CARDIFF, Wales (CBS DC) – A British man says he threw out a hard drive that had 7,500 bitcoins on it, worth over $7.5 million as of Wednesday.
James Howells of Wales purchased the suddenly skyrocketing Internet currency for almost nothing back in 2009.
He says he likely threw out the hard drive sometime over the summer, and only recently remembered what was on it.
“You know when you put something in the [trash], and in your head, say to yourself ‘that’s a bad idea’? I really did have that,” Howells, who works in IT, told the Guardian.
A few months after Bitcoin’s launch, Howells created a computer program to “mine” the digital currency.
He later spilled lemonade on that laptop, so he dismantled it for parts, keeping the hard drive in a drawer for three years.
The drive contains the cryptographic “key” that is necessary to access and spend the Bitcoins.
Without that key, the “money” cannot be spent and is lost forever.
It was just this past summer that he went through his belongings and threw out the hard drive, thinking it was junk.
When he realized his mistake, Howells searched all his storage devices for a backup copy but could not find one.
Then he went down to the landfill with the idea of digging for it, but was told it’s not as simple as going in with a shovel.
“[E]ven for the police to find something, they need a team of 15 guys, two diggers, and all the personal protection equipment. So for me to fund that, it’s not possible without the guarantee of money at the end.”
But he’s still hopeful that someone may find the hard drive, and split the take with him.
“If they were to offer me a share, fair enough,” he said. “If they were to go out and find it for themselves … it’s my mistake throwing the hard drive out, at the end of the day.”