How $280 Million Worth Of Bitcoin Ended Up In A Landfill

We all make mistakes. Some, however, are far more birdbrained than others. For example, all of us who didn't buy Bitcoin a decade ago are kicking ourselves in the behinds now that the still widely misunderstood digital currency — or cryptocurrency, as it is called — has reached all-time highs in 2021. Gadgets 360 reports that the cryptocurrency reached an all-time high of just under $65,000 in May 2021. (For a little perspective, Investopedia notes that Bitcoin saw a stellar 3,200 percent jump in price in 2011, from $1 to an annual high of $32. So yeah, we all should have bought some Bitcoin back then.)

Of course, no matter how daft one's decisions may be, chances are that there's always someone out there who did something even more boneheaded, providing us with the consolation prize of being able to say that at least we didn't do that. Such is the case of English IT engineer James Howells. He had the prudence to purchase some Bitcoin back when it was down at more terrestrial prices, but then he went and committed an unfortunately absentminded mistake, and is now kicking himself now that those numbers have gone to the moon.

Howells petitioned his town council to let him search the landfill for his Bitcoin

According to CNBC, James Howells, 35, said that he made a really dopey move when he accidentally threw away an external hard drive containing what would now be a fortune in Bitcoin while cleaning out his Newport, Wales, home in 2013. He said that he confused the valuable hard drive with another one of the same make and model, and although Bitcoin is digital, he needs the "private key" stored on the hard drive in order to be able to access it. Howells claims that he had a total of 7,500 Bitcoins on his hard drive, which would be worth hundred of millions of dollars today.

The Bitcoin price has historically been extremely volatile, and saw huge moves during the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of CNBC's reporting, his mislaid Bitcoins were worth around $280 million. At the coin's all-time high, he would have had nearly half a billion dollars. At the time of publication of this article, his untouchable fortune was worth around $388 million.

Howell has petitioned his local town council to let him rummage through the landfill in search of the crypto fortune several times since 2013, but his entreaties have consistently been denied. Even after he offered to donate a quarter of the potential haul to start a local COVID-19 relief fund, the council continued to cite environmental and financial reasons for declining his petition.