BURIED TREASURE: IT worker accidentally threw away laptop that could now be worth £74MILLION in Bitcoin.
James Howells was an early convert to the technology long before Bitcoin, dubbed ‘digital gold’, became all the rage, its value soaring some 1,400 per cent since the start of the year
A BRIT who accidentally threw away his computer containing digital currency Bitcoin says his stash would be worth at least £74million if found today.
It was even reported that the twin brothers who sued Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook are now billionaires after investing their lawsuit winnings in Bitcoin
James Howells, 32, from Wales, was an early convert to the technology long before Bitcoin, dubbed “digital gold,” became all the rage.
The 32-year-old began “mining” Bitcoin – a complex process – on his laptop in 2009. He mined 7,500 bitcoins which he saved in a wallet file on his computer hard drive.
Four years ago he threw out an old computer on whose hard drive were the ownership codes of his 7,500 Bitcoin stash, worth around $700,000 at the time.
Just 12 months ago one coin was worth $732, but it’s now worth $11,000 (£8,584).
And James has estimated that his portfolio is now worth $107,919,144 – or £74million.
However he cannot access it, as the hard drive was dumped in a landfill in Newport, Wales, when he threw away his computer by accident.
A large-scale manhunt for the hard drive from locals bidding to claim it as their own is pointless, too, because bitcoin accounts are protected by a “private key”.
The private key is a password known only by James, and should be die without telling it to someone else the money would forever go unclaimed.
He told the Telegraph: “After I had stopped mining, the laptop I had used was broken into parts and sold on eBay.
“However, I kept the hard drive in a drawer at home knowing it contained my Bitcoin private keys, so that if Bitcoin did become valuable one day I would still have the coins I had mined.
“In mid-2013 during a clear-out, the hard drive – then worth a few hundred thousand pounds – was mistakenly thrown out and put into a general waste bin at my local landfill site, after which it was buried on site.”
Experts are convinced the sky is the limit for Bitcoin.
Wences Casares, a member of PayPal’s board of directors, recently speculated it could even hit a million dollars per coin inside a decade.
James added: “In the future I easily see it being worth anywhere from $500m (£270m) to $1billion.”