Docksway landfill site in Newport, Wales, has a hard drive buried amidst the mud and refuse which contains a ‘digital wallet’ worth an estimated £4m.
Owner James Howell threw out the hard drive from his defunct Dell laptop, which broke when he spilled lemonade on the machine, when he was clearing out his desk earlier this year. However, last Friday he realised that it held a digital wallet with 7,500 Bitcoins, which he created for almost nothing back in 2009 when the currency was generally unheard of. A few months after Bitcoin’s launch in 2009 it was relatively easy to create money with computer know-how.
At the time he obliviously threw them away, the 7,500 Bitcoins on the hard-drive were worth around £500,000. Since then, the cryptocurrency’s value has soared, passing $1,000 on Wednesday afternoon.
That lost hard drive, though, contains the cryptographic “private key” that is needed to be able to access and spend the Bitcoins; without it, the “money” is lost forever. Initially Howell was able to set up the program and generate cash when the currency was only used by Tech savvy users however he forgot about his currency stash until Bitcoin resurfaced at the forefront of recent news.
Unfortunately Howell had not backed up the hard drive in question.
The Welsh landfill site is around the size of a football pitch and workers at the site suggested to Howell that something from three or four months ago would be buried three or four feet down.
Despite having to resign to the fact that he may never retrieve the hard drive gain access to the fortune Howell remains optimistic about Bitcoin. The unlucky Howell continues to believe, as he did four years ago, that Bitcoin is the future of money. “I still think it’s going to go higher. I just think it’s the next step of the internet, which is why I mined it in the first place. When I first came across it, I knew straight away. We had everything else at the time; Google, Facebook, they were already the market leaders in their areas. The only thing that was missing was an internet money.”