Man Accidentally Threw Away Bitcoin Fortune Worth $108 Million, Says He's "Pretty Zen" About It
When the price of bitcoin hit $10,000 on Wednesday, many in the cryptocurrency community celebrated the milestone. But for one man in Wales, bitcoin’s boom has a taken on a very different significance.
James Howells, 32, made the headlines in 2013 after it emerged he had accidentally thrown away a computer hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoins—at the time it was worth around $4 million. The hard drive now sits buried beneath trash in a landfill site near his home in Newport, Wales.
Following bitcoin’s recent price surge, the contents of the IT specialist’s missing hard drive are now worth $108 million at the time of writing, if other cryptocurrencies on the hard drive are also taken into account.
“I’m always aware of the bitcoin price,” Howells tells Newsweek. “ I always knew this [the price rising] was going to happen… In my opinion, bitcoin hasn’t had its ‘Facebook moment’ yet. Imagine the price when it does. That would make my hard drive worth $1 billion or more.”
Howells first mined the bitcoins—a process of using computing power to confirm bitcoin transactions on bitcoin’s public ledger, the blockchain, in order to generate new units of the currency—on a Dell laptop in February 2009. The following year he disassembled the computer into parts and stored the hard drive in a drawer at his home. It remained there until 2013, when he mistakenly threw it into a general waste bin at his local landfill site, during a clear out.
More than four years of trash have since been dumped on top of the hard drive, meaning any salvage operation would be both costly and time consuming. Despite making several requests to the local council, Howells is yet to be granted permission to look for the missing treasure.