A problem with digital money – throwing away $7.5 million into a landfill

hard driveby jon_a_ross

IT pro says he threw out 7,500 bitcoins, now worth $7.5 million
[Via Ars Technica]

Many people have a tale of a lost or broken hard drive containing some bit of precious data they wish they could recover. But perhaps no one on the planet has thrown out a hard drive as valuable as the one James Howells says is now buried in a landfill.

According to an article in The Guardian today, Howells threw out the hard drive, “rescued from a defunct Dell laptop,” this past summer. “And then last Friday he realised that it held a digital wallet with 7,500 Bitcoins created for almost nothing in 2009,” the story notes.

Howells, an IT pro, says his mistake likely occurred in mid-July, at which time a single bitcoin was worth about $90. Today, the value of a single bitcoin passed $1,000 for the first time, making 7,500 bitcoins worth $7.5 million.
According to The Guardian story, Howells did not have a backup. The drive he allegedly threw out “contains the cryptographic ‘private key’ that is needed to be able to access and spend the Bitcoins; without it, the ‘money’ is lost forever.”


Some of the things we will have to learn about digital money such as bitcoins. The hard drive is the bank, as it were. And like saving $8 million in cash in your mattress, it can accidentally get thrown away.

At least it was not stolen. I mean, $7.5 million in a drive you can carry around? Awfully tempting.

Of course, it could all be BS but a useful story anyway.