updated 06:57 pm EST, Thu November 28, 2013
Hard drive with 7,500 bitcoins lost in landfill
An IT professional in the United Kingdom is scouring a landfill site for a specific computer part he threw away, along with a bitcoin fortune. James Howells of Newport, South Wales, disposed of the drive without realizing the value of its contents earlier this year, with the 7,500 bitcoins on the drive worth around $7.5 million at the currency's present value.
Howells told the BBC that he had stored bitcoins he acquired by mining in 2009 on a computer, but later had to dismantle the machine after an accident. Left in storage for three years, Howells had forgot about his cache of bitcoins, and threw the drive away earlier this year. After hearing about a Norwegian man cashing in enough bitcoins to buy an apartment, Howells realised his mistake, and after failing to find a backup, he traveled to a landfill site that the drive would have been sent to in an attempt to get it back.
"The manager explained that things sent to landfill three or four months ago could be three to five feet deep" said Howells, with the region the drive would be held within estimated to be the equivalent size of a soccer pitch. "He confirmed my worst fears when he said that." The manager also mentioned that police searching for evidence would do so using machinery, dogs, and a team of up to 20 people, leading Howells to believe that there is little chance of him getting the drive back without there being some outlay of funds.
The value of Bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent times, with the Washington Post reporting that prices on the Mt. Gox exchange has exceeded $1,000 for the first time. In early November, the price per coin was closer to $200.