Man Who Threw Away a Fortune in Bitcoin Now Looking to Dig Up a Landfill

Image: AP
Image: AP

James Howells is a British IT worker and an early investor in Bitcoin. He also has every right to be the most furious man on Earth.


You see, Howells got in on the ground floor of the cryptocoin economy back in February of 2009. Through his computational labors, he amassed around 7,500 bitcoin before his girlfriend, fed up with the noise of block-mining hardware, made him stop. No great loss—the Silk Road was two years away and bitcoin was worth next to nothing.

Most of the equipment he was using was sold for scrap after he spilled lemonade on it, and the hard drive containing the key to his digital wallet sat in a drawer for three years before passing into its final resting place: the trash.

Near the tail end of 2013, Howells took stock of the crypto markets and began to regret his hasty cleaning decisions. At that time bitcoin’s market cap was beginning to climb, and his 7,500 lost coins were worth a few million. Four years later and he still—understandably—hasn’t let it go. One bitcoin is currently valued at $11,500, making the small fortune Howells sent to a landfill a considerably larger fortune of over $80 million. Jokingly (we think), he asked The Guardian in 2013, “Why aren’t I out there with a shovel now?”

With a few years to reflect on that undertaking, he now seems fully invested in digging up a huge plot of five-year-old dirt and garbage, risking “dangerous gasses and potential landfill fires” to recover a laptop hard drive that may or may not function. The report from the Independent does not make clear if Howells even knows specifically which trash hole his millions are located in.

We fully expect new information to surface about Howells another four years from now, when bitcoin is either worth ten times its current value or absolutely nothing at all.

[Telegraph, Independent]

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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/



we’re not talking about some pirate treasure preserved in a chest in the bottom of the ocean or hidden inside some elaborately constructed temple in the middle of a jungle. It’s a 2.5" hard drive that’s sat under a landfill trash pile for at least 4 years now, all while new trash was being dumped on top of it. It’s gone dude. Gone forever. You’d have better luck trying to brute force decrypt the key to your wallet.