One Man’s Hard Drive Holds 75 Million Dollars in Bitcoins. It’s Also Buried Under Several Tons of Trash
Imagine opening your bank account one day and seeing you had $75 million dollars in it and then finding out that you don’t have access to those funds. That’s sort of the situation that James Howells finds himself in. Howells started collecting Bitcoins before the cryptocurrency took off earning 7,500 coins. Later on, he threw the hard drive away, forgetting what was on it.
Now that the coins have skyrocketed in value, Howells is attempting to persuade the Newport city council to grant him permission to search for the hard drive. So far, he’s had no luck. If it is approved, then it would be the first dig of its kind conducted in the U.K. that isn’t part of a criminal investigation.
“I haven’t actually tried to search for the hard drive yet as I haven’t been given permission to look despite having financial backing in place and engaging the local council a number of times,” he told Wired. “Digging up a landfill is not as easy as just digging a hole in the ground.”
A representative of the city council said that authorities had been contacted in regards to the dig, but, as of right now, were unwilling to proceed. Their reasoning is twofold. For starters, the dig would cost millions of dollars and could cause severe environmental damage. Secondly, there is no guarantee that the hard drive could be found or if it will even work if it is found.
“It is likely that the hardware would have suffered significant galvanic corrosion due to the presence of landfill leachates and gases,” the spokesperson said.
Despite the city council’s, reluctance, Howells remains hopeful. He believes that as the value of Bitcoin rises, the council will have no choice, but to give him permission. He has also promised them a “nice percentage as a gift or donation.”
While Howells can’t retrieve the Bitcoins, he still has access to the public address so he knows the coins have not been moved. If he did have access to the coins, he says he would have sold some of them, but kept the majority in Bitcoin as he expects the currency’s value to grow.
“Who knows for sure… honestly I probably would have sold 30 per cent or 40 per cent at around $1,000 in 2013 to invest in property and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and kept the rest in bitcoin,” he said. “I know for sure I would not have sold them all because I believe the bitcoin price will be much higher than $10,000 long term. Even $100,000 is a conservative figure.”
Eric is an avid tech junkie, gamer, and comic fan. When he's not working on his PC, you'll find him at your local comic book shop.