traded funds.

A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022 (2)

Bear market No. 4: BTC slumps from $63,000 to $29,000 in 2021

Time to retest previous high: six months (April 2021–October 2021)

Bearish sentiment dominated the crypto market until 2020, when Bitcoin not only came back to $20,000 but entered a massive bull run, topping at higher than $63,000 in April 2021.

Despite 2021 becoming one of the biggest years for Bitcoin, with the cryptocurrency passing a $1 trillion market cap, Bitcoin also suffered a slight drawback.

Shortly after breaking new all-time highs in mid-April, Bitcoin drew back slightly, with its price eventually dropping to as low as $29,000 in three months.

The mini bear market of 2021 came amid a growing media narrative suggesting that Bitcoin mining has a problem related to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).

The global ESG-related FUD around Bitcoin had been exacerbated even further with Elon Musk’s electric car firm Tesla dropping Bitcoin as payment in May, with the CEO citing ESG concerns. Just three months later, Musk admitted that about 50% of Bitcoin mining was powered by renewable energy.

The cycle of FUD pic.twitter.com/OC8kGXAUSd

— Lina Seiche (@LinaSeiche) June 20, 2021

The bear market didn’t last long despite China starting a major crackdown on local mining farms. The bullish trend returned by the end of July, with Bitcoin eventually surging to its still-unbroken all-time high of $68,000 posted in November 2021.

Bear market No. 5: Bitcoin plummets from $68,000 to below $20,000 in 2022

Time to retest previous high: to be determined

Bitcoin failed to break $70,000 and started dropping in late 2021. The cryptocurrency has slipped into a bear market since November last year, recording one of its biggest historical crashes in 2022.

In June, the cryptocurrency plunged below $20,000 for the first time since 2020, fueling extreme fear on the market.

A brief history of Bitcoin crashes and bear markets: 2009–2022 (3)

The ongoing bear market is largely attributed to the crisis of algorithmic stablecoins — namely the TerraUSD Classic (USTC) stablecoin — which are designed to support a stable 1:1 peg with the U.S. dollar through blockchain algorithms rather than equivalent cash reserves.

USTC, once a major algorithmic stablecoin, lost its dollar peg in May. The depegging of USTC triggered a massive panic over broader crypto markets as the stablecoin had managed to become the third-largest stablecoin in existence before collapsing.

The collapse of Terra caused a domino effect on the rest of the crypto market due to massive liquidations and uncertainty that fuelled a crisis in cryptocurrency lending. A number of global crypto lenders like Celsius had to suspend withdrawals due to their inability to maintain liquidity amid brutal market conditions.

Bitcoin has historically seen its price trade below previous highs for more than three years. The previous peak of $68,000 took place just seven months ago, and it’s yet to be seen whether and when Bitcoin would return to new heights.


What happened with Bitcoin in 2009? ›

The New Liberty Standard Exchange recorded the first exchange of Bitcoin for dollars in late 2009. Users on the BitcoinTalk forum traded 5,050 bitcoins for $5.02 via PayPal, making the first price mediated through an exchange a bargain basement price of $0.00099 per bitcoin.

When was Bitcoin last bear market? ›

In the bitcoin bear market of 2018-2019, the price gravitated to around $6,000 until finally capitulating to $3,200 and staying there for months. And in the bitcoin bear market of 2022-2023, the price gravitated to around $28,000 until finally capitulating to $16,000 and staying there for months.

What is the history of the Bitcoin bear market? ›

Bitcoin entered a huge bear market rapidly after breaking $1,000 for the first time in history, with the BTC price tumbling below $ 700 one month later. The price dropped as Chinese financial institutions started a crackdown on Bitcoin in 2013, prohibiting monetary establishments from conducting BTC transactions.

What is the biggest crypto crash in history? ›

The Biggest Crypto Crashes in History
CryptocurrencyDateEnding Price
$LUNAMay 2022$0.0001
BitcoinFebruary 2014$360
$BCCJanuary 2018$8
FTT (FTX token)November 2022$0.87
2 more rows

What caused Bitcoin to crash? ›

The slump in November 2022 was triggered by the collapse of FTX, which handled around $1 billion transactions each day. Its collapse is having a knock-on effect on other crypto exchanges. In June 2022 bitcoin dropped below $20,000 for the first time since 2020.

What caused the big Bitcoin crash? ›

High inflation and tighter monetary policy affected crypto investors as well, resulting in the collapse of the market.

What is the biggest drop in Bitcoin? ›

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%.

How do you survive a Bitcoin bear market? ›

In this article, we will discuss some strategies that can help you survive a crypto bear market.
  1. Don't Panic. The first thing to do during a bear market is to avoid panic. ...
  2. Diversify Your Portfolio. ...
  3. Keep an Eye on Market Trends. ...
  4. Use Dollar-Cost Averaging. ...
  5. Keep a Long-Term Perspective.
Mar 24, 2023

What months will Bitcoin bear? ›

June 2022 became the worst month for Bitcoin since September 2011, its monthly losses amounted to 40%. The asset also posted its biggest quarterly losses in the last 11 years. However, the current market sell-off will not cause Bitcoin to crash, and bear markets will only last until 2022.

How long is the average bear market Bitcoin? ›

Bear markets tend to be short-lived.

The average length of a bear market is 292 days, or about 9.7 months. That's significantly shorter than the average length of a bull market, which is 992 days or 2.7 years.

Why is crypto crashing? ›

What can cause a crypto crash? Crypto prices can be dramatically affected by major events, such as exchanges or coins crashing. They can also sink with higher interest rates, rising inflation and other macroeconomic factors that can affect how confident people feel investing their money in risky alternative assets.

Who lost the most in crypto crash? ›

Zhao was followed by FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who lost a reported 23 billion dollars in only three weeks prior to his arrest over conspiracy and fraud charges in late 2022. Despite his losses, Zhao was still the wealthiest individual in the crypto world as of December 2022.

How many times has Bitcoin crashed? ›

Since its 2009 launch, Bitcoin's price has tumbled more than 50% six times.

What was the worst crypto collapse? ›

7 biggest crypto collapses of 2022 the industry would like to...
  • Axie Infinity's Ronin Bridge hacked. ...
  • TerraUSD/LUNA collapse. ...
  • Three Arrows Capital collapse. ...
  • Voyager Digital's fall. ...
  • Celsius crash and liquidity crisis. ...
  • FTX collapse. ...
  • BlockFi bankruptcy.
Dec 26, 2022

What was the value of 1 Bitcoin in 2009? ›

Bitcoin was originally worth next to nothing. The transaction that first gave Bitcoin monetary value was in October 2009, when Finnish computer science student Martti Malmi, known online as Sirius, sold 5,050 coins for around INR 414.65, giving each Bitcoin a value of $0.0009 each. The exchange took place on PayPal.

What if you invested $100 in Bitcoin in 2009? ›

The value of Bitcoin rose to ten cents in 2010 and so if you'd invested then you'd also have potentially made a mint by now. For example, $100 would've bought you about 1,000 Bitcoins which, at Thursday's high would've been worth more than $48m - assuming you'd held onto the asset the entire time.

What if I invested $10,000 in Bitcoin in 2010? ›

A small Rs 10,000 investment made in the digital currency bitcoin in 2010 would have increased 66,00,000%, netting the investor a cool Rs 66 crore. In 2010, bitcoin—the cryptocurrency that had then come into being only a year back—was valued at the average of USD 0.06 or Rs. 2.85.

How did people get Bitcoin back in 2009? ›

Once Nakamoto released Bitcoin's software in January 2009, there were only two ways to obtain bitcoin — by mining it yourself or arranging a peer-to-peer (P2P) trade via a forum like Bitcointalk, which Nakamoto founded to host Bitcoin-related discussions.


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