Bitcoin abruptly tumbles as much as 9% to just over $26,000 late Thursday

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Bitcoin slipped sharply on Thursday evening, tumbling by as much as 9% to just over $26,000.

The cryptocurrency last traded at $26,593.68, reflecting a decline of more than 8%, according to Coin Metrics data.

The fall in bitcoin followed several hours after The Wall Street Journal reported that SpaceX, which is helmed by Elon Musk, wrote down the value of its bitcoin holdings by a total of $373 million in 2022 and 2021, and that the space travel company had sold the virtual currency.

“This is one of the most brutal minute-by-minute selloffs we’ve seen in the history of bitcoin,” Ryan Rasmussen, a researcher at Bitwise Asset Management, told CNBC. “The current speculation is it’s an Elon Musk/SpaceX-driven selloff.” He noted that this latest dramatic decline is “short-sighted and largely retail-driven.”

In 2022, Tesla, which Musk also leads as CEO, announced that it sold about 75% of its bitcoin holdings after investing $1.5 billion in the flagship cryptocurrency.

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The billionaire executive has historically been a vocal supporter of crypto.

A recent study found that Musk’s mentions of certain altcoins on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, has boosted the prices of those cryptocurrencies. Back in 2021, speaking at “The B-Word” conference, Musk had also said “If the price of bitcoin goes down, I lose money. I might pump, but I don’t dump.”

Bitcoin had been under pressure earlier, starting after the Federal Reserve issued the minutes from its July policy meeting. In Thursday’s session, the cryptocurrency slumped to its lowest level in almost two months.

—CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel and Sarah Min contributed to this story.

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