On the final day in his insurance job last week after 14 years in the sector, Donnie wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a rocket logo, the symbol for bitcoin, and the slogan “to the moon”. The phrase, one that characterises the fervour espoused by bitcoin enthusiasts who say its price knows no bounds, was fitting.

Over five years, the 39-year-old has made enough money from trading digital currencies to pay off his mortgage, buy a Mercedes, and now swap office life for managing his remaining crypto investments full-time. Receive 4 weeks of unlimited digital access to the Financial Times for just $1.

“It was very euphoric . . . It’s been life-changing for me at this point,” says the California-based father of two, who has a cult-like Twitter following under the pen name bitcoin Dad. Donnie is just one member of a clubby community of early investors in bitcoin who have been able to reap the benefits of its dramatic bull run, cashing out some holdings as its value more than doubled in the space of a month to peak at around $20,000 in mid-December.

He will not reveal his exact returns because his new-found wealth has already left him the victim of hacking and extortion — part and parcel of the freewheeling digital currency marketplace. Six months after its peak, bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency, though its price has sunk to about $7,500 at the time of publication.

It follows that for each of the bitcoin millionaires, there have been numerous casualties; the “get rich quick” punters who entered the market a little too late. “These are people that see something moving up and start buying — they jump on the bandwagon,” says Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University and an investment strategy adviser for Man Group. Read more from cnbc.com…

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