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James Howells, Who Threw Away $450 Million in Bitcoin, Hires NASA Expert to Find It

For all the times when you accidentally threw something of value in the garbage, James Howells feels your pain, multiplied by half a billion times. That’s the approximate amount of money he tossed away when he unintentionally discarded a hard drive with 7,500 Bitcoin on it.
$450 million in Bitcoin are located in a landfill in Wales, but owner still hopes for recovery 6 photos
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James Howells is a name that rings a bell with anyone who knows anything about cryptocurrency, and it’s for this nightmarish reason. In 2013, when cleaning up his office, the IT professional from Newport, Wales, tossed a hard drive into a garbage bag that his wife then took out to the bin. On that night of August 2013, before falling asleep, Howells thought to remove the drive, but he never got around to doing it because his wife woke up first.

The drive contained 7,500 Bitcoin, at a time when Bitcoin’s value wasn’t sky-high as it is today. Howells had forgotten about the units on the device, storing the drive in a drawer after he spilled lemonade on it. He remembered within days. At the time, the Bitcoin was worth thousands; today, the same 7,500 units are estimated at $450 million.

Since 2013, Howells has been trying to convince Newport council to let him excavate and search through the local landfill, in an attempt to locate the drive. His request has been repeatedly denied on several grounds, with the most important being that the operation would cost millions and he wouldn’t be able to pay for it if the drive wasn’t found or was no longer working.

Howells has now retained the services of a “NASA expert” in yet another attempt to try and locate the device. That expert is Ontrack, the same data recovery specialist company that recovered the charred hard drive on the Columbia space shuttle that crashed to Earth in 2003, North Wales Live reports. Ontrack “believes there is an 80- 90% chance James’ huge Bitcoin fortune can be recovered – if the hard drive hasn’t cracked.”

Moreover, Howells says he has determined the approximate location of the drive in the landfill: a 200 square-meter (2,153 square-foot) area, 15 meters (49 feet) deep under the garbage. The salvage operation could still take 9 to 12 months to complete, assuming the council grants him permission to go around rummaging.

That’s a big “if” there. Aside from the estimated cost of the operation, there’s also an environmental risk to consider. “Excavation is not possible under our licensing permit and excavation itself would have a huge environmental impact on the surrounding area,” the Newport council says in a statement. “We have, therefore, been clear that we cannot assist him in this matter.”

Words colder than a pile of cash.

Editor's note: Photos in the gallery show a Ferrari F8 Tributo with Dogecoin wrap.

 
 
 
 
 

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