A Welsh IT worker who lost a hard drive containing thousands of Bitcoins now thinks his mistake has cost him £74 million.
James Howells’ fortune is buried deep below thousands of tonnes of rubbish on a landfill site in Newport. He chucked out the hard drive in 2013, forgetting that it contained the cryptocurrency which even then was worth ‘a few hundred thousand pounds’.
When the story hit the news in 2013, his hard drive was worth £4 million.
But one Bitcoin was worth more than £8,700 (or $11,000) on Sunday night after its price surged by 1,000 percent since the start of the year.
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.
“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.’ But James said he’s not ‘crying about it’ and added: “Accidents happen. I just get on with it.
I’ve always known Bitcoin would go this high and I’ve always known the value of the hard drive would go up. ‘In the future I easily see it being worth anywhere from $500m (£270m) to $1billion.’
This week the currency ballooned to its highest value yet and James is seeking permission from Newport council to go looking for the laptop in the landfill. He believes he can pinpoint the laptop’s location by estimating its depth based on the date it was thrown away.
James added: ‘The higher the value goes, the more chance I have to recover it so it’s just been a waiting game for the past few years – waiting until the bitcoin price was high enough to make the drive a juicy enough treasure to hunt.’