What would you do if you found out the old laptop you threw away was now worth $4m?
That’s what happened to poor soul James Howells, who forgot he’d invested in a very small amount of Bitcoin back in 2009, and absentmindedly binned a hard drive contain a digital ‘wallet’ in 2013.
Tragically, James only remembered his purchase following a huge spike in the value of Bitcoin a few months later, and by that time it was far too late.
To his horror, James realised his mistake, and discovered that his laptop – now worth somewhere in the region of £4m – was probably now buried under four feet of rubbish in a landfill site near Newport, Wales.
Bitcoin became the first ever internet-based currency when it was introduced in 2009, but James wasn’t able to access his money from a different device, as his hard drive had contained a unique ‘private key’ which restricted access.
To make matters worse, James had only thrown the Dell laptop away because he’d accidentally spilt lemonade over it.
He spent time at the dump attempting to find the device in the months immediately afterwards, but was eventually forced to end his search as the sheer scale of the landfill site rendered his search unviable.
Speaking to The Guardian at the time, he said: “I’ve searched high and low. I’ve tried to retrieve files from all of my USB sticks, from all of my hard drives. I’ve tried everything just in case I had a backup file, or had copied it by accident. And … nothing.”
Losing such a huge amount of money must be an incredibly tough experience to take, but it actually looks like the loss hasn’t hurt James Howells too much.
He tweeted a video for ‘Let It Go’ back in September of this year, saying: “If I ever find my bitcoin hard drive I might just put it back in the bin… more trouble than it’s worth.”
If i ever find my bitcoin hard drive i might just put it back in the bin… more trouble than its worth 🙄😫 🚶🏻🔫https://t.co/0e1vo8SPj3
— James Howells (@howelzy) September 17, 2016
It’s a pretty tragic story, but it’s not all been bad news for Bitcoin buyers.
In similar circumstances, Norwegian Kristoffer Koch invested 150 kroner ($26.60) in 5,000 bitcoins back in 2009, and forgot about it for a long time.
“I’ve searched high and low. I’ve tried everything just in case I had a backup file”
However, the value spike in 2013 jogged his memory, and he realised he’d a Bitcoin collection worth $886,000 sat in a drawer unused for years.
Bitcoin is still shaping up to be the future of currency online, and it’s still a pretty good time to invest.
Whatever you do though, for god sake, back up your stuff and don’t throw away your old hard drives – it could cost you £4m.