In the mid-2013 an IT worker from Newport threw away 7,500 Bitcoin in the garbage, which is estimated- at the current market rate- to be worth over $140M USD.
James Howell was a successful Bitcoin miner. He had started mining Bitcoin when Bitcoin wasn’t even worth a cent! Bitcoin miners get a certain number of Bitcoins for their effort to solving Hash Functions. James Howell had accumulated almost 7,500 Bitcoins since he started mining back in February of 2009.
At that time, the market value of Bitcoin was not as high as it is today. So, there was a sense of uncertainty regarding its future value. James Howells already had 7,500 Bitcoins in his wallet. But after his girlfriend started complaining about the noise coming from the Bitcoin mining hardware, he stopped. But even if he stopped he was already a millionaire.
Unfortunately, later in the coming months, he spilled lemon juice on his Dell Laptop which he used to mine those bitcoins. The laptop that he used for mining the bitcoins was later dismantled and sold on eBay. But he kept the hard disk to himself. The hard disk had the Bitcoin Wallet file. This file is necessary to access your Bitcoin Wallet. He kept it in a drawer. It was lying in the drawers safely, protecting the Bitcoin Wallet folder. But then the miner put the last pin in his coffin. He threw it out!
Since then he moved to a new home and also had two kids. And due to the resulting indifference towards Bitcoins, he decided to get rid of the hard disk.
The idea that you have tossed roughly 140M USD in the garbage bin, brings guilt and frustration at the forefront of your conscious mind. What would any other human do in such a scenario, knowing that they had thrown away 140 Million worth of Bitcoin which now rests on the garbage ditch of Welsh Landfill? Dig it up right? But do you think you can dig up a landfill the size of a Football field? James Howells went himself to see the landfill. One of the workers took him to visit the current ditch that they are working on. That one single ditch was almost the size of a Football field and garbage from three to four months ago would be already three to four feet down.
Now to answer the question that every one of you might have -Is it possible to dig up 5 years of garbage stacked onto each other? Well basically it is, but there is no guarantee that you can retrieve the hard disk in a readable state. The first thing the landfill authority did after collecting the local garbage bins was crushing them together so that they take up less space.This produced various harmful gas in the process which is also flammable. So even if anyone would dare to take up the impossible hunt, they would first have to get clearance from the landfill authority.
The idea of having roughly $140M USD thrown in the garbage is tormenting. But what about ten years from now when Bitcoin can be worth 100 times its current value. Or the equally possible opposite scenario – Bitcoin crash and lose it’s value.
People like James Howell is very important, the early adopter, they are the one who was convinced back then, that Bitcoin is a technology that could change the world, its unfortunate what happened afterward with him, but he has our sympathy!