The man who founded the cryptocurrency Ripple briefly became the fifth wealthiest person in the world as the digital dosh surged in value this week.
But Chris Larsen’s place at the very top of the rich list proved to be very brief after Ripple (which is also called XRP) dropped in price and he slipped back down the list again to end up in about 15th place.
The ebb and flow of Larsen’s fortunes demonstrates the volatility of cryptocurrency markets, which are notorious for featuring more ups and down than The Alps.
He is unlikely to feature on official rich lists because of the extreme price rises and drops which characterise Bitcoin, Ripple and other cryptocurrencies.
Ripple was created by Larsen and Jed McCaleb, the founder of bitcoin exchange Mt Gox.
Its value surged by 35,000 percent during 2017 – way higher than the 1,200 percent growth of Bitcoin.
That means £100 invested in Ripple in January 2017 would have grown to more than £35,000 by the start of this year.
Its value surged this week from about $2.30 to a high of $3.84, before sliding again to about $3.20 at the time of writing.
On Thursday, Larsen was worth about $59 billion, up from $37.3 billion on Monday, due to the 5.19 billion XRP stash he is alleged to hold and a 17 percent stake in the cryptocurrency.
Ripple’s price was on the rise due to rumours it would soon start trading on CoinBase, a popular, easy to use app which lets users buy and sell Bitcoin, LiteCoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum.
However, the price rise came to an abrupt halt and shifted into reverse when CoinBase denied it was planning to take on new cryptocurrencies.
In a blog post, it wrote: ‘We have made no decision to add additional assets to… Coinbase.
‘Any statement to the contrary is untrue and not authorized by the company.’
Of course, Larsen’s immense wealth is not quite the same as Zuckerberg’s because it relies on the price of Ripple staying high.
If he were to begin selling off his nest egg, there is a risk that the price could crash and his riches could vanish into thin air.
‘This is beyond insane,’ Jeremy Gardner, an investor who used to work at the virtual currency hedge fund Blockchain Capital, told The New York Times.
‘There’s absolutely nothing driving this rally except rampant FOMO [fear of missing out], misinformation, and speculation.’