The secretive owner of notorious online black market The Silk Road has boasted that his website is now so lucrative that he wouldn’t sell it for “less than 10 figures, maybe 11”.
In a rare interview, the man known as Dread Pirate Roberts said: “As far as my monetary net worth is concerned, the future value of Silk Road as an organisation dwarfs its, and my, liquid assets.”
Speaking to Forbes magazine he described The Silk Road as a “vehicle” for a message of radical libertarianism. “What we’re doing isn’t about scoring drugs or ‘sticking it to the man’,” he said. “It’s about standing up for our rights as human beings and refusing to submit when we’ve done no wrong.”
Launched in 2011, The Silk Road has been described as the “eBay of illegal drugs”’ and sells a range of products from marijuana to heroin. It offers anonymity to its customers through its use of the encrypted Tor browser and the digital currency BitCoin.
The secretive and illegal nature of the site means assessing its finances is difficult, though recent estimates suggest annual revenue of between $30 and $45m. Roberts receives a minimum commission of 10 per cent on all sales, scaling up for larger transactions.
The name ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ refers to the hero in The Princess Bride, a novel that was adapted into a cult 1987 film of the same name. In the story ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ is an inherited title rather than the name of an individual; Roberts says he chose the title after buying the site from its founder.