Man offers city $72M to dig up accidentally discarded Bitcoin fortune

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James Howells, the owner of a discarded 7,500 Bitcoin (BTC) hard drive, has asked again to dig up a landfill and possibly restore the device.

Back in 2013, Howells accidentally threw away a hard drive with 7,500 BTC while cleaning his house. The Bitcoin supply came from Howell’s mining activities when it was still possible to mine Bitcoin / with CPUs.

By November 2013, the bitcoin was already valued at $ 6.5 million on the hard drive, and Howell has tried to restore it since then.

According to the Newport Daily tabloid, the South Wales Argus, Holler has now filed a new appeal for the right to dig up a landfill in the city.

After successive rejections by Newport City Council, Howells has increased the stake and offered 25% of the value of the lost Bitcoin as a COVID-19 relief donation to the city. At the current price of Bitcoin, the hard drive holds nearly $ 290 million, which means the city could make about $ 72 million if the hard drive is successfully restored.

According to Howells, he only needs access to the landfill data records in order to determine the exact network location of the hard drive for a targeted search in the system. The IT engineer also announced that the search team would create an airtight seal to prevent the release of toxic landfill gases during excavation.

Commenting on the ability to recover useful data from the hard drive, Howells noted:

“There is no guarantee of that [it still working] because of the environment it was in, but there are things that give me confidence. The outer case may be rusted. However, the inner hard drive that the data is stored on should have a good chance of continuing to work. I think there will be another chance. But the longer this takes, the less likely it is. “

However, Newport City Council officials say the environmental risks associated with the excavation are significant, given the likelihood the exercise will not bear fruit. Should the data not be recoverable, council officials say the city would have to pay the bill.

In the meantime, Howells is ready to transfer funds to an escrow account to help cover the costs of the excavation.

Howells is one of many Bitcoin owners who have lost access to their funds over the years. In 2012, Campbell Simpson, a former Gizmodo editor, also ditched a 1,400 BTC hard drive valued at $ 53.6 million.

From lost private keys to accidentally sending BTC to burning addresses, up to 20% of the currently circulating supply can be lost forever. According to data from the cryptanalysis provider Chainalysis and the on-chain aggregator Glassnode, the number of Bitcoin lost is between 3 and 3.7 million “coins”.

Recently, a student was fortunate enough to be able to recover the private keys for a wallet containing 127 BTC, valued at $ 4.8 million.