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Man whose lost bitcoins are worth $85 million wants to retrieve them from a landfill site

By midian182 · 14 replies
Dec 5, 2017
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  1. Following a very brief drop in price earlier this week, Bitcoin’s valuation is back above the $11,500 mark, so imagine if you had owned 7500 BTC, worth over $85 million, but accidentally threw them away. That was the scenario faced by British IT worker James Howells back in 2013; now, he wants to dig through a landfill site in the hope of finding his missing millions.

    Howells was one of Bitcoins early investors. When he amassed the cryptocurrency in 2009, it was almost worthless. After his girlfriend became sick of the noise generated by his constant mining, he gave up digging for more bitcoins.

    “After I had stopped mining, the laptop I had used was broken into parts and sold on eBay. However, I kept the hard drive in a drawer at home knowing it contained my Bitcoin private keys, so that if Bitcoin did become valuable one day I would still have the coins I had mined,” he told the Telegraph.

    Unfortunately, family life and moving home meant Howells forgot about the hard drive. Then, in mid-2013, it was mistakenly thrown away during a clear-out. It was placed into a general waste bin at his local landfill site, where the drive ended up buried.

    By the end of 2013, the coins were worth a few million. Now that their value is closing in on the $100 million mark, Howells has decided to risk landfill gasses and fires to recover his digital wallet key from the site it’s occupied for the last five years. Hopefully for him, the drive will still work. “It’s a big, expensive and risky project,” he said.

    A report from Chainanalysis last month estimated that nearly 4 million bitcoins could be lost forever, most of which come from coins mined in the technology’s early days when they were almost worthless and people were less vigilant about keeping them, much like Howells.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2017
  2. Ean Mogg

    Ean Mogg TS Enthusiast Posts: 84   +33

    HOORAY ,,,,Seen this about him in a local paper looking in a local tip when the amount he had was worth about a million pounds which was a lot then for this false currency but £85 million I'm shocked the price of this false currency .... and how is he going to sell them now the price is at a level that makes it impossible to buy by normal folk and billionaires who own lots I bet are trying (like fake adverts saying to invest) like anything to get rid of these bloody things as they ain't like gold lol ....hope he finds it and sells them but I doubt he'll get what they are worth .. don't be greedy mate take a cut but don't be stupid ^_~
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,206   +2,668

    WOW ... just a few observations:

    1. ALWAYS back up your hard drive, no matter what
    2. Never think there is not the opportunity for a new "gold rush", even if it is in a dump
    3. Would it be cheaper for him to buy the entire dump, then sell it with the bit coins as an inducement?
  4. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 268   +261

    He would have to have the cash or be able to raise it before even considering buying the dump.
  5. ZackL04

    ZackL04 TS Maniac Posts: 393   +194

    Problem is, its no longer his property. The owner of the land fill can do what they want with the drive
    TheBigT42 likes this.
  6. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,934   +1,247

    A hard drive buried in a dump for nearly 5 years?

    There's no way. I'd put the odds of finding a dinky hard drive buried for 5 years in a dump - and still in a recoverable condition - at more than being struck by lightning (which is 1 in 700,000).
  7. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 710   +480

    So, is this his new full time job, sifting garbage with an iron will (because you know on that drive is a gazillion pounds) while his friends and family all drift away as the years go by LOL
    BSim500 and wiyosaya like this.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,919   +1,432

    This is a new concept in crypto-mining: Dumpster Diving for Bitcoin.
  9. MadKnight

    MadKnight TS Rookie

    Now imagine if he actually found it and got all those bitcoins back. Man, his girlfriend, if she is/remains as his girlfriend, won't hear the end of it. Hell, she won't go to sleep without the sound of a pc mining if it meant she can get her hands on those ~$100 millions...
  10. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 268   +148

    I am thinking a remake of the movie Holes
  11. Tommis

    Tommis TS Member

    After 7500 BTC "injection" into the market, bitcoin's price would probably "reach" it's 2013 value…
  12. EEatGDL

    EEatGDL TS Evangelist Posts: 601   +276

    Injection? Dude, the BTC are in the network, he just doesn't have the key to access them. A wallet has a private key and password to access it, like a bank account.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,847   +3,250

    Instead of sifting through the entire dump, maybe he could fish the metal drive out with an electromagnet.....;)
    Wut? :confused: I know what you're thinking, but wouldn't you have to lift the drive seven times for it to be scrubbed to government standards? :D *nerd*
  14. Abraka

    Abraka TS Addict Posts: 173   +53

    "After his girlfriend became sick of the noise generated by his constant mining, he gave up digging for more bitcoins."

    He should have ditched the girlfriend, not the hard disk.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,847   +3,250

    I would have traded her in for a girl with the last name".jpg", in a heartbeat...;)

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