Many early Bitcoin investors have lost access to their funds owing to misplaced keys or storage devices. James Howells, for example, has been seeking the hard disk with his Bitcoin for the past eight years. In 2013, James dropped his hard disk containing Bitcoins into a landfill by accident. The hard disk contains 7500 BTC, making it worth around $357 million. As a result, he is now requesting permission to search the dump for his hard drive.
That quantity of Bitcoin would have been worth 665 thousand dollars at the moment he tossed out the hard drive (500 thousand pounds). It would have made him a millionaire today, as it is worth a total of $357 million.
Howells detailed how he had been looking through the landfill, which is roughly the size of a football field, in an interview with The Guardian in 2013. “I had a word with one of the guys down there, explained the situation. And he actually took me out in his truck to where the landfill site is, the current ditch they’re working on. It’s about the size of a football field, and he said something from three or four months ago would be about three or four feet down,” Howells elaborated.
Howells appeared resigned to losing the digital riches following first scavenging efforts for the misplaced hard disk. He has, however, recently enlisted the support of locals in Newport in his search for the device. Anyone who can help him find it, he claims, will be given millions — assuming the hard disk is still readable. The 35-year-old also volunteered to give 25% of any future finds — around $70 million — to a “Covid Relief Fund” in his hometown.
Unfortunately, it’s possible that the missing hard disk will never be retrieved. According to a CNBC report from earlier this year, Howells’ request to rummage through the trash with a group of volunteers was recently denied by the Newport City Council due to environmental worries about the impact of unearthing so much garbage.
Howells isn’t the only cryptocurrency owner who has experienced a similar setback. The New York Times estimated earlier this year that around $140 billion in Bitcoin had been “lost” due to owners forgetting their passwords from the cryptocurrency’s early days or never backing up their wallets.