Man Makes Desperate Plea to Search the City's Waste - and Finally Claim His $273 Million

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)


Call it an upscale dumpster dive.

Would you take the plunge?

In 2013, a man in the UK threw some stuff away.

Among the worthless waste: a hard drive.

North Wales resident James Howells is recently regretting having given his gear to the garbage.


It turns out the disk contained his only copy of a cryptographic key — the passcode allowing him to access a Bitcoin boatload.

The 35-year-old once invested, despite the iffiness.

That uncertain seedling is now worth nearly $280 million.

Howells would welcome it to his wallet, were he only able to withdraw it.

He’d surely be dopamine-drunk from the deposit, but the password stands between him and his hooch.

As reported by TDW, James still harbors hope:

“There is a good chance the platter inside the drive is still intact. Data recovery experts could then rebuild the drive or read the data directly from the platter.”

And that’s why he’s petitioning the government.

The drive purportedly sits somewhere in a public landfill, which he can’t excavate without permission.

However, the city council’s given him the NOKAY.

Speaking to CNBC, the assembly went ape over the odds:

“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.”

But James is willing to pay, and he’s (possibly) good for it: The would-be filthy rich Brit — whose ticket to titanic wealth is filthy, too — has offered the city roughly $70 million to let him find his long-forsaken Cash Kingdom key.

Back to the council, per a spokesperson:

“The council has told Mr Howells on a number of occasions that excavation is not possible under our licencing permit and excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area.”


Still, James hankers for a hunk o’ hundreds of millions.

He posed his plan to CNN:

“[It] 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.”

The investor lamented to CNBC, “Without even having heard our plan of action or without being given a chance to present our mitigations to their concerns regarding the environment, it’s just a straight up ‘no’ every time.”

Over the last few years, Bitcoin has brought on some big bucks.

But some of the cryptocurrency’s rich revolutionaries are in poor positions.

In the words of the Wire:

According to estimates from Forbes, a handful of cryptocurrency pioneers currently have a net worth exceeding $1 billion solely from their cryptocurrency investments. Others, while not Bitcoin billionaires, still have amassed cryptocurrency fortunes worth millions or even hundreds of millions.

But there are also millions of Bitcoin that appear to have been lost or otherwise inaccessible to their owners. The New York Times reports that, of the 18.5 million Bitcoin in existence, about 20% of them appear inaccessible. Currently, Bitcoin trades at $36,084, meaning the world’s lost Bitcoin is valued at over $130 billion.

For more, see my recent coverage of Stefan Thomas — if he could recall his password, he’d access a $220 million fortune.


He’s down to two tries.

As for James, there’s no need to take on such a terrible task alone. For a small commission, I’m sure there are untold crews of concerned citizens willing to Triple-Lindy themselves right into a place of HAZMAT-ish health-department-defiling help.

On a personal note, if this article leads them to James for the win, I’ll take a considerable cut, too.

Thanks in advance.



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