destroy life – The British James Howellsnotorious for accidentally discarding a 7500 disk bitcoin, is back. And he has a plan. Robot dogs, venture capital, artificial intelligence… This time, James feels the sickening tide of misfortune might finally be about to turn. And it’s no unruly community and a few vague ecological considerations that will stop him from what is now turning into the quest of his life: finding his lost bitcoins, whose presence he senses somewhere 50 cm beneath his feet.
The name of James Howells can’t tell you anything. And yet how Satoshi Nakamotoof the emergence of belching HODL! Where Bitcoin Pizza Tag, its history is engraved in the young history of Bitcoin. While it’s easy to imagine the person concerned would have preferred to remain in comfortable anonymity, having recognized the full value of Bitcoin before most of us.
As a matter of fact, James Howells started mining bitcoin in 2009, so in the very early days of the queen of blockchains. He is thus a contemporary of S. Nakamoto. As such, he is one of the few industry pioneers and for that alone, he would have earned a special place in the crypto pantheon. Unfortunately, he will go down in history for a very different reason.
In those old days, when that thing was still possible, James minted frantically Bitcoins on his laptop. So it will accumulate 7500 bitcoins, stored on its internal hard drive. A somber tale of a friend unhappy with the noise and heat emitted by the machine, and a squirt of lemonade later, said hard drive is removed, cleaned and stored in an anonymous drawer.
This is where the drama unfolds. On the occasion of a big cleaning, our unfortunate Brit accidentally throws the disc. He is then completely unaware that in doing so he is sealing his fate and ruining his sleep quality for the next decade.
Some time later, during a television show, the young man becomes aware of two things. On the one hand that His 7,500 bitcoins are worth around $650,000. And that on the other side of the hoard rests for some time under a few tons of garbage. You thought you knew the phenomenon of the emotional elevator? Have a compassionate thought for James.
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Bitcoins lost, Newport City Hall is deaf
In 2017, the Journal du Coin already repeated this story, and you can read about the adventures and twists and turns James went through in the years that followed. Various episodes which we summarize by simply mentioning that yes, the community of Newport – the residential community of our dazed bitcoiner – got the point, but no, shoveling someone at random in an industrial, polluted and dangerous environment (the landfill in question covers an area equivalent to several football pitches) was out of the question.
James’ bitcoin jackpot is currently estimated to be around 160 million dollars. Enough to live a dream life instead of nightmare recycling bins and industrial shredders.
Over the years, James’ story has occasionally found new echoes, half amused, half heartbroken by the young computer scientist’s misfortune, according to media interviews. A true ode to the vital necessity of “backing up” (and the dangers of drinking soda in front of the computer). Unfortunately little progress has been made over the years, the community still showing resistance to even the slightest excavation of the site. A site of such magnitude that everyone agreed the research venture would include a redefinition of the terms “needle” and “haystack”, version decentralized economy.
But in 2022 everything could change: James is back! And this time he’s prepared and seems to have managed to pull together a team, significant financial resources and a battle plan. A happy epilogue in perspective?
Digital gold in the trash
In a media interview Business Insider, James describes his plan. And even his plans with different time frames and stakes show he’s matured his strategy (10 years of insomnia probably helped). And the least we can say is that you might as well do it with panache, even if it means making crypto history! On the one hand, James secured the backing of mutual funds, which he was able to convince of his little chance of success (after all, we’ve seen crypto mutual funds make stupid bets, right?).
In order to, Hanspeter Jaberg and Karl Wendeborntwo Swiss venture capitalists have pledged to support the Briton’s initiative with a sum of 11 million dollars.
A sizeable budget, but one that won’t be excessive considering the size of the site. Indeed, we are talking about the prospect of return, sorting and subsequent reprocessing more than 110,000 tons of waste over an estimated period of between 18 months and 3 years. Supporting this excavation were numerous personnel and a special artificial intelligence tracking and triage station capable of recognizing anything that might resemble James’ hard drive.
In order for the picture to be complete, the team of brave ordurologists plans to enlist the services of a few specimens of the Spot robot dog Boston dynamic with the mission to secure the area at night and to take part in the search during the day like veritable new breed truffle pigs.
On top of that, James Howells plans to generously reward the entire team, the community of Newport, but also the entire population of the city (150,000 people after all) with incentives and a generous airdrop from Satoshis. All this, of course, provided that the medium is found and is still usable. A possibility Howells assesses “Probability about 80 to 90%”.
The plan is solid, the motivation obvious, but as of this writing, Newport City Hall has again announced that access to the site and permission to dig are out of the question. A stance that obviously disappoints James, who states that he might consider taking City Hall to court for “illegal embargoing” of its bitcoins… A somewhat crazy stance, but probably not much more so than the entire modern saga that this has not finished building his legend.
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