No Key, No Millions – The beautiful stories of lives changed thanks to Bitcoin (BTC) are many, but not all BTC millionaires are happy – far from it. Some even despair every day of their lives: losing access to the private key of their old wallet makes their fortune totally… virtual.
7002 bitcoins blocked on a USB stick
The stories of unhappy „owners“ of bitcoins today come from a section of the New York Times titled „These lost passwords that restrict access of millionaires in their fortunes Bitcoin“ .
The first of them is Stefan Thomas , a computer programmer who had – in 2011 – stored the private key to access his 7002 bitcoin wallet on an IronKey , a kind of secure USB key requiring a password.
Our man has inadvertently lost for several years the paper where he had noted the password for this key. The particularity of this security device is that it encrypts its content in an irremediable and unrecoverable manner after 10 incorrect password attempts .
Stefan Thomas is today at 8 unsuccessful attempts …
Just 2 more mistakes and he will lose access to the equivalent of over $ 238 million forever , during today.
“[Like every night] I would lie in bed and think about it (…) Then I would go to the computer with a new strategy in mind, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again (…) ) I got to a point where I was like, “Leave this in the past, just for your sanity”. “
Old computers that have mined thousands of BTC
The second unlucky one is Brad Yasar , an entrepreneur who owned a few desktop computers with significant amounts of bitcoin (they numbered in the thousands ). He had mined them thanks to these same computers, when it was still possible, that is to say at the very beginning of the creation of the network by Satoshi Nakamoto .
Problem: he too has lost the access passwords to the vast majority of the wallets on his computers. Today, he has only kept of these old computers the hard drives , which he keeps preciously, even if their bitcoins are for the moment lost in limbo.
“Over the years, I would say that I have spent hundreds of hours trying to regain access to these wallets (…) I don’t want to be reminded every day that what I have now is ‚is a fraction of what I could have had (…) ”
According to data from the company Chainalysis cited by the article, of the 18.5 million bitcoins created to date, about 20% would be lost or blocked , or close to $ 130 billion …