In case you hadn’t heard, Bitcoin is back in the news in a big way. Bitcoin first reached its peak back in the mainstream back in late 2017 when the price rose up to $ 19,000 in just a few weeks. The price ebbed and flowed over the next few years, dropping as low as $ 3,400 in November 2018. In recent months, bitcoin is raging again. It has been in complete shock with its value in skyrocketing and shaming new left, right and center millionaires and billionaires. As I type this article, the price of one bitcoin is $ 48,309. At that level, the mysterious creator of the cryptocurrency sits on a completely insane fortune. A fortune that just sits in an electronic wallet, completely untouched and untouched…
It is generally accepted that a “person” named Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator of bitcoin. However, it should be noted that it has never been officially known, spoken publicly or seen in person. There have been many, many, many attempts to find him. We are not sure that Satoshi Nakamoto exists, or, at least exists as a living, breathing person who walks the earth. He might be dead. Maybe it’s her. Maybe it’s a nickname.
If you put all that mystery aside, we certainly know two things about Satoshi Nakamoto:
- He is an incredibly great programmer
- It sits on a huge personal fortune.
The roots of Bitcoin
The Bitcoin.org domain name was registered in August 2008. Two months later, someone going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper entitled “Bitcoin: Peer-to-Peer Electronic Currency System“and submitted to a cryptography mailing list. This paper is the first time Satoshi Nakamoto’s name has appeared on the internet relating to cryptocurrency.
Nakamoto implemented the bitcoin software on January 3, 2009. On that date, he mined what is now known as the “genesis block of bitcoin”.
His prize? 50 bitcoins. Value today? $ 2.4 million.
One of bitcoin’s most innovative features is that its total circulation is strictly capped at 21 million “coins”. That presents an inherent shortage of the currency that has become very attractive to investors today. As world governments print trillions and trillions of dollars of banknotes that are not backed by any real value, having something that cannot be diluted is never powerful. Bitcoin has little real value on its own today. In essence, it is a highly speculative set of zeros and zeroes that 99% of its holders do not use to make transactions. That will change.
During its first few months of being online, the price of one bitcoin was essentially zero. Like, literally $ 0.0008 per BTC. You could have bought all the existing BTC for $ 16,800.
In March 2010, when the price was less than $ .01, a trader using the username “SmokeTooMuch” held an auction for 10,000 BTC (the symbol for bitcoin). He was seeking $ 50. No bidders came forward. If you decided to pay his $ 50 to “SmokeTooMuch”, today you would be sitting on it $ 480 million.
In 2011, BTC hit $ 1 a penny for the first time. He spent much of that year and the next ranging between $ 3 and $ 12.
In 2013 things started to get interesting. Bitcoin 2013 started at around $ 15. It ended the year above $ 800.
Then 2014 was a bit of a retreat year for BTC. The price dragged back down to the $ 200s.
Here’s what happened between 2015 and today:
Satoshi Nakamoto’s Untreated Fortune
The first 50 BTC won as a reward for mining the “genesis block” were not the only bitcoin Satoshi kept for itself. On the contrary, really!
As the first leading Bitcoin creator and miner, Satoshi initially set aside 1 million coins for himself. That’s 4.8% of all Bitcoins in circulation. You can see those 1 million coins sitting in his public wallet. They have not been accessed or spent since January 2009. And that is a very strange situation.
As we mentioned before, bitcoin is trading at around $ 48,000 a penny. That makes Satoshi Nakamoto’s wallet worth =
$ 48 billion
At $ 48 billion, according to our account of the richest people in the world, Satoshi is currently the 27th richest human being walking the earth.
Satoshi is $ 4 billion richer than Nike’s founder Phil Knight. $ 18 billion richer than Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. He is $ 4 billion shy of Carlos Slim. He is only about $ 10 billion shy of the Koch brothers, MacKenzie Scott (Bezos) and Michael Bloomberg.
Now, is it not at least a little dubious and strange that in January 2009 someone would launch bitcoin, give themselves 1 million coins, and then never access those coins again (or at least not over the last 11 years)? Especially as the value of bitcoin grows from 6 cents to 25 cents to $ 10 to $ 100… and on. How could he not have sold SOME along the way?
One simple theory that explains why Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoins were not touched in 11 years is that he died. More specifically, he probably died shortly after bitcoin was created. That is, how else to explain $ 40 billion worth of bitcoins sitting there collecting digital dust for more than a decade? And here’s the thing, if Nakamoto is dead, that $ 40 billion is probably lost forever. Bitcoin is inaccessible to anyone who does not have a password for the account. Since a single coin has not been sold in 11 years, it stands to reason that Satoshi Nakamoto never told anyone his true identity, so no one would know the password to Nakamoto’s private bitcoin wallet. Once the password to the wallet has disappeared, so have the bitcoins.
Whatever the case, or wherever Satoshi Nakamoto is, we know this: two years after bitcoin was launched, Nakamoto disappeared from the internet. On April 23, 2011, Nakamoto emailed bitcoin developer Mike Hearn saying: “I’ve moved on to other things.” He wrote that he feels the future of Bitcoin is in good hands. Nakamoto left an extensive collection of writings, the most influential cryptocurrency ever created, and a mystery for the ages.