Imagine being intelligent enough to have accumulated 7,500 bitcoins that at todays prices would be worth over $280 million dollars, yet careless or unlucky enough to be in a situation where you have to beg city officials to let you dig through hundreds of acres of trash site in order to not lose them.
So is the predicament for 35-year old James Howells, an IT engineer from Wales. He said the hard drive that stored all the bitcoin he owned was thrown out when he was cleaning his house back in 2013. According to Howells, he had two identical laptop hard drives, and he mistakenly put the one that contained the cryptographic “private key” which is needed to actually access and use the bitcoins in the trash.
Seeing the price of Bitcoin explode, has no doubt cause the panic and anger to rise for Howells, and he’s convinced himself that he could still recover the bitcoin if the city lets him dig through the landfill. He believes the glass platter located inside the hard drive that stores the data has a good chance of not being destroyed. If he can just find it. “There is a good chance the platter inside the drive is still intact,” he told CNBC. “Data recovery experts could then rebuild the drive or read the data directly from the platter.”
His potential fortune now lies in the hands of his local council. He needs permission to search the garbage dump he believes the discarded hard drive is located in.
He has a genius plan to incentivize the city to allow him to dig. He’s offered 25% of the value of the coins, roughly $71 million if they allow him to search for it and he finds it.
So far the city council has rejected his requests, citing environmental and funding issues. “The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds — without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order,” the council told him.