Updated from 12:12 p.m. EST with current bitcoin value and information on the founding of a New York bitcoin exchange.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For a time Tuesday, bitcoin owners were watching the value of their investments plummet on a tumultuous morning of news regarding one of the digital currency's major exchanges.
The Japan-based Mt. Gox exchange has suspended transactions, according to its Web site. The Web site itself disappeared early this morning. Later, when it reappeared, it carried an announcement that it had been acquired. That message was also taken down. The Web site currently has the following message:
In the event of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox's operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.
The earlier disappearance of the Mt. Gox Web site was accompanied by the public release of a document, allegedly a leaked internal report from the company, titled "Crisis Strategy Draft," that said the CEO Mark Karpeles was stepping down and the company could "go bankrupt at any moment" as the result of previously undetected thefts of bitcoin:
At this point 744,408 BTC are missing due to malleability-related theft which went unnoticed for several years.
At its value this morning, that theft amounts to more than $405 million. During the course of the day Tuesday, the value of 1 bitcoin fell to a low of $418 from $545, according to Coindesk.com. It has stabilized and is currently down 4.6% on the day at $518.84.