No key, no millions – The beautiful stories of lives changed thanks to Bitcoin (BTC) are many, but not all BTC millionaires are happy, far from it.
Some even despair every day of their lives: losing access to the private key of their old wallet makes their fortune totally… virtual.
7002 Bitcoins blocked on a USB key
The stories of today’s unfortunate Bitcoin „owners“ come from a New York Times article titled „Lost passwords preventing millionaires from accessing their Bitcoin fortunes“.
The first of them is Stefan Thomas, a computer programmer who – in 2011 – stored the private access key to his 7002 Bitcoin wallet on an IronKey, a kind of secure USB key that requires a password.
Our man unfortunately lost the paper where he had written down the password for this key several years ago. The particularity of this security device is that its contents are irretrievably and irrecoverably encrypted after 10 wrong password attempts.
Stefan Thomas has now had 8 unsuccessful attempts…
Just 2 more mistakes and he will lose forever access to the equivalent of over $238 million today.
„Then I would go to the computer with a new strategy in mind, and it won’t work, and I’d be desperate again… I got to the point where I thought, „Leave it in the past, just for your sanity. »
Old computers that have undermined thousands of BTCs
The second unlucky one was Brad Yasar, an entrepreneur who owned a few desktop computers containing significant amounts of bitcoin (they numbered in the thousands). He had mined them with these same computers, when it was still possible, that is, at the very beginning of the creation of the network by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Problem: he also lost the passwords to access the vast majority of his computers‘ wallets. Today, he has only kept the hard disks from these old computers, which he keeps preciously, even if their bitcoins are for the moment lost in limbo.
„Over the years, I would say that I have spent hundreds of hours trying to find access to these wallets (…) I don’t want to be reminded every day that what I have now is only a fraction of what I could have had (…).
According to the Chainalysis company data cited in the article, of the 18.5 million bitcoins created to date, about 20% would be lost or blocked, i.e. not far from 130 billion dollars…
Being your own bank is not necessarily an easy thing. The system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, which is in itself infallible so far, seems to have the bad memory and the careless side of human beings as indirect flaws.