Finder’s fee for lost bitcoin: €60 million
A British man who accidentally threw a hard drive loaded with bitcoin into the garbage has offered the local government where he lives more than $70 million if it allows him to excavate a landfill site.
IT mechanic James Howells got rid of the hard drive, which held a digital store of 7,500 bitcoins, between June and August in 2013. He had originally mined the virtual currency four years earlier when it was of little value. But when the cryptocurrency shot up in value and he went to look for it, he discovered that he had mistakenly thrown the hard drive out with the trash.
Bitcoin worth around $273 million
Now, with his lost bitcoin exploded in value, Howells has approached Newport City Council in Wales to ask for approval to dig a specific section of the landfill site where he believes the hard drive ended up. In return, he has offered to pay the council a quarter of the current value of the hoard, which he says could be distributed to local residents.
The cryptocurrency was created in 2009 by an anonymous computer programmer or group of programmers known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoins are essentially computer files that are stored in a “digital wallet” on your device. They can then be used as payment, with every transaction being recorded in a public list known as blockchain.
The price of bitcoin hit an all-time high in recent days and is now trading around $37,000.
Howells first discovered that the hard drive was missing when his bitcoin was worth around $9 million. Based on the current rates, he estimates it would be worth around $273 million.
“The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating all the waste, could run into millions of pounds – with no guarantee of finding the hard drive, or that it is in working order,” the municipality’s spokesman wrote to CNN.
He told CNN: “I offered to donate 25% or £52.5 million ($71.7 million) to the city of Newport in order to distribute to all local residents who live in Newport should I find and recover the bitcoins.”
“This would work out to approx £175 ($239) per person for the entire city (316k population). Unfortunately, they refused the offer and won’t even have a face-to-face discussion with me on the matter.”
But the municipality’s governors are cold-blooded, not least because it is highly uncertain in what condition the hard drive would be if it were found.