Bitcoin has grown by leaps and bounds in the years since it was introduced, and those who got in the ground floor stand to make a very good profit — assuming they still have access to those Bitcoins. Unfortunately for James Howells of Newport, South Wales, the hard drive he stored those Bitcoins on is currently buried under a landfill.
In 2013, Howells threw away the old hard drive he had used to mine Bitcoins. Howells quickly realized his mistake, but was unable to recover the hard drive. Now, four years later, Howells’ Bitcoin collection is worth $75 million.
Howells told Wired that he has been in touch with the Newport City Council in an attempt to get permission to dig for his old hard drive, but so far, he’s had no luck.
“I haven’t actually tried to search for the hard drive yet as I haven’t been given permission to look despite having financial backing in place and engaging the local council a number of times,” Howells wrote. “Digging up a landfill is not as easy as just digging a hole in the ground.”
Assuming Howells does get permission to conduct a search, it would be the first dig of its kind authorized in the U.K. that was not done in conjunction with a criminal investigation.
A spokesperson for the City Council said that authorities had been contacted about the dig, but were concerned because such an exercise would cost millions of dollars and could cause a “huge environmental impact on the surrounding area.” Of course, the other major issue here is that there’s no guarantee that the hard drive could be found, or that it will be operational.
Howells says that he believes that, as the value of Bitcoins increase, the City Council will concede to let him dig. If he does find the working hard drive, he has promised a “nice percentage as a gift or donation.”
In the meantime, Howells is keeping an eye on the value of Bitcoin and is monitoring the public address of his account so he knows the Bitcoins have not been transferred. He compared it to seeing your bank account full of millions of dollars that you can’t spend.
For now, Howell’s $75 million worth of Bitcoins remains buried beneath hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage.