In a strange twist of events, both sides of a legal dispute over 1.1 million BTC ($68 billion) are arguing that Craig Wright is Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto.
A Miami jury is being asked to decide if Wright should be forced to share the Bitcoin with the surviving family of his deceased friend Dave Kleiman.
Kleiman’s brother Ira filed an initial complaint back in May 2018, arguing Kleiman was Wright’s business partner.
Back then, the Bitcoin was worth just over $11 billion. He alleges that Wright conspired to steal the stash and related intellectual property.
But now, thanks to some delays to the civil trial and a 700%-plus Bitcoin price appreciation, the Kleiman estate’s claim is much more valuable.
Wright name, wrong gender says Craig’s attorney
According to Law360, Ira Kleiman’s attorney Kyle Roche told the 10 jurors on Monday he only learned of his brother’s alleged role in Bitcoin after he was contacted by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
- ATO was chasing the $40 million in assets associated with W&K Info Defense Research LLC, a firm once based in Florida.
- Following Dave Kleiman’s death in 2013, Wright filed a lawsuit to transfer W&K’s assets to Australia.
- Kleiman says W&K is the company under which his brother and Wright mined Bitcoin.
However, Wright’s attorney Amanda McGovern contested the evidence.
She told the jury that the “W” in the company name referred to Lynn Wright — Craig Wright’s ex-wife.
According to McGovern, Lynn created the company in 2011 and was Dave Kleiman’s business partner — not Craig — so she should be the one in control of the Bitcoin.
“This is a case that Ira Kleiman built after Dave’s death,” McGovern said (via Law360).
Will the real Satoshi take the stand?
Australian-born Wright has maintained he’s the author of the Bitcoin whitepaper since 2016 — despite consensus from the crypto community at large, who says otherwise.
Supporters of Wright (and his Bitcoin fork Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision) often highlight a section of Kleiman’s 2018 complaint to back up his claim to the Nakamoto name.
Kleiman claims Wright sent an email in March 2008 to his brother asking for his help in editing a paper.
“I have been working on a new form of electric money. Bit cash, Bitcoin … you are always there for me Dave. I want you to be a part of it all,” the alleged email read.
No doubt Wright’s supporters and detractors will be listening closely when he takes the stand, which his attorney reportedly confirmed is part of his defense strategy.
McGovern also made the jury aware of Wright’s autism which, she said, means that sometimes he’s misunderstood. She spoke of his difficult childhood and that his own sister thought of him as strange.
“At thirteen, he wore a ninja outfit to a playground and all the other kids called him a freak,” McGovern said (via CoinDesk).
In fact, his penchant for martial arts continues into adulthood. Although, he’s since swapped a ninja suit for a samurai sword at a recent CoinGeek conference.
Craig Wright’s long list of Satoshi lawsuits
Wright keeps his attorneys busy, with several suits concerning his claim to the Nakamoto moniker.
His legal battle with the Kleiman estate could have implications for his ongoing Bitcoin whitepaper copyright battle with the pseudonymous Cøbra, who hosts Bitcoin.org — a website that displays the whitepaper.
In July, Wright won a copyright case by default, preventing Bitcoin.org from displaying the whitepaper to the UK.
In any case, questions remain as to how the court might enforce retrieval of the Bitcoin in question, should Miami jurors decide that Bitcoin was a Craig Wright and Dave Kleiman collab (thus proving both parties were Nakamoto).
It’s not clear that Wright actually controls the private keys to the stash.
In May 2020, Wright’s credibility was called into question when Kleiman’s legal team accidentally released a list of Bitcoin addresses Wright claimed to own.
Of those, 145 had signed a message calling him out as a fraud.
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