A British IT worker named James Howells is reportedly offering a 25 percent cut of his lost 7,500 Bitcoin fortune to the Welsh city of Newport if it allows him to excavate a landfill where he dumped the hard drive containing the Bitcoin treasure trove in 2013. The 7,500 Bitcoins are worth about $275 million at current prices, meaning the city stands to gain more than $70 million if the hard drive is found.
Business Insider reports that in 2013, a British IT worker named James Howells threw away a hard drive containing a digital wallet with around 7,500 Bitcoins in it. At the time, the cryptocurrency was relatively worthless, but as of today, one Bitcoin is worth about $37,000.
Howells’ Bitcoin is now worth around $275 million. Howells has offered the city council of Newport, Wales, a 25 percent cut of his Bitcoin if it allows him to excavate a landfill site where he believes the hard drive was dumped.
Howells told CNN: “I offered to donate 25% or £52.5 million ($71.7 million) to the city of Newport in order to distribute to all local residents who live in Newport should I find and recover the bitcoins.”
Howells added: “Unfortunately, they refused the offer and won’t even have a face-to-face discussion with me on the matter.”
Howells mined the Bitcoins himself over four years when they were worth very little and recalled throwing the hard drive away between June and August 2013, believing he had already backed up the hard drive. When the price of a Bitcoin hit $1,000 Howells realized he had made a mistake.
Howells visited the landfill where he dumped the hard drive and initially believed that he had “no chance” of retrieving the drive, but now has a new plan.
Howells told CNN:
The plan would be to dig a specific area of the landfill based on a grid reference system and recover the hard drive whilst adhering to all safety and environmental standards.
The drive would then be presented to data-recovery specialists who can rebuild the drive from scratch with new parts and attempt to recover the tiny piece of data that I need in order to access the bitcoins.
However, in a statement to CNN a Newport City Council spokeswoman said that the city was not allowed to excavate the site.
“The council has told Mr. Howells on a number of occasions that excavation is not possible under our licensing permit and excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area,” she said. “The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds — without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order.”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org