The managers of a London-listed investment trust have made over US$1bn from buying and selling bitcoin in less than a six-month period.

Ruffer Investment Company Ltd (LON:RICA) was one of the first UK investment institutions to take a large position in cryptocurrency when it bought up a big stake in mid-December.

At the time, the trust told investors it has poured £550mln into the digital coin, equivalent to around 2.7% of the funds under its management.

Fund manager Hamish Baillie and Duncan MacInnes said at the time the decision was “primarily a defensive move”, made by reducing its exposure to the traditional haven asset of gold.

They said investing in Bitcoin was a “small but potent insurance policy against the continuing devaluation of the world’s major currencies”.

Potent it certainly turned out to be.

At the time of the purchase, Bitcoin was trading shy of $20,000.

The pair then watched their investment steadily rise above US$30,000 and then soar past US$40,000 when Tesla’s statement that it had bought the digital currency to hold in treasury.

The Ruffer team held their nerve as Bitcoin’s price sailed past US$50,000 and headed yet higher, before selling out of their entire position close to the cryptocurrency’s all-time high of above US$63,000 in mid-April.

This meant they escaped the dramatic crypto sell-off over the following weeks that sent the Bitcoin price all the way down to US$30,000.

The investment made Ruffer around US$1.1bn, according to the Sunday Times.

“The bitcoin exposure was put into the portfolio as a defensive investment, to add diversification to our inflation hedges.

“Its strong rise thereafter reflected increased institutional and retail interest, and as it hit all-time highs in April we judged its asymmetry to be much lower (and importantly the threat to gold to be lower too).

“With more attractive risk-adjusted positions elsewhere in the market we sold the remaining exposure,” the pair said in their monthly investment trust update today.