If we talk about Bitcoin, I’m sure the name James Howells doesn’t sound like anything to you. Logical, since he is not a recognized investor, an evangelist of cryptocurrencies or someone who has become a billionaire thanks to them. Although, in reality, only a mistake a few years ago and a few tons of garbage prevent it from being part of this last list. Something that, unfortunately, he is aware of each and every day of his life.
We can know the story of James Howells in the New Yorker, and it is a story that makes you pull your hair out. And it is that back in 2013, when the value of Bitcoin began to grow (it reached a price of 1,000 dollars at the end of that year), Howells accidentally got rid of a hard drive that, according to Howells, among other digital assets it contained no less than 7,500 bitcoins. Yes, you read correctly, to the change at this time we are talking about 329,871,747.60 euros.
Since then, however, Howells hasn’t given up his fortune in the form of an accidentally discarded Bitcoin wallet. For some time he has been offering multi-million dollar rewards in exchange for being able to recover his treasure, and he has even contacted the authorities of the Welsh municipality in which he resides, and which corresponds to the management of the landfill in which the hard disk ended up, which, Since then, it has robbed this tech worker of sleep.
And the thing that has deprived him of sleep is not a way of speaking. According to himself, not a single day of your life goes by that you don’t think about it and, in his own words, “To be honest, it destroys my soul […]. Every second of the day I am thinking about what could have been. Because, of course, it is impossible not to have something like this very present. Imagine having had a Bitcoin wallet with such an amount (I remember, 7,500), losing it by accident and, from that moment, seeing how its revaluation looks like a graph of ascent to the Himalayas.
His plan to recover the hard drive with the Bitcoin wallet goes through excavating a landfill 250 meters wide and 250 meters long by approximately 15 meters deep. In other words, 937,500 cubic meters of garbage. Something to which the local authorities, even faced with the possibility of obtaining a large extra income if he allows it and the search is successful, flatly refuse, despite attempts at persuasion by Howells, due to the terrible environmental effects that could have such an operation.
This story, of course, reminds us Another of the inherent risks of Bitcoin and the rest of cryptocurrencies, and that is the risk of losing a digital asset by accident. In some cases these stories have a happy ending, but in others, as he points out that this will be the case of this Welsh citizen, it does not seem that a turn of events will take place that will allow him to recover his fortune in Bitcoin format. Losing a storage medium has never come at such a high price.