The price of a bitcoin reached $19,850 today, beating the 2017 record of $19,783. It's since dropped to $19,268.
The 2017 price surge has been attributed to an influx of Asian speculators, followed by a drop when people realized that bitcoin wasn't good for making everyday purchases. The recent increase is a result of people, including institutional investors, who think of bitcoin as a superior form of gold bullion.
From The New York Times:
Buyers — led by American investors, including companies and other traditional investors — are treating Bitcoin as an alternative asset, somewhat like gold, according to an analysis from the data firm Chainalysis. Rather than quickly trading in and out of it, more investors are using Bitcoin as a place to park part of their investment portfolios outside the influence of governments and the traditional financial system, Chainalysis and other industry firms said.
"It's a very different set of people who are buying Bitcoin recently," said Philip Gradwell, the chief economist at Chainalysis, which analyzes the movement of cryptocurrencies. "They are doing it in steadier amounts over sustained periods of time, and they are taking it off exchanges and holding it as an investment."