In 2013, this Welshman claims to have mistakenly thrown a hard drive containing the private key of 8000 bitcoins into the landfill of his municipality. He now has a plan out of a sci-fi scenario to get it back.
Ten years later, he still does not let go. James Howells, a 36-year-old Welshman from the city of Newport, wants to recover at all costs his 8000 bitcoins lost in 2013.
He claims that he had at that time two hard drives, one blank, the other containing the private key of his 8000 bitcoins mined in 2009. Bad luck: the one containing this famous private key was inadvertently thrown in the dump of his municipality. The current value of its crypto-assets is over $170 million.
An 11 million dollar plan
For years, this Welshman has faced Newport City Council’s refusal to dig into the landfill to recover his hard drive, for cost and environmental reasons. Almost ten years later, having seen the price of bitcoin soar over the period despite the recent crypto-crashes, he still does not despair.
The latter mentioned a plan in Business Insider, which seems to come out of a science fiction scenario. With two possible scenarios: one, which consists of excavating more than 110,000 tons of waste for three years at a cost of 11 million dollars (two Swiss investors would have agreed to finance this plan, if it is validated by the municipal council ), the other would cost $6 million and take 18 months.
To achieve this, James Howells intends to surround himself with 8 specialized experts: from sorting assisted by artificial intelligence, through the excavation of landfills to waste management. Among the experts would even be “an adviser who worked for a company that recovered data from the black box of the crashed space shuttle Columbia”. Robot dogs would also be part of the operation, which will be filmed 24 hours a day. James Howells firmly believes in his plan, estimating that if the “platter” of his hard drive is not damaged, there is up to a 90% chance of recovering his data.
“His proposals present a significant ecological risk”
“After the excavation, the trash would be cleaned up and recycled as much as possible, Howells said. The rest would be reburied,” Howells told Business Insider. This does not seem to be enough for the municipal council.
“His proposals present a significant ecological risk, which we cannot accept and which the terms of our permit prevent us from considering,” a councilor told the media.
If the famous hard drive were to be found, James Howells explained that he would keep 30% of the assets, that a third would go to the recovery team, 30% to investors and the rest to local causes.
James Howells seems to want to go through with the process. In case of refusal of the municipality, he says he is ready to attack the local authority considering that his actions constitute an “illegal embargo” on the hard disk.