Man who threw away $121m of Bitcoin wants to dig up landfill site

In 2009, James Howells, a British IT worker bought 7,500 Bitcoin, at the time its value was around $130. Currently, 1 Bitcoin according to CoinBase is more than $15,000(€13,170) which means today Howells should have owned a whopping $121 million.

But it turned out back in 2013, Howells threw the hard disk that contained the key to his digital wallet because his girlfriend made him stop mining the cryptocurrency since she was annoyed with loud noises of block-mining hardware.

“After I had stopped mining, the laptop I had used was broken into parts and sold on eBay. However, I kept the hard drive in a drawer at home knowing it contained my Bitcoin private keys so that if Bitcoin did become valuable one day, I would still have the coins I had mined,” Howells told the Telegraph.

Heading: Man who threw away $121m of Bitcoin wants to dig up landfill site
James Howells

“In mid-2013 during a clear-out, the hard drive – then worth a few hundred thousand pounds – was mistakenly thrown out and put into a general waste bin at my local landfill site, after which it was buried on site.”

In an interview with BBC Radio, he explained that he forgot about the hard disk as he was in the middle of moving to another house and distracted.

“I kept the hard drive in a drawer in my office for three years without a second thought – totally forgot about bitcoin altogether. I had been distracted by family life and moving house.

Fast forward to 2013 which is when I had a clearout of my old IT equipment – I hadn’t used this drive for over three years, I believed I’d taken everything off it… so it got thrown in the bin,” said Howells.

James Howells mined 7,500 Bitcoins himself when 1 Bitcoin was worth nothing like today. The hard drive that he threw away accidentally, contained all those Bitcoin.

We feel for Howells but not hopeful if he will be successful in finding his “treasure from trash, ” or maybe he should get in touch with treasure hunters who might help him get his fortune back. We hope to have another but happy update about this story soon and hope Bitcoin’s value will be still worth it.


Carolina works for HackRead as a technical writer. She is a Brazilian traveller who has been to almost every country around the world. She has a keen interest in technology, gadgets and social media.