UK Man Offers Council $72M if He Finds Discarded Bitcoin Trove at Landfill

The town of Newport in Wales could get a hefty reward if the treasure is found in the trash.

Jan 14, 2021 at 12:49 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:56 a.m. UTC

A U.K. IT engineer who mistakenly threw away a hard drive with around £210 million (US$288 million) of bitcoin on it is asking the local government once again to allow him to search the local landfill for his device.

  • James Howells dumped the hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoins back in 2013, and has had several requests to search the landfill denied. However, this time he is offering the local government in Newport, Wales, a reward of 25% of the bitcoin on that hard drive, which he said would go to a Covid Relief Fund for the city's residents, reports the South Wales Argus.
  • "It’s quite a lot of money still sat there in the landfill," Howells told the publication, adding he would like to present an "action plan" to retrieve the physical hard drive.
  • Bitcoin prices have climbed from $10,000 to $41,000 over the past three months. The price of bitcoin was at $38,417 at the time of publication, so this now makes the stash worth an estimated $288 million and the loss of his hard drive that much more painful.
  • A spokeswoman for the Newport City Council told the Argus: “Even if we were able to agree to his request, there is the question of who would meet the cost [of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste] if the hard drive was not found or was damaged to such an extent that the data could not be recovered."
  • Recently ex-Ripple Labs CTO Stefan Thomas shared his story with the New York Times about a digital wallet he is unable to access because he forgot his password, leaving his multimillion-dollar fortune in limbo.
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