A desperate Welsh IT consultant who accidentally binned Bitcoin now worth more than $350 million has called in a consortium of experts, including an ex-NASA engineer, to help him recover the lost fortune.
James Howells trashed a hard drive holding 7,500 BTC while cleaning his office in 2013. His Bitcoin was worth anywhere from $110,000 to $9 million that year.
As reported by the South Wales Argus, Howells believes the trove now lies in a nearby landfill site, most likely some 15 meters deep.
He previously appealed to local authorities for permission to search the site. He even offered 25% of the bounty in return, but they weren’t interested.
So, due to difficulties in accessing the hard drive’s expected resting place, Howells is breaking out the big guns: specialists, among them environmentalists, engineers, and a NASA data recovery expert.
“I have put together a full consortium of experts in the field to refute all of the claims that the council has said it has concerns over,” he told the South Wales Argus.
“I’ve spoken to data recovery experts who have worked with NASA on the Columbia space shuttle disaster. They were able to recover from a shuttle that exploded and they don’t seem to think that being at a landfill will be a problem,” said Howells.
Howells told reporters he’s received hedge fund backing to help pay for specialist AI tech. He estimated the recovery operation would take between nine and 12 months.
Local council says digging up lost Bitcoin is too risky
Howells even tried to get help from his local authority but came up with bupkis.
The Welshman asked for a feasibility study to be conducted and offered to talk through any concerns. However, local council officials apparently can’t see past upfront costs and environmental concerns.
“The council say they worry about who will meet the cost if it’s not recoverable but all of that would be part of a signed contract,” said Howells.
“I’m asking them for a three-month feasibility study so we could sit down outline our plans and they could put forward their concerns and we can answer them, but they won’t give me that.”
However, Newport Council says the risks and costs of digging up the landfill mean it’s a firm ‘no’.
“Even if we were able to agree to his request, there is the question of who would meet the cost if the hard drive was not found or was damaged to such an extent that the data could not be recovered,” a spokesperson said (via ITV).
“We have, therefore, been clear that we cannot assist him in this matter.”
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